The field of climate change adaptation is in a period of critical transition. The general concepts of adaptation have been well developed over the past decade. Now, practitioners must move from generalities to concrete actions, including implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The intent of this report is to provide a brief overview of key climate change impacts and a review of the prevalent work occurring on climate change adaptation in the Great Lakes region, especially focusing on activities in the natural and built environments as they relate to freshwater resources (and in some cases, at the freshwater/terrestrial interface). This report presents the results of EcoAdapt’s efforts to survey, inventory, and, where possible, assess adaptation activities in the Great Lakes region.
First, we provide a summary of climate change impacts and secondary effects on freshwater environments and resources in the Great Lakes region, specifically focusing on changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation patterns, lake levels, and water chemistry. We then provide summaries of and trends in commonly used adaptation approaches and examples from our survey and other resources. We separate these examples into four broad categories – Capacity Building, Policy, Natural Resource Management and Conservation, and Infrastructure, Planning, and Development.
The report concludes with a discussion of the challenges to and opportunities for climate change adaptation in the Great Lakes region. The majority of adaptation efforts in the Great Lakes region thus far has been focused on capacity building, including improving understanding and awareness, acquiring or developing resources, and developing collaborative partnerships. Important next steps for advancing climate change adaptation in the Great Lakes region are to increase knowledge sharing between practitioners, to encourage more planning and integration across political and sectoral boundaries, to implement actions, and to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of these activities.