Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

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This project focused on refining and implementing the National Park Service (NPS) scenario planning processes originally conducted at Isle Royale National Park (MI) in 2013 for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (WI) in 2015. GLISA investigated whether the localized climate information produced for Isle Royale could be reused, with only slight modification, at the nearby Apostle Islands with the goal of accelerating the incorporation of climate change knowledge into adaptation planning. Our web-based prototype problem-solving platform, GLISAclimate.org, was the medium for the information reuse.

A report was produced to summarize the process and outcomes of the scenario planning process and can be found here.

Project Accomplishments

Continuing a long engagement with the National Park Service and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin, GLISA was invited to support a new project (2018) focused on ecosystem vulnerability at Apostle Islands. Building on the scenario planning process conducted in 2015, we updated and refined the original scenarios with regional downscaled climate data, end-of-century projections, and new information on several requested variables (i.e., lake ice, lake levels, arctic cold spells, wind speed, wave action, strong storms, snowfall, lake-effect show, lake currents). We also conducted an analysis of historical trends and presented this alongside the new scenarios at an in-person workshop at the Park in spring 2018. Working with partners at the Forest Service’s Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS), GLISA is authoring a chapter on climate drivers for the assessment, including a discussion on climate models, uncertainty, and statistical versus dynamical downscaling.

Since first being introduced to the NPS scenario planning process, GLISA has adopted and adapted many of its components to do similar work with new partners, like developing scenarios for Tribal partners and a military installation in MI. GLISA’s scenario work typically involves GLISA providing an analysis of past to present local climate trends for the partner, and then working with the partner to identify the climate drivers that matter most for the future that they are managing. Then, GLISA produces the framework for a select number of future climate scenarios that the partner develops further with their management concerns in mind. Currently, GLISA is formalizing their scenario planning process and developing a guide for practitioners who wish to develop and use climate scenarios for their own uses.


Research Findings

Although the localization of climate data and information for Apostle Islands was not a straightforward reuse of the information collected for Isle Royale, many of the Lake Superior climate change impact summaries (i.e., lake level, and lake ice trends) could be easily refined, and the overall process of data collection and synthesis moved more quickly. Our experience with modifying relevant climate data and information for a new, nearby location was encouraging from a human capital and adaptation standpoint—less time is required to deliver the same level of resource, and practitioners can more quickly use that information to make decisions.

Project Partners: Stephen Handler, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS); Peggy Burkman, U.S. National Park Service

GLISA Contact: Laura Briley, Climatologist: auraell@umich.edu