2019 GLISA Small Grant: Climate Change Opportunities Phase I: Creating Two Methodologies for Anticipating Growth in the Great Lakes Region

Funded by 2019 GLISA Small Grants Competition


Project Summary

Population growth or decline from climate-driven migration can have significant impacts on a region’s or municipality’s economic growth, businesses, and markets. This project used a two-pronged approach to help prepare the Great Lakes region for climate migration:

1.) The team worked with demographers, climatologists, and applied social scientists to accelerate the development of methodologies to assess, predict, and prepare for climate migration through a Climate Migration Methodology Accelerator. The Accelerator, which was jointly supported by GLISA and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), offered an opportunity for multidisciplinary teams and other applied researchers, including ASAP members from across North America, to share results and seek feedback on methodology development. Accelerator teams focused on a range of topics, including the correlation between temperature and migration, housing availability in the context of climate risk and migration responses, and the relationship of community amenities to migration choices, ASAP also facilitated meetings between research teams and potential end users to help inform useful and usable science production.

2.) Concurrently, ASAP led focus group conversations with stakeholders in the Great Lakes region to understand the diverse array of perspectives on in-migration and support knowledge development on this topic. Intermediary organizations, many of whom are ASAP members, helped us identify participants. Adaptation professionals within and outside the ASAP network have been exposed to the new knowledge and enhanced understanding on climate migration these projects created by participating in outreach opportunities such as the December 2021 Preparing Receiving Communities workshop and media engagement in outlets across the U.S.

Project Accomplishments and Outcomes

Additional outputs co-funded by NYSERDA:

Research Findings

This project aimed to explore a new area of demographic modeling that takes climate factors into account for migration patterns. Climate informed population models will help Great Lakes communities better plan for their futures. The methodology was co-developed by demographers and GLISA climatologists and shared with regional stakeholders. Results are intended to be a stepping stone to more rigorous work on this topic within the Great Lakes to more heavily investigate the potential opportunities of in-migration due to climate stressors.  The team found a statistically significant, positive association between temperature differentials and the number of migrants moving into the GL region after controlling for population size and distance. For out-migration, it appears that most migrants leaving the GL are not heading to warmer climates but are heading to cooler climates, after controlling for distance and population size.

GLISA’s Contribution

GLISA funded this 2019 small grant project and is partnering with the grantee to provide climate model data for the demographic modeling as well as interview support to gather information on stakeholder needs.


American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP), Farallon Strategies LLC, Florida State University, German Development Institute, City of Ann Arbor, Texas A & M University

For more information about ASAP’s work on climate driven migration into the Great Lakes, please visit their website.

GLISA Contact

Kim Channell, Climatologist, kimchann@umich.edu


“Using a multidisciplinary approach to develop methodologies for predicting climate migration was an enormous challenge. Collaborating with GLISA, we got the very best historic and future climate data and innovative approaches for marrying it with demographic data and methods. GLISA’s support came with just the right amount of flexibility and guiding ideas, enabling us to embrace the unknowns inherent in long-range planning and lay the foundation for just and equitable growth in the region.”

Rachel Jacobson, Deputy Director, American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP)