Enhancing Climate Change Education and Outreach for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities

Rachel M. Gregg
Posted on: 2/01/2013 - Updated on: 3/02/2020

Posted by

Rachel Gregg

Project Summary

Wisconsin Sea Grant (WSG) has a number of climate change-related education, outreach, and research initiatives underway. These projects are intended to support coastal community resilience and response to climate change impacts on built and natural systems. 


WSG is a University of Wisconsin-Madison-based statewide program that is focused on coastal research, education, and outreach. It is one of the 32 state programs funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program.

Wisconsin typically experiences a continental climate with cold winters and warm summers that supports viable industries, such as tourism and agriculture, and a variety of species and habitats. On its website, WSG reviews some of the observed and projected climatic changes that are affecting or will affect the state, including:


  • mean air temperatures have increased 4°F over the last 100 years, with approximately two-thirds of that increase occurring over the last 30 years
  • lake ice cover has decreased over the past 150 years
  • northward species range expansions
  • earlier migration and blooming of some plants


  • increased air temperatures
  • drier summers
  • changes in precipitation patterns
  • more frequent droughts
  • extreme weather events, including heat waves

WSG has two primary education and outreach projects focused on climate change. One is the Coastal Climate Wiki, which connects Sea Grant and NOAA staff with climate information. The other is the Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Starting a Public Discussion website, which hosts recordings, PowerPoint presentations, and summaries of eight seminars held in Wisconsin in 2007 on climate change.


WSG created the Coastal Climate Wiki (www.coastalclimatewiki.org) in 2009 in order to serve as a collaborative site through which Sea Grant and NOAA staff involved in climate research, education, or outreach could share information. Registered users may add or modify entries with climate-related content. The site strives to maximize the “collective sum of the input from all participants.” This site is funded through a NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) grant.

The Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Starting a Public Discussion website hosts recordings of eight climate change seminars held in the state between March and September 2007. The initiative was supported by WSG, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, and NOAA. In order to extend the utility of the series and continue the discussion, all of the seminars are provided for free on the website; in addition, a summary report and DVD of the series are available in the WSG store. The seminars include presentations on climate change science, impacts to and vulnerabilities of built and natural environments, and adaptation strategies.

Outcomes and Conclusions

In addition to education and outreach, WSG is also engaged in research and technology development to support coastal community responses to climate change. Tools for evaluating economic impacts to coastal infrastructure and visualizing shoreline and lake level change are in development.


Gregg, R. M. (2012). Enhancing Climate Change Education and Outreach for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities [Case study on a project of Wisconsin Sea Grant]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/enhancing-climate-change-education-and-outre… (Last updated October 2012)

Affiliated Organizations

Wisconsin Sea Grant is a statewide program of basic and applied research, education, and outreach and technology transfer dedicated to the stewardship and sustainable use of the nation's Great Lakes and ocean resources.