Leading by Example: Tools and Resources for City Adaptation

GLISA has worked with numerous local government partners over the years to address the unique climate adaptation challenges of the Great Lakes region by providing local climate information and other resources. We invite new partners to explore recommended and tested resources in the table below. Click on the adaptation action areas below (e.g., Vulnerability Assessments or Funding) to discover how other cities have used them, and learn how they can help your city adapt to and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Some resources are general and intended for a broad audience (e.g., the Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region Fact Sheet), but other products are customized based on a specific project or engagement with GLISA’s team (e.g., the Dayton, OH Climate Summary). You may still find the tailored products helpful if you are in a similar location or if you are looking for inspiration for a new project. 

If you are interested in working more closely with GLISA and pursuing customized resources like some of those listed below, keep an eye out for our next small grants competition or email glisa-info@umich.edu to explore other options for collaboration. Consider joining the Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Network (GLCAN) to collaborate with and learn from local government partners across the region.

Frequently Used Resources Description
Station Climatologies Learn how climate (temperature and precipitation) has already changed in your area through these historical local climate data summaries.
Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region Fact Sheet Use this accessible 2-page fact sheet to communicate climate trends and impacts.
Climate Hazards and Impacts in the Great Lakes
Use this summary to communicate climate threats in the Great Lakes region and how climate change might amplify hazards and risk in the future. Intended to be informative for hazard mitigation planning, covering FEMA hazards such as heat, flooding, winter weather, drought, severe weather, and wildfire.
Climate Change Scenarios for Cities
Use this set of climate scenarios to aid in future resilience planning customized to impacts in your community. Backed by models and projections, GLISA’s scenarios make it easier to understand what projected climate changes could look like in reality.
Presentation: Climate Trends and Impacts in the Great Lakes Region Watch this 15 minute presentation on climate change in the Great Lakes region for an introduction to historic trends, future projections, and impacts.
Webinar: Climate and Weather Tools for Stormwater Planning in the Great Lakes Watch a webinar about four interactive online tools designed to support stormwater planning and management.
Annual Climate Trends and Impacts Summary for the Great Lakes Basin* Explore this synthesis report summarizing the previous years’ climate trends, events, new research, assessments, and related activities in the Great Lakes region.
National Climate Assessment** Explore the Midwest chapter to help understand and communicate about climate impacts across several sectors.
Climate Hazard and Mitigation Planning (CHaMP) Tool
Use this tool to explore climate data and hazard information through interactive visuals and explanatory text.
Neighborhoods at Risk*** Use this web-based tool to generate customized, interactive maps and reports that describe characteristics of neighborhoods that are potentially vulnerable to climate change.
Using Economics to Support Climate Adaptation*** Review this report for strategies, methods, and case studies of cities that have used economic data and methods to advance climate adaptation programs.
Tailored Products  
Vulnerability Assessment Workbook and Template (e.g., Toledo, OH, Ferndale, MI, and Madison, WI) See examples of reports that used GLISA’s vulnerability assessment template and workbook.
Climate Summaries (e.g., Dayton, OH) See examples of climate summaries that GLISA has created for other cities. 

Vulnerability Assessments
How have local governments used GLISA resources for vulnerability assessments?

Primary users: Sustainability staff, stormwater/floodplain managers, urban planners

Adaptation and Resilience Planning

How have local governments used GLISA resources in adaptation and resilience planning?

  • Watch this video to hear from city sustainability staff from Evanston and Indianapolis about their experience working with GLISA.
  • The City of Indianapolis incorporated information from their customized climatology into the Thrive Indianapolis Sustainability and Resilience Plan.
  • The City of Evanston used GLISA’s customized climate information from their vulnerability assessment template in their Climate Action and Resilience Plan.
  • The City of Detroit is using GLISA’s updated city climatology for Detroit, specifically indicators on days over 90 and 100 degrees, in their Sustainability Action Agenda.
  • The American Planning Association and Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning cited GLISA resources in the Using Climate Information in Local Planning report, which helps Great Lakes cites mainstream climate science in planning efforts.
  • Washtenaw County, MI used a matrix of Climate Hazards in the Great Lakes Region developed by GLISA in their Resilient Washtenaw Plan, and viewed a climate 101 presentation from GLISA during the public engagement period of the plan’s development.


Primary users: Sustainability staff, stormwater/floodplain managers, urban planners

Hazard Mitigation Planning
How have local governments used GLISA resources for hazard mitigation planning?

Primary users: Emergency managers, stormwater/floodplain managers

Policy Development
How have local governments used GLISA resources to develop new ordinances and other policies?
  • The City of Ann Arbor used historical observations and future projections of extreme precipitation to justify proposing higher building standards within the floodplain to minimize public and private losses due to flooding.
  • Washtenaw County revised their Procedures and Design Criteria for Stormwater Managements Systems to use updated NOAA Atlas 14 data for design storms (rather than FEMA flood maps) on GLISA’s recommendation.

Primary users: Sustainability staff, stormwater/floodplain managers, urban planners

Project planning and implementation
How have local governments used GLISA resources for project planning and implementation?
  • The City of Ferndale, MI used their vulnerability assessment results in discussions for their capital improvement plan.

Primary users: Sustainability staff, public works officials, stormwater engineers

How have local governments used GLISA resources to secure funding?

Primary users: Sustainability staff, stormwater/floodplain managers

Communication, education, and outreach
How have partners used GLISA resources for communication, education, and outreach?

Primary users: Sustainability staff, outreach specialists, public health practitioners

*GLISA coordinates the development of the Annual Climate Trends and Impacts Summary for the Great Lakes Basin in partnership with several organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

**GLISA served as a co-author for the Midwest chapter in the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) Volume II, Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation.

***GLISA and Headwaters Economics have a long-standing partnership that has resulted in the creation of several tools and resources, including the Neighborhoods at Risk tool and the How to Use Economics to Build Support for Climate Adaptation report.