~ Monitor Climate Change Impacts & Adaptation Efficacy

Monitoring can help practitioners track environmental changes and identify needed modifications in applied management strategies. It may be used to demonstrate correlations between climatic and environmental changes, assess climate change impacts on habitats and species, provide early warning signals that may indicate a need for management interventions, and evaluate the efficacy of adaptation action. A lot of effort has been invested in the region in monitoring environmental change, but to date there is an overall lack of evaluation of effectiveness of adaptation action.


Monitoring Impacts

Monitoring projects are underway in many parts of the Great Lakes region. These projects and programs are examining a variety of subjects, including biodiversity, regional habitats, and water resources. For example, a project team in Quebec is developing a monitoring system that can detect climate-induced changes in biodiversity at different spatial scales.166 Superior National Forest, University of Minnesota, and the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station are developing a climate monitoring and assessment project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aimed at understanding how Minnesota’s northeastern forests will respond to changing climate conditions.167

Finally, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, located in Minnesota, is conducting a monitoring program to inform the tribe about climate-induced changes and trends. Many cultural and natural resources of importance to the tribe have been identified as being vulnerable to climate change, including wild rice beds, fish and moose species, and habitat. The Fond du Lac Environmental Program has engaged in long-term water temperature monitoring since 2001; continuous loggers in the reservation’s six primary streams collect water temperature data from early spring to late fall every year. Recognizing that changes in water temperature and hydrology can be strong indicators of climatic changes, the tribe, with the assistance of retired U.S. Geological Survey staff, installed continuous water level loggers in the same six streams to collect hydrologic data in 2010; these loggers record a pressure measurement every 30 minutes. The tribe is using the information collected to inform planning and management decisions.168


Evaluating Planning & Management Goals

Sustaining Lakes in a Changing Environment (SLICE) is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Section of Fisheries’ long-term monitoring program of water chemistry, fisheries, habitat, and other biological and chemical indicators. Information is being gathered to assist in the development of management approaches that include a better understanding of how the state’s aquatic ecosystems respond to a variety of stressors, ranging from land use practices to climate change. The first phase of the project (2008-2012) is monitoring processes and exploring drivers of change in water quality and fish habitat condition in 24 sentinel lakes across the state’s four predominant ecosystem types. The second phase is slated to begin in 2012 and will examine and apply lessons learned from Phase 1 in order to create a robust, long-term lake monitoring program that includes land use and climate change considerations.169

166 Development of a Methodology and Sampling Protocol for Monitoring Biodiversity in Relation to Climate Change.

167 Reichenbach, K. (2010). Superior National Forest Monitors Climate Change Effects Thanks to Recovery Act Funds. U.S. Forest Service Success Stories, Apr 4, 2010.

168 Gregg, R. M. (2012). Integrating Climate Change into Water Quality Monitoring on the Fond du Lac Reservation in Minnesota [Case study on a project of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)

169 Hitt, J. L. (2012). Sustaining Lakes in a Changing Environment (SLICE): A Long-term Monitoring and Evaluation Program [Case study on a project of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program (Last updated October 2012)