GLISA-supported Boundary Organizations

Annually, GLISA awards external grants to organizations that will work with GLISA to address the risks of climate change and variability in the Great Lakes region.

GLISA leaders are seeking organizations that can collaborate with stakeholders from specific sectors or communities to identify and promote understanding of change and variability. This includes identifying the vulnerabilities, anticipated impacts, and potential for adaptation to climate change and variability. GLISA will support these activities by identifying and providing relevant information about the historical climate, projected futures, and adaptation to potential impacts.

Grant Recipients




2015 Grant Recipients

Project Title: Development of an Adaptation Toolkit for Resiliency Champions at Businesses and Institutions in the West Michigan Region
Lead Investigator: Daniel Schoonmaker, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum
Synopsis: Previous work to facilitate shared understanding of diverse climate resiliency needs and perspectives among interdisciplinary stakeholders identified barriers to introducing climate science to strategic planning and decision-making within businesses and institutions. This project will develop resources for resiliency champions to lead organizations through a vulnerability assessment informed by predicted industry impacts and historical climate data and projections, and establish systems to monitor and respond to identified threats and opportunities, as well as communicate with internal and external stakeholders. We will accomplish this by guiding four representative organizations in the West Michigan area through such an assessment. These pilot cases will serve as illustrative examples to other organizations in their industry networks and the community in general, encouraging use of the adaptation toolkit and awareness of climate risk among relevant decision-makers.
Project Title: Resilient Coastal Communities: Growing the Network and Building the Capacity of Local Leaders
Lead Investigator: Angela Larsen, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Synopsis: A needed next step to implementing a climate-informed adaptation strategy in ravine areas requires significant engagement of private residential landowners and local decision makers like locally elected officials who control or influence how land is used. Organizing and motivating these key audiences was articulated as an outreach need in the adaptation plan, and is critical to achieving community-wide implementation of upstream stormwater management practices like green infrastructure. Currently, neither municipal staff nor local community groups have fully engaged these audiences in identifying actions can be taken both individually and collectively to increase the adaptive capacity of their community through implementation of green infrastructure BMPs. A few communities have started to take some first steps, and working to build their capacity and share their success and lessons learned with their neighboring communities, including ravine communities across the border in Wisconsin, is needed.



2014 Grant Recipients

Project Title: A Climate Change Risks Assessment and Adaptation Strategy for York Region, Ontario
Lead Investigator: Stewart Dutfield, Ontario Climate Consortium
Synopsis: By building on previous work on municipal climate risk and vulnerability assessment by the Ontario Climate Consortium in the Region of Peel for the 2012-2013 round of GLISA funding, this project is intended to advance the following three overall objectives: (1) develop greater awareness and recognition of the importance and nature of climate change risks, vulnerabilities and need for adaptation among municipal staff and decision makers; (2) create greater capacity to conduct risk and vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning across municipal management and service areas; and (3) produce detailed information on one of the highest priority risks within York Region as an example, or template, for adaptation planning in York Region. The project will provide identification of municipal management and service area risks in York Region (climate hazards, impacts, and systems/components), a risk database populated with basic information on the management, service area risks, and trends on these risks, a refined protocol for York Region climate change risk analysis (suitable across Great Lakes), climate trends for variables to represent key hazards in York Region, and detailed characterization of the risks in municipal stormwater management.
Project Title: Using Future Scenarios to Identify Potential Policies for Climate Change Adaptation along Lake Ontario
Lead Investigator: Katherine Bunting-Howarth, NY Sea Grant/NECSC

This project will extend the results of a Lake Ontario scenario exercise completed in 2012 to assist the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) and its partners to update the Lake Ontario 2008 Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LaMP) while also providing similar information to inform local watershed plans.  During a two-day workshop, diverse stakeholders utilizing the scenarios, accompanied with alternate extreme climate precipitation projections and potential impacts on water resources and habitats, will brainstorm how they might react to four sets of future changes.  In the process, these stakeholders will discuss and determine what actions may be needed, the pros and cons of those actions and identify other needed data in order to assist the Lake Ontario basin to become more resilient to a changing climate.  These results will be packaged for LaMP stakeholders and watershed planners to consider when writing and updating their documents.

Project Title: On-Farm Water Recycling as an Adaptation Strategy for Drained Agricultural Land in the Western Lake Erie Basin
Lead Investigator: Jane Frankenberger, Purdue University
Synopsis: This project will evaluate the potential benefits of drainage water storage and recycling systems under future climate conditions by revisiting data from three wetland-reservoir-subirrigation systems constructed in the 1990s and monitored for 12 years. Benefits of the systems included yield increases due to subirrigation as well as reduced nutrient and sediment loads to receiving water. Both of these are expected to increase in future climate conditions. The project will also use future climate predictions to identify design and operational strategies that would be most beneficial in future systems. Opportunities and barriers to implementation will be investigated through engagement with drainage designers and installers and other key stakeholders in the region.
Project Title: Ready & Resilient: Climate Preparedness in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Lead Investigator: Roopali Phadke, Macalester College (with Science Museum of MN and Mayor's Office of Saint Paul)
Synopsis: This project extends and deepens engagement with Saint Paul residents by focusing on two previously identified areas of need: more education and reinvigorated social networks. Besides for revising and updating the Ready & Resilient guide produced for the previous year’s work, a model “modern” climate disaster kit that participants can assemble at the training will be put together. Additionally, pilot projects will be created to select, support, and record the efficacy of ideas to address barriers faced by lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. The findings will be shared through an interactive website that includes a description of the model and a plan of implementation for other cities to use, as well as through academic papers and presentations including the Association of American Geographers in April 2015, the National Adaptation Conference in May 2015, and the American Psychological Association in Aug 2015.
Project Title: Sensitive Sites and Infrastructure Protocol
Lead Investigator: David Ullrich, Great Lakes T. Lawrence Cities Initiative
Synopsis: In response to the more frequent and intense weather around the Great Lakes region, the primary goal of this project is to help municipalities prepare for the next storm by understanding where their community’s vulnerable infrastructure is and having a plan for emergency responders to identify and secure it.  The secondary goal is to broadly disseminate the protocol and lessons learned from the pilot city so that more cities around and beyond the region can adopt the protocol and become better prepared.  The Sensitive Sites and Infrastructure Protocol will outline how to identify and secure sensitive sites such as water and wastewater treatment plants and electricity transformers that are susceptible in extreme weather; this project will also provide guidance on what steps can be taken to secure this vulnerable infrastructure. The protocol will be tested in a pilot city so that it can be refined and fine-tuned prior to broad dissemination.                                    
Project Title: Implementing Forest and Water Climate Adaptation Solutions to Build the Resilience of Two Northwood Communities
Lead Investigator: Deb Kleinman, Model Forest Policy Program
Synopsis: Can rural and tribal communities increase the adaptive capacity of their forests, waters, and livelihoods by communicating climate science and engaging a broader, regional network of stakeholders to implement a climate adaptation plan? This project will explore this question through building the resilience of two Northwood communities to climate change, helping them to transition from science-based planning to implementation. The Menominee Conservation District and the Red Lake Nation Band of the Chippewa Indians are the two groups involved, both of who depend directly on the benefits of the ecologically and economically valuable Northwood forests. The Model Forest Policy Program will support these communities in addressing their governance challenges, as well as adopting a regional, multi-sectoral approach to achieve more effective climate adaptation implementation.                                               



2013 Grant Recipients

Project Title: Helping Marina and Harbor Operators Respond to Climate Change
Lead Investigator: Jim Diana, Michigan Sea Grant
Synopsis: Private marinas and small municipal harbors are struggling to fund needed improvements. The recent trend towards low lake levels and increased storm surges caused by climate change only amplify this economic hardship. Though a variety of climate adaptation tools are available, they can be overwhelming to marina and harbor managers. Information overload and uncertainty about future lake levels can result in a lack of confidence and may deter responsive actions. Marina and harbor managers need planning assistance for maintenance, repair, dredging, and general management.

The question of how changing water levels could impact the coastal communities of the Great Lakes has been brought to the forefront by decision making bodies. This project will assist marina and harbor operators in sector-specific problem identification, decision making, and planning related to climate change adaptation. As well as develop an online training module to be introduced, developed, and tested at workshops targeting marina and harbor operators.

Project Title: Making it Personal: Diversity and Deliberation on Climate Adaptation
Lead Investigator: Roopali Phadke, Macalester College, Department of Environmental Studies
Synopsis: Climate vulnerabilities are distributed unevenly across races, ethnicities, classes, ages, incomes and genders. Health burdens are disproportionately located in urban heat islands with low tree canopy density. However, climate adaptation discussions generally involve a narrow group of stakeholders who represent higher education, municipal agencies and environmental NGOs. This project is driven by two profound shifts that Saint Paul residents will experience in the next thirty years: climate change and demographic transition. The Twin Cities are expected to experience growing racial diversity and population growth.

The objective of this project is to make climate adaptation “personal” for those who tend to remain outside of climate change planning discourses. The focus will be the emotional, social, and cultural values and practices that impact public understandings of and responses to climate change. The project will devise and test a neighborhood consensus conference model in Saint Paul, MN that converts the best available climate data into tangible, place-based scenarios in order to assess vulnerabilities and prioritize public investments. The project will also aim to foster the creation of self-sustaining social networks within Saint Paul.

Project Title: Implementation of a Coastal Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation Strategies, and Adaptive Risk Management Metrics by Wisconsin and Illinois Land Managers into Ravine Restoration Practices and/or Land Use Decisions
Lead Investigator: Angela Larsen, Alliance for the Great Lakes
Synopsis: A series of ravines along the shoreline of Lake Michigan have become a major focus of conservationists in Northeast Illinois and Southeast Wisconsin. Restored ravines protect property values, drinking water quality, and recreational opportunities. They also decrease storm water flowing onto the beaches and into the lake, slowing erosion and decreasing water pollution. Most restoration scientists and coastal land/watershed managers agree that climate change phenomena will impact Great Lakes coastal communities. Still, there is considerable uncertainty as to the scope of the impacts on ravines, and therefore the appropriate management actions. This project provides an avenue for decision makers to implement strategies of adaptive risk management, by allowing them to co-develop, with technical experts as part of a local “knowledge network.”

The predicted outcomes of the project include a strengthened knowledge network of local entities who manage ravines from Illinois and Wisconsin and collaboratively developed, climate-smart adaptation strategies. Two pilot projects will allow local ravine managers to implement those strategies and integrate metrics into their existing restoration projects. The project will also promote “social learning” between affected stakeholders both locally and regionally to support continued outreach beyond the term of this grant.

Project Title: Supporting Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Planning through Community Participatory Strategic Foresight Scenario Development
Lead Investigator: Dean Fellman, Center for First Americans Forestlands
Synopsis: Climate change could weaken the connections between tribal traditional knowledge and the ecology of their homelands. Traditional knowledge is seen as an important contributor to climate adaptation planning for both American Indian communities and neighboring communities in the region. This project addresses the challenge of how specific tribes can adapt to climate change in ways that ensure the protection of tribal cultures and harness cultural resources, as well as integrate the best scientific resources about environmental change, address emerging social problems, and negotiate jurisdictional challenges unique to federally-recognized tribes.

The project explores two questions: (1) Can foresight processes be used to create viable climate adaptation scenarios that can help tribes build capacities in advance? And (2) Can foresight processes involving tribal leaders and natural resource staff in the agencies and departments of federally recognized tribes garner sufficient community involvement for building scenarios that reflect tribes’ cultures, social situations, knowledge needs and resources, and jurisdictional and legal complexities? To answer these questions, the project will initiate community stakeholder engagement processes of foresight for two to three tribal communities who are part of the network of the Center for First Americans Forestlands.




2012 Grant Recipients

Project Title: How Sensitive Are Agricultural Best Management Practices and Models to Climate Change? Framing Key Issues and Uncertainties with Expert Opinion
Lead Investigator: Dr. Kimberly Hall, Nature Conservancy
Synopsis: Conservation practices in the watersheds in the Great Lakes region focus on connecting agricultural and ecological systems together through best management practices (BMPs)to reduce environmental stress and affect policy changes. This project will study and assess the vulnerabilities of BMPs related to climate change to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of agriculturally focused conservation practices in the Great Lakes basin.
Project Title: Development of an Indicator Suite and Winter Adaptation Measures for the Chicago Climate Action Plan
Lead Investigator: Martin Jaffe, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program
Synopsis: This project will formulate climate change indicators for local officials and planners to assist in more effective and efficient winter climate change adaptation decisions. This project will complement the strategies in the Chicago Climate Action Plan.
Project Title: Adapting to Climate Change and Variability: Planning Tools for Michigan Communities
Lead Investigator: Claire Layman, Michigan State University Extension
Synopsis: Climatologists predict that the American Midwest will be warmer and wetter with increased temperature variation and heavier precipitation events. This project will collaborate with two Michigan communities to determine vulnerabilities, strengths, and knowledge related to climate change to be resilient in the future by incorporating adaptation strategies into local land use master plans.
Project Title: Assessing and Communicating Risks from Climate Variability for the Michigan Tart Cherry Industry
Lead Investigator: Dr. Nikki Rothwell, Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Station
Synopsis: This project will compile weather and climate information to provide the cherry industry with reliable adaptation resources and strategies. Research results will help the industry make choices concerning risk mitigation and resource appropriation, as well as foster an understanding of climate variability and extreme weather events.
Project Title: Climate Information to Support Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for the Great Lakes Basin Municipalities
Lead Investigator: Chandra Sharma, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
Synopsis: This project will pilot a method to create access to credible, locally-relevant climate data for several communities related to Lake Ontario in the Region of Peel, one of the most populous and urbanized areas of the Canadian Great Lakes basin. TRCA will recommend specific strategies and practices relevant to the regions studies.
Project Title: Making Climate-Resilient Communities Through a Watershed Approach
Lead Investigator: The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC)
Synopsis: Current efforts to create climate-resilient communities within the watershed involve understanding various climate scenarios, identifying best management practices, and analyzing case studies on adaptation strategies. The HRWC will focus on outreach and implementation strategies. This project will build on the tools created to broaden the geographic participation of the watershed, support participants with priority tools and strategies, and conduct an in-depth case study to develop adaptive capacity in the basin.



2011 Grant Recipients

Project Title: Assessing the impacts of climate variability and change on Great Lakes evaporation: Implications for decision making, adaptation, and water resource management
Research Team: John Lenters, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
John Anderton, Northern Michigan University
Peter Blanken, University of Colorado-Boulder
Christopher Spence, Environment Canada
Andrew Suyker, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Synopsis: Variations in Great Lakes water levels impact numerous sectors, including hydropower, navigation, recreation, aquatic ecosystems, and shoreline residents. This project will integrate and compare data from existing observational sites in Lakes Superior and Huron to assess the impacts of climate variability and change on evaporation rates.
Project Title: A modeling framework for informing decision-maker response to extreme heat events in Michigan under climate change
Research Team: Laura Schmitt Olabisi, Michigan State University
Ralph Levine, Michigan State University
Lorraine Cameron, Michigan Department of Community Health
Michael Beaulac, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Robert Wahl, Michigan Department of Community Health
Stuart Blythe, Michigan State University
Synopsis: This project will assess human health risks of extreme heat events in Michigan cities and create a dynamic modeling framework that tests policy and management options for reducing morbidity and mortality related to these events.
Project Title: An assessment of the implications of climate variability and change for Michigan's tourism industry
Research Team: Sarah Nicholls, Michigan State University
Bas Amelung, Wageningen University
Donald Holecek, Michigan State University
Jim MacInnes, Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa
Robert Richardson, Portland State University
Synopsis: This project will assess the potential impacts of climate variability and change on the winter sports and state parks in Michigan. Researchers will interact directly with the winter sports industry and state park managers to identify vulnerabilities and options for adaptation.
Project Title: Predicting the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields and water resources in the Maumee River Watershed
Research Team: David Hyndman, Michigan State University
Anthony Kendall, Michigan State University
Synopsis: The Maumee River watershed encompasses areas of Southeast Michigan, Northeast Indiana, and Northwest Ohio. After meeting with stakeholders from this area, the researchers will develop a coupled crop-growth and hydrologic model to simulate scenarios of climate change impacts on crop yields and water resources across the watershed.
Project Title: Designing a decision support system for harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish in a changing climate
Research Team: William Taylor, Michigan State University
Abigail Lynch, Michigan State University
Synopsis: Whitefish are an ecologically and economically important species in the Great Lakes. Researchers will work with stakeholders to assess decision support tools for Great Lakes lake whitefish management in the context of climate change.