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Great Lakes Observing System

Created: 3/28/2013 - Updated: 5/01/2019

Screenshot of the Great Lakes Observing System homepage. 

Summary

The Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) was established to support a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to data and information access in the region. GLOS connects data users with data providers in order to improve and support decision making. GLOS has four primary focus areas – Ecosystem Health, Public Health and Water Security, Maritime Operations, and Climate Change and Natural Hazards – and provides data and tools to users to support decision making in the Great Lakes.

Background

GLOS is a non-profit organization that supports decision making by connecting data users with data providers. Their vision is to support an “integrated, bi-national observing system that provides products and services to decision-makers, resource managers, and other data users with input from members and partners, to foster understanding and inform decision making related to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River System.” GLOS was founded in 2003 and supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Services Center and Great Lakes Commission; in 2008, GLOS was formally recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

GLOS is the only freshwater regional association out of the 11 that are part of the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), led by NOAA. To fulfill its mission, GLOS helps coordinate and manage regional data and information needs, provides up-to-date observations and models, and solicits stakeholder input to support programmatic planning and evaluation.

The four primary focus areas of the GLOS are Ecosystem Health, Public Health and Water Security, Maritime Operations, and Climate Change and Natural Hazards. In the latter focal area, GLOS is prioritizing the development of adaptation strategies by providing monitoring and modeling support to Great Lakes decision makers for flooding, non-point source pollution, stormwater management, shoreline management, and water availability issues.

Implementation

GLOS released A Blueprint for Great Lakes Decision Making 2011-2015 to guide activities over a five-year period; the document was developed as a complement to NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan, the IOOS Strategic Plan, and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan. The document lays out goals and objectives to achieve GLOS’ overall mission as well as to address the four focus areas.

The Climate Change and Natural Hazards focus area is the only one to specifically address adaptation; the specific goal is to “improve understanding and the development of adaptation strategies related to the impacts of climate change on Great Lakes communities and allow more effective mitigation of the effects of natural hazards” (GLOS 2011). In order to do this, GLOS is participating in the International Upper Great Lakes Study’s Adaptive Management Working Group to identify the risks of lake level change and establish a robust, long-term monitoring program for decision support. In addition, other projects, focused on providing observational and modeling support for the management of flooding and stormwater, shorelines, and water resources, specifically water supply shortages, are being funded by GLOS.

Outcomes and Conclusions

GLOS provides data and tools through various portals on its website. Current portals include the Observations Explorer, where users can view real-time and historic data from stations and buoys around the Great Lakes; the Huron to Erie Connecting Waterways Forecasting System, which provides water level and current forecasts for the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and Detroit River; the Point Query Tool, where users can gain access to Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System data; and the Great Lakes Model Inventory, which allows users to share and find tools, people, and organizations engaged in ecosystem health, public health, marine operations, and climate change adaptation.

Status

Information gathered from publications and other resources.

Citation

Gregg, R. M. (2012). Great Lakes Observing System [Case study on a project of the Great Lakes Observing System]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: www.cakex.org/case-studies/great-lakes-observing-system (Last updated October 2012)

Project Contacts

The Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) is a nonprofit association dedicated to connecting data users with data providers in ways that are supportive of policy and decision making.

We envision a fully integrated, bi-national observing system that provides products and services to decision-makers, resource managers and other data users with input from members and partners, to foster understanding and inform decision-making related to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River System.

Keywords

Scale of Project: 
Regional / Subnational
Sector Addressed: 
Conservation / Restoration
Public Health
Research
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Target Climate Changes and Impacts: 
Air temperature
Flow patterns
Precipitation
Storms or extreme weather events
Climate Type: 
Temperate
Timeframe: 
5-10 years
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy: 
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Create/enhance resources and tools
Effort Stage: 
In progress