Great Lakes Coastal Community Climate Adaptation Checklist

Evan Murdock and David Hart
Created: 11/03/2018 -


As the scientific consensus on the reality of climate change continues to grow, planners and decision-makers are asking themselves how they can apply the information to better equip their communities for future conditions. These questions are compounded for coastal resource managers, who must address not only the issues common to all communities, but also the unique challenges that stem from their proximity to large water bodies: water level changes, increased wave action, and coastal erosion, among others.

This document is intended as a guide for local government officials in coastal areas to help identify and address the vulnerabilities in their communities. The checklist items range from specific low- or no-regrets decisions (those that will result in a net positive outcome or a minimal net cost regardless of future conditions) to general vulnerability assessments.

Many of the items listed represent a significant capital investment, and should be considered as part of ongoing upgrades and maintenance, rather than as urgent matters. For instance, we would not expect a municipality to tear out functional fixed docks from a marina before the end of their useful lives to replace them with oating docks. Rather these changes should be considered when the time comes to replace infrastructure in the course of normal maintenance. In each case, communities should evaluate the cost of taking action, the likelihood of losses without action, and along with the potential scale of those losses, how sudden or unpredictable a precipitating event might be, and the ability (or lack thereof) to respond in real time should an extreme event occur.

Published On


Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Infrastructure damage
Lake level
Public health risks
Water quality
Habitat/Biome Type
Sociopolitical Setting