~ Create or Enhance Resources & Tools

Resources and tools can make adaptation decision making and action easier; many of these have been developed for the Great Lakes. These resources and tools include those that deal with guidance and decision support, data acquisition and management, modeling and analysis, and information exchange. These tools can help managers and other practitioners identify priority habitats and species, assess risk and vulnerability in different sectors, generate other resources to support implementation, and engage with other like-minded practitioners.


Guidance & Decision Support

The National Wildlife Federation and EcoAdapt received funding to develop climate-smart restoration guidance materials for the Great Lakes region. The partners developed a technical guidance document, Restoring the Great Lakes’ Coastal Future,149 to aid NOAA and its partners and grantees in planning and implementing climate-smart restoration projects on the ground. The guidance document serves as a climate-smart framework for restoration, providing users with a suite of tools and a methodology to approach restoration given the reality of climate change.

The methodology includes six steps:

  1. Identify restoration-specific goals and targets
  2. Identify possible approaches to restoration projects
  3. Conduct a vulnerability assessment of both goals and targets and project approaches
  4. Develop climate-smart management options
  5. Prioritize and implement specific management options
  6. Monitor, evaluate, and revise restoration approaches

The guide provides case studies of how regional projects could incorporate a climate-smart restoration framework into their work. These examples, including the restoration of whitefish spawning habitat and sea lamprey control, are presented in tabular format for easy reference. Tables review vulnerability of project goals, targets, and approaches to climate change and present options for reducing that vulnerability on a number of levels. More detailed information on conducting a vulnerability assessment and additional resources on restoration, climate change adaptation, and the Great Lakes region are provided in appendices.150


Data Acquisition & Management

Examples of existing data resources and tools relevant to the Great Lakes region include Climate Wizard, Data Basin, NOAA’s Digital Coast, and the Great Lakes Observing System. Climate Wizard is a web-based mapping tool developed by The Nature Conservancy that allows users to view both historic and projected temperature and precipitation maps.151 Data Basin’s Climate Center provides a forum through which users can share and use spatial data and analyses; an entire gallery (e.g., collection of datasets and maps) is devoted to the Great Lakes region.152 The Topographic and Bathymetric Data Inventory, a component of NOAA’s Digital Coast,153 was created to collect regionally-specific elevation data sets; the Great Lakes inventory was completed in May 2010 through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.154

The Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS)155 was established to support a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to data and information access. Its purpose is to connect data users with data providers in order to support decision making. 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.156

Another Great Lakes-specific data source is in development. The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Geological Survey are working with a broad network of scientists, natural resource professionals, agency staff, and non-governmental organizations to design and develop a shared Great Lakes information management and delivery system (IMDS) to support the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative. In addition, the partners will initiate one or more demonstration projects to provide proof of concept, and promote and support the long-term development and maintenance of the Great Lakes IMDS to support strategic habitat conservation.157


Modeling & Analysis

Modeling and analysis tools have been created to support adaptation decision making in built and natural environments. For water resources planning, the Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool (N-SPECT) and the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Assessment Tool (CREAT) are available. N-SPECT, available through NOAA’s Digital Coast, allows users to visualize existing patterns of runoff volumes and pollution and to analyze possible future scenarios related to land use changes.158 The EPA developed CREAT to assist utilities in understanding and assessing risks from climate change impacts and evaluating adaptation options.159

Two resources specific to the Great Lakes region are in use or in development. The GLOS Model Inventory was designed to allow users to share and find tools, people, and organizations engaged in ecosystem health, public health, marine operations, and climate change adaptation.160 In addition, scientists in Quebec are designing tools to assist in the economic and spatial analysis of ecological goods and services that can help mitigate climate change impacts on hydrological functions of wetlands. The pilot sites are the Yamaska and Bécancour rivers in the St. Lawrence River lowlands.161


Information Exchange

The following websites are examples of forums for information exchange in the region:

  • GLISAclimate is aimed at connecting the producers and users of climate science information. Registered users can contribute data through the site’s Resource Portal and are encourage to collaborate with other users to develop ideas and solutions to climate change.162
  • The Adaptation Collaboratory was developed with funding from the National Science Foundation and the University of Notre Dame. The site aims to facilitate collaboration between practitioners, serve as a clearinghouse of adaptation information, and allow users to run visualization simulations and scenarios.163
  • Mainstream: The National Water Adaptation to Climate Change Project was created to collect and present information on climate change and water resources management. One component of the project was to create a compendium of tools to support water resources practitioners from municipalities, watershed organizations, private sector groups, advocacy groups, and provincial/territorial agencies to integrate climate change adaptation into management.164
  • The Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) is an online resource designed to help managers see the wealth of information that exists on adaptation and to support open access information exchange between practitioners from around the world. CAKE was created to simplify the tasks of discovery, comparison, and application that overwhelm so many individuals looking to address climate change in their work. The site consists of case studies of on-the-ground adaptation efforts, a virtual library of useful resources to support adaptation action, a community forum with an expert advice column, a directory of individuals and organizations rich with adaptation knowledge, and a tools section full of online resources to support implementation.165

149 Glick, P., J. Hoffman, M. Koslow, A. Kane, & D. Inkley. (2011). Restoring the Great Lakes’ Coastal Future: Technical Guidance for the Design and Implementation of Climate-Smart Restoration Projects. National Wildlife Federation, Ann Arbor, MI

150 Gregg, R. M. & Hitt, J. L. (2012). The National Wildlife Federation’s Climate-Smart Restoration Partnership in the Great Lakes [Case study on a project of the National Wildlife Federation and EcoAdapt]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

151 Climate Wizard.

152 Data Basin. Great Lakes Data

153 NOAA’s Digital Coast

154 NOAA’s Topographic and Bathymetric Data Inventory

155 Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS)

156 GLOS

157 Designing a Shared Great Lakes Information Management & Delivery System to Support Strategic Habitat Conservation

158 Nonpoint-Source Pollution and Erosion Comparison Tool

159 Gregg, R.M. (2010). Climate Ready Water Utilities Program [Case study on a project of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE (Last updated December 2010)

160 GLOS Model Inventory

161 Tools for the Hydrological, Economic, and Spatial Analysis of Ecological Services Provided by Wetlands of the Lower St. Lawrence Lowlands: Adaptation to Climate Change

162 GLISAclimate

163 Adaptation Collaboratory

164 Gregg, R. M. (2012). Integrating Climate Change into Municipal Watershed Management in Ontario [Case study on a project of Toronto and Region Conservation Authority]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

165 Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE)