U-M experts will share work at next week’s Great Lakes research conference

May 16, 2024

University of Michigan freshwater scientists will be among the more than 700 researchers from the Great Lakes region and beyond to present their findings next week at the 67th annual conference of the International Association for Great Lakes Research.

Hosted by the University of Windsor at Caesars Windsor May 20-24, the hybrid conference will feature nearly 50 scientific sessions and more than 600 presentations and posters focusing on the theme “Shared Lakes: One Water, One Health.”

U-M participants include researchers from the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, School for Environment and Sustainability, Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. U-M-led presentations at the meeting include:

Great Lakes Climate Futures: Storylines and Scenarios, presented by Richard Rood ([email protected]), Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering and School for Environment and Sustainability. North America is at the beginning of a time of rapid change, most definitively characterized by the accumulation of heat and generally rising temperatures. The changes in the Laurentian Great Lakes have been especially apparent since the late 1990s. Throughout the early 2000s, the persistent increase in temperature got to the threshold where areas that were reliably below freezing for the winter months, often realized temperatures above freezing. This influenced the formation and persistence of lake ice and all aspects of precipitation. This talk focuses on the development of plausible storylines and scenarios of the climate future of the Laurentian Great Lakes. The goal is to develop narratives which help planning by narrowing possible climate outcomes, and at the same time, providing a meaningful representation of uncertainty.

Simulating Projected Climate Warming in the Laurentian Great Lakes Using FVCOM+CICE, presented by David Cannon ([email protected]), U-M Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. Over the last century, the Laurentian Great Lakes have undergone significant changes, with increased surface and subsurface temperatures and decreased ice cover durations and concentrations. Future climate projections suggest that warming trends will continue into the next century, with a 50%-80% decrease in annual maximum ice cover under all scenarios by 2100. The most extreme warming scenario (SSP5-8.5) is expected to lead to severe increases (+3 -8 ℃) in summer surface temperatures by end-of-century, with commensurate increases in the strength of summer stratification. Analysis suggests that warming will result in mixing regime shifts in Lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario, resulting in dramatic changes in food-web dynamics and biogeochemical cycles in each lake.

The Future of the Line 5 Oil Pipeline: Implications at the Climate/Water/Policy/Rights Nexus, presented by Mike Shriberg ([email protected]), School for Environment and Sustainability. The future of Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 oil pipeline has become a defining issue for the future of the Great Lakes. The session will outline the extraordinary story of how Line 5 went from being unknown to all but a few regulators to an issue of national importance with the potential to shape the region’s future. A key part of this story is how oil spill science is being brought into the public sphere through governmental agencies and studies as well as non-governmental actors. The focus of the presentation will be assessing the implications of upcoming legal, policy and political decisions.

Advances in Year-Round Hydroclimatic Data: 16 Years and Counting for the Great Lakes Evaporation Network, presented by John Lenters ([email protected]), U-M Biological Station. Lake evaporation is one of the most important physical processes of a lake ecosystem, affecting everything from water levels and stratification to ice cover, aquatic chemistry, and regional weather and climate. Yet prior to 2008 there were no direct measurements of evaporation over the Great Lakes, presenting a significant gap in knowledge for large-lake science, policy, and adaptive management. This presentation provides an overview of GLEN, the Great Lakes Evaporation Network. Through the collaborative effort of eight institutions, two countries and multiple funding sources, the monitoring network grew to seven stations across all of the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Marine Protected Areas: Designating and Managing for Success, presented by Willy Pevec ([email protected]), Sophie Bryden and Ian Stone, School for Environment and Sustainability. The United States and Canada have set goals to conserve 30% of lands and waters by 2030 (i.e., 30×30 goals). Marine protected areas serve as one method for the U.S. and Canada to safeguard Great Lakes ecosystems and resources and achieve 30×30 goals. As 2030 approaches, the researchers investigate how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Parks Canada might best leverage their MPA programs to meet 30×30 conservation targets, optimize conservation effectiveness, enhance transnational collaboration, involve local stakeholders, and incorporate Indigenous Nations and communities in governance.

Trend and Variability in Hydro-Meteorological Extremes of Water Balance Components for the Great Lakes, presented by Yi Hong ([email protected]), U-M Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. Recent extreme fluctuations in Great Lakes water levels emphasize a growing need for accurate prediction of water level changes for adaptive water management. Changes in the water level of a lake are mainly dependent on the net basin supply, which considers factors such as over-lake precipitation, evaporation and total runoffs entering the lake from its drainage basin. Based on a recently developed dataset that includes daily records of water balance components for the Great Lakes since 1979, researchers performed a detailed trend and variability analysis of NBS and its components over the Great Lakes. The findings can serve as critical tools for sustainable and adaptive water management and guide the development of the next-generation water-level forecasting system for the Great Lakes.

Investing in the Future of the Great Lakes: The Next Generation of Scientists, presented by Mary Ogdahl ([email protected]), Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. Over the last 25 years, NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory has supported more than 1,000 training opportunities for students and postdocs from more than 100 universities across the globe in partnership with U-M’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. Through immersive, hands-on research experiences that span the Great Lakes’ most pressing issues, NOAA GLERL and CIGLR have inspired numerous students and early scholars to pursue research careers in the Great Lakes and beyond.

The GLERL/CIGLR Omics Program: Insights and Opportunities, presented by Gregory Dick ([email protected]) Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research. Rapidly advancing omics (any of several areas of biological study including genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics) technologies provide powerful new ways to characterize Great Lakes biology. These methods can be used to study harmful algal blooms, microbial communities and invasive species, and to understand how these and other aspects of the food web respond to climate change, pollution and other perturbations. The Omics Program at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory and U-M’s Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research is training the next generation of omics scientists, developing new capacity for data analysis and sharing, generating and integrating omics datasets, and conducting experiments to benchmark and link omics data to biological traits. Results highlight the potential of omics methods to discover and characterize new and emerging harmful algal bloom toxins, determine what organisms produce HAB toxins, provide early warning of HAB toxins, understand top-down (mussels, viruses) and bottom-up (nutrients) controls on HABs, and monitor invasive species and larval fish dispersal.

Modeling historical spawning habitat of cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Lake Erie to support coregonine restoration, presented by Katelyn King ([email protected]), School for Environment and Sustainability. Coregonine populations have generally declined over the past century throughout the Great Lakes, with some species now considered extirpated, and some considered extinct. The Council of Lake Committees endorsed a knowledge and science-based approach to restoring these culturally, ecologically, and economically important fishes known as the Coregonine Restoration Framework. As a part of the science planning component of this framework, researchers aim to compare historical and contemporary coregonine spawning distributions across the Great Lakes to identify suitable areas for stocking, habitat restoration, and the potential for habitat creation. They present a case study examining historical habitat suitability for cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Lake Erie.

Science Across Borders: The Global Center for Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Transboundary Waters, presented by Megan Cort ([email protected]), School for Environment and Sustainability. The recently launched Global Center for Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Transboundary Waters addresses the complexities of managing water systems that span multiple jurisdictions and sovereign nations. The global center comprises researchers and partners from Indigenous Nations, the United States and Canada and aims to develop and apply multinational collaborative and interdisciplinary science. The Great Lakes serve as the initial focal point for the center’s global research vision, which is centered on three core themes: 1) developing predictive models for future hydroclimate conditions 2) co-producing research that incorporates Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Indigenous Sovereign Nations with conventional ecosystem and water quality monitoring and modeling protocols and 3) capacity-building for governance and management systems that incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge and the input of traditionally marginalized communities to develop governance and management models.

Trait Variation in Nutrient Requirements and Predation Resistance to Understand Microcystis Genotypic Succession, presented by Vincent Denef ([email protected]), Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Microcystis is a phylogenetically cohesive group of cyanobacteria marked by extensive genetic diversity. In field observations in western Lake Erie, complex dynamics in which different genotypes of Microcystis predominate across time (across weeks and years) have been observed. Researchers determined that different genotypes isolated from Western Lake Erie diverge in the minimal concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus at which they can maintain growth. These data allow us to predict competitive hierarchies that may explain field observations.