Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve


Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve and its upper Great Lakes counterpart, the Lake Superior NERR focus on three priorities related to climate change: monitoring ecosystem changes, helping communities adapt to anticipated effects, and influencing behavior change among decision-makers and the public.

Monitoring Ecosystem Changes

The NERRS System Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) measures short-term variability and long-term change in the water quality, biological systems, and land-use / land-cover characteristics of estuaries to inform effective coastal management.  Great Lakes NERRS are building on this monitoring infrastructure to establish “sentinel sites” that detect and understand the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems like freshwater estuaries. 

Helping Communities Adapt

Old Woman Creek and Lake Superior NERRS are working to ensure community decision-makers and professionals have the knowledge and tools they need to adapt to a changing climate.  The Reserves worked with regional partners to customize Planning for Climate Impacts, a one day workshop that provides a foundation in climate science and helps decision-makers and planners outline actions they can take to adapt.  Depending on local needs and interests, regional case studies, the economics of adaptation, planning tools, and public health impacts were also covered in the training.  In 2011, three workshops attracted over 240 planners, stormwater professionals, natural resource managers, public health professionals, emergency preparedness staff, and private industry representatives from coastal communities in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Influencing Behavior Change

Interactive exhibits at Old Woman Creek NERR communicate climate science, regional impacts of climate change, and demonstrate simple actions citizens can take to reduce their carbon footprint or support adaptation in their communities.  Displays include video featuring NOAA scientists, interactive games highlighting the role of coastal wetlands in carbon sequestration, real-time display of building energy and water use, and interpretation of green building features. Each year, thousands of visitors interact with these exhibits and participate in programs that build climate literacy and support climate positive behavior change.