National Climate Assessment

The Great Lakes region spans large sections of the Midwest and Northeast National Climate Assessment (NCA) regions.
Volume 1 of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), The Climate Science Special Report, was released in November 2017. 
At the request of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), GLISA is contributing to NCA4 by serving as co-authors on the Midwest chapter in NCA4 Volume II, Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation. GLISA Co-director Maria Carmen Lemos and Program Manager Jenna Jorns are co-authors, and Graduate Student Research Assistant Katherine Browne is a technical contributor. The GLISA team is also contributing to a Great Lakes case study. The final version of NCA4 is anticpated to be available in late 2018.

In addition, GLISA co-hosted a satellite location of the Midwest Regional Engagement Workshop on March 1, 2017 at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, MI. For opportunities to connect and participate in the NCA process, please visit the USGCRP website

For more information on GLISA's contribution to NCA4, please contact program manager Jenna Jorns.


Former GLISA Co-director, Don Scavia, was a convening lead author for the Midwest Regional Chapter. The cultural and climatic influence of the Great Lakes are not constrained by political boundaries, however, and findings from both the Northeast and Midwest regions should be considered when evaluating the impacts of climate change on the Great Lakes region. 

National Climate Assessment: Great Lakes Region SynthesisSynthesis of the Third National Climate Assessment for the Great Lakes Region »

Intense rainstorms, floods, and heat waves will become more common in the Great Lakes region due to climate change in the coming decades. While ice-cover declines will lengthen the commercial navigation season on the lakes, warmer lake temperatures will increase risks from invasive species, and could threaten water quality.

Download a PDF of the Great Lakes Region Synthesis »

Access Great Lakes Regional Climate Change Maps »

National Climate Assessment: Chapter 18: MidwestThird National Climate Assessment: Midwest Region »

Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will affect infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality, and other sectors in the Midwest. Climate change will also exacerbate a range of risks to the Great Lakes.

Download a PDF of the Midwest Report provided by the U.S. Global Change Research Program »

National Climate Assessment: Chapter 16: Northeast

Third National Climate Assessment: Northeast Region »

Heat waves, heavy downpours, and sea level rise pose growing challenges to many aspects of life in the Northeast. Infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, and ecosystems will be increasingly compromised. Many states and cities are beginning to incorporate climate change into their planning.

Download a PDF of the Northeast Report provided by the U.S. Global Change Research Program »

NCA3 Great Lakes Regional Climate Change Maps

GLISA has created the following maps of observed and projected climate changes from analyses provided by the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites to the Third National Climate Assessment.1 The maps are based on an ensemble of 1/8-degree statistically downscaled daily climate projections.2

Click Here to Access Great Lakes Regional Climate Change Maps »


Midwest Technical Input Report White Papers

At the request of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, GLISA and the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment formed a Midwest regional team to provide technical input to the Third National Climate Assessment. The following white papers comprised the chapters of the report, focusing on the potential impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation options to climate variability and change across many sectors. The white papers were subject to review by at least two external reviewers and revised to reflect reviewer comments.

Historical Climate »

Jeff Andresen, Steve Hilberg, and Ken Kunkel

Over the past century, the Great Lakes region has become warmer and wetter. Extreme precipitation events have intensified and become more frequent.
Read the full report »

Future Climate »

Julie Winkler, Ray Arritt, and Sara Pryor

Temperatures are projected to increase in the Great Lakes region throughout the coming century, and most models project an increase in precipitation during winter whereas the sign of the projected change in precipitation for summer is uncertain.
Read the full report »

Increased temperatures effectively compete with increased precipitation to determine Great Lakes lake levels. While most studies have projected declines in lake levels, one recent study has projected lake levels will rise in the future.

Water Resources »

Brent Lofgren and Drew Gronewold

Increased evapotranspiration effectively competes with increased precipitation to determine Great Lakes lake levels. While most studies have projected declines in lake levels, one recent study has projected lake levels will rise in the future.
Read the full report »

National Climate Assessment Midwest Technical Input Report: Forestry

Forestry »

Stephen D. Handler, Christopher W. Swanston, Patricia R. Butler, Leslie A. Brandt, Maria K. Janowiak, Matthew D. Powers, and P. Danielle Shannon

Changes in temperature and precipitation will directly impact forest ecosystems, and will indirectly amplify existing stressors to forests and the ecosystem services they provide. 
Read the full report »

Biodiversity »

Kim Hall

The rapid rate of changes in the climate of the Midwest suggest that many wild species and natural systems will experience climate change as a major stressor.
Read the full report »

Transportation »

John Posey

Climate changes have the potential to affect all forms of transportation. In the Great Lakes region, impacts on shipping and land transportation are the primary concerns.
Read the full report »

Energy »

Janice A. Beecher and Jason A. Kalmbach

Both climate change and climate change policy are intrinsically important to the energy sector. Climate change policies are already affecting planning and investment decisions as utilities comply with regulations related to climate change.
Read the full report »

Agriculture »

Jerry Hatfield

Some crops may see opportunities in the near-future for increased yield due to a longer growing season and increased carbon dioxide concentrations, while others will suffer from increases in nighttime minimum temperatures and changes in the seasonality of temperature and precipitation.
Read the full report »

Tourism and Recreation »

Sarah Nicholls

Warm weather recreation and tourism activities may see potential opportunities for growth, while winter and autumn tourism and recreation will suffer as the winter season shortens and temperatures increase.
Read the full report »

Coastal Systems »

Scudder Mackey

Climate stressors on the Great Lakes and nearshore coastal systems include, changing water level regimes, changing storm patterns and precipitation, and altered thermal regimes. These stressors have the potential to significantly alter the physical integrity of Great Lakes nearshore and coastal systems.
Read the full report »

For further inquiries regarding the Midwest Technical Input Report, please email