Development of Lake Level Scenarios for the Great Lakes Region

Project Summary

Scenario planning is a strategy to manage uncertainty associated with high-risk events that has been used by the U.S. military, the energy sector, and NASA. GLISA’s scenario planning approach describes plausible future events and has actors respond to them. This approach has evolved through past partnerships with the U.S. National Park Service (with Isle Royale and Apostle Islands), Tribes, watershed constituents, and the Army National Guard. In recent years, GLISA has received an increasing number of requests for scenario planning focused on Great Lakes lake levels. GLISA will develop a set of standardized lake level scenarios that can be applied to future projects. We will synthesize the parallel scenario planning work currently being done in various projects to develop plausible lake level scenarios informed by primary climate variables. These scenarios will be informed by our ongoing efforts in the Great Lakes Ensemble, including advances in understanding and quantifying the regional climate and lake level projections.

Project Accomplishments

  • Set of universal lake level scenarios
  • Accompanying workbook with exercises for lake level scenario planning workshops
  • Guidance materials explaining the scenarios and how to plan a lake level scenario planning workshop

Research findings

GLISA will develop a set of universal lake level scenarios and accompanying workbook intended for use in scenario planning workshops to be posted on the GLISA website and used for future projects where lake level scenario planning is requested. This is intended to help stakeholders explore the impacts of multiple plausible future scenarios, and inform management decisions in sectors that are affected by changing Great Lakes water levels.

GLISA Contribution

GLISA will develop all of the lake level scenarios and planning materials for this project and gather feedback from our regional partners to inform them.

Project Partners

  • WWA (Western Water Assessment)
  • NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO)
  • Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Network

GLISA Contact

Kim Channell, Climatologist,