Co-producing Climate Knowledge and Sustained Engagement in the Great Lakes in Support of Stormwater Management Adaptation

GLISA received funding from the NOAA Sectoral Applications and Research Program (SARP) to continue our 2017 work on the vulnerability assessment (VA) template with the Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) and the Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Network (GLCAN).  This project will apply the VA template to stormwater management with twelve new cities in the region.

Annual precipitation, extreme rainfall events, and flooding have increased in the Great Lakes region during the last century, and these trends are expected to continue. Small and mid-sized cities in the region have limited resources and lack of access to climate information, which impedes them from implementing hazard- and climate-related actions to increase their resilience. While boundary organizations such as GLISA, HRWC, and GLCAN play a critical role providing decision-support in Great Lakes cities, they face challenges in sustaining engagement and in scaling-up processes that go beyond short-term funding for local projects. There remains a significant need to support the integration of climate information into planning at the community level, and to develop a tested strategy for sustained engagement that can be scaled up to other cities, sectors, and regions at lower costs.

With the support of the grant, GLISA will engage directly with twelve local governments within the Great Lakes region to:

  • Co-produce climate information using an existing vulnerability assessment tool for stormwater management projects; and,
  • Assess whether the boundary chain model can reduce transaction costs for scaling-up sustained stakeholder engagement through a series of social experiments that explore different forms of engagement.

To do this, the project team randomly assigned the cities to three different engagement methodologies: face-to-face, webinar-assisted, and written/self-guided. By applying the template to stormwater management projects using three test engagement methodologies, the team is assessing whether GLISA’s boundary chain model can reduce transaction costs for scaling up sustained stakeholder engagement. As in the 2017 project, GLISA provided tailored local climate information for each of the cities on the project to be included in the stormwater VA template.

GLISA Co-Director Maria Carmen Lemos leads research as the Principal Investigator. GLISA Program Manager, Jenna Jorns, and Missy Stults, the Sustainability and Innovation Manager for the City of Ann Arbor, serve as Co-Investigators. GLISA has partnered with GLCAN and the Huron River Watershed Council to engage Great Lakes cities and implement the vulnerability assessment. Outcomes from the grant are expected to advance the resilience of stormwater management in the twelve project cities and the science of knowledge usability in the context of boundary organizations.

The grant is part of NOAA’s Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP) solicitation on “Extreme Events Preparedness, Planning, and Adaptation within the Water Sector.” SARP supports interdisciplinary research to advance understanding of how climate variability and change affect key socio-economic sectors, and promotes the application of this new knowledge in climate-related decisions. SARP is under the Climate and Societal Interactions Program of NOAA’s Climate Program Office.

Participating cities include:

  • Ann Arbor, MI;
  • Buffalo, NY;
  • Cleveland, OH;
  • Columbus, OH;
  • Dayton, OH;
  • Ferndale, MI;
  • Goshen, IN;
  • Grand Rapids, MI;
  • Kalamazoo, MI;
  • Madison, WI;
  • Toledo, OH; and,
  • Urbana, IL.

Examples of completed Climate and Socioeconomic Vulnerability Assessment (VA) templates from the project can be found here:

GLISA created the 12 customized city climate chapters for each VA template with locally tailored climate information.  An example of this chapter can be found here:

For a list of project outcomes and testimonials from city practitioners who participated in the project and the 2017 pilot, see Great Lakes City Vulnerability Assessment Pilot Projects: City Outcomes and Testimonials.

Research Findings

TBD pending project completion.

Project Partners: Rebecca Esselman, Huron River Watershed Council; Missy Stults, City of Ann Arbor

GLISA Contact: Kim Channell, Climatologist: