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National Assessment of the Potential Consequences
For additional information, see the Midwest Mega-Region
Material from the Great Lakes Region Assessment Group
Media Coverage of Great Lakes Overview
Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.
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A workshop was held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, May 4-7, 1998 as part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The central purpose of the workshop was to bring together individuals with different backgrounds and expertise to address the challenges that will accompany future climate variability and climate change for this unique region.
The Great Lakes region is geographically and climatologically unique. Because the Great Lakes themselves constitute 95% of the nation's fresh water supply, many of the concerns regarding the effects of climate change and variability are water-related. The workshop focus included the following sectors: climate, water ecosystems, water resources, economy/commerce, agriculture, infrastructure, land ecosystems, human health, and governance/education. Participants were asked to explore how current day stresses might be exacerbated (or ameliorated) by future climate change and variability (e.g., floods, storms, drought, heat waves). The workshop served as a scoping exercise to begin to identify stakeholders, issues, and possible coping strategies. The workshop also serves as a first step towards building a sustainable community.
Issues for Analyses
The Assessment considered a limited number of key sectors that are critical in the Great Lakes region. Five major areas were included in the regional assessment: Agriculture, Water Resources, Water Ecology, Land Ecology, and the Quality of Human Life. The focus was on addressing environmental and socio-economic impacts due to climate changes, recognizing that some of the current stresses in the region are complicating factors.
Strategy for the Assessment
The Great Lakes Assessment effort had a two tier assessment strategy and addressed "what people care about." A Level II assessment involves a compilation of existing studies and an opportunity for stakeholders to supply additional information. A Level I assessment involved the use of GCM output, other climate change scenario information, and results from previous impact studies - for most sectors, an overlay approach was used. The results from each sectoral assessment is described in case studies and detailed chapters in the assessment document. The assessment report is available via the web.