Past, Present, and Future Impacts of Weather and Climate on the Geology of the Illinois Coast

Funded by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant

Project Summary

The Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant awarded the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) a grant for developing proactive plans for Illinois Beach State Park (IBSP) and Waukegan Beach (WB), and the plans focused on methods to better anticipate climate impacts to beach, bluff, and nearshore environments along the southern Lake Michigan coast. GLISA evaluated climatic trends in southwestern Lake Michigan based on the MRCC climate database, and we performed a literature review to provide details of the variables and the potential outlooks they will have in a changing climate. In August 2019, GLISA co-hosted a scenario planning workshop with ISGS and the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) to guide IBSP and WB beach managers through a series of exercises. The four activities include outlining management goals and actions; identifying disruptive weather and climate events; integrating climate information into their pre-built scenarios; and creating a timeline of preparation and resilience for their scenarios on a 20-year timeframe. The Indiana-Illinois Sea Grant extended the grant to include more analysis, with the addition of another virtual workshop being scheduled for Winter 2021, and GLISA will present an updated climate presentation for Northern Illinois.

Learn more about GLISA’s Scenario Planning work. 

Project Accomplishments

  • Scenario planning workshop with beach managers from Illinois Beach State Park and Waukegan Beach with an accompanying workbook in Waukegan, IL on August 13, 2019.
  • Workshop participants engaged in five scenario planning exercises walking them through discussing their current practices and how these practices will change with a certain future climate scenario. 
  • Climate 101 presentations describing the historical observations and projections in northeastern Illinois.

Research findings

  • During the Scenario Planning workshop co-facilitated by the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) and GLISA, the two groups took two different approaches to adaptation:
    • The first group took a proactive approach in preparing management options in the prior season before extreme events would occur.
    • The second group took the responsive approach by reacting to the different events on a case-by-case basis. 
  • A key lesson learned was the importance of having a decision-making entity engage in workshop and scenario planning process with the beach managers to ensure that the beach managers’ concerns are understood so that the decision-makers can create new opportunities to implement the beach managers’ suggestions.

GLISA Contribution

  • GLISA conducted a literature review of the lake process and climate trends for the southeastern part of Lake Michigan.
  • GLISA co-facilitated a scenario planning workshop with ISWS and MRCC. GLISA provided materials, such as the Scenario Planning workbook and climate information, for the workshop.

Project Partners

  • Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC)