The State of Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region

This report presents the results of a survey conducted by EcoAdapt of the climate change adaptation activities in the Great Lakes region as of 2012. The report provides an overview of key climate change impacts affecting the region, and a review of the adaptation efforts, especially those focused on the natural and built environments as they relate to freshwater resources or the freshwater/terrestrial interface.

The report offers a summary of climate change impacts on the Great Lakes region, specifically focusing on changes in air and water temperatures, lake temperature and ice cover, precipitation patterns, lake levels, and water chemistry. Secondary impacts of each of these significant climate effects are detailed also. For example, harmful algal blooms are a concerning result of increased lake temperatures and reduced ice cover, along with increased nutrient runoff - which can cause poor water quality, and lead to hypoxia which threatens fish populations.

Over one hundred adaptation projects and initiatives throughout the Great Lakes region were surveyed, and 57 projects were developed into full case studies. Example projects are sorted by broad categories of: Capacity Building; Policy; Natural Resource Management and Conservation; and Infrastructure, Planning, and Development. Within each category, examples of implemented adaptation measures and programs are detailed under sub-category strategies. Capacity Building, for example, is organized by the adaptation strategies of:

  • Design or reform institutions
  • Conduct research, studies, and assessments
  • Conduct training and planning exercises
  • Increase/improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
  • Create/enhance resources and tools
  • Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy

A list of the selected case studies grouped by adaptation strategy may be found in Appendix C. The case studies in full are included in a compendium - found in Appendix D. 


Publication Date: October 2012

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Case study

States Affected:


  • Air temperature
  • Precipitation changes
  • Water quality
  • Water temperatures

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