Climate and Weather

Understanding climate and weather in the Great Lakes region is important because we use that information to guide many significant personal and societal decisions. For example, we decide:

  • When to schedule outdoor events such as weddings and family reunions.
  • Which crops to plant and when.
  • How to size and design stormwater management infrastructure.
  • How much money a city should budget for snow removal.

The Changing Great Lakes

The regional climate of the Great Lakes Basin is predicted to be warmer with increased precipitation and less ice cover by the end of this century. For example, some projections include:

  • Air temperatures in the Great Lakes region are projected to increase up to 11o C in the summer and .5 to 9.1o C in the winter.
  • Summer precipitation is estimated to increase by 15-25% across much of the region.
  • Annual ice cover is projected to decrease on all lakes.
  • Climate-change-induced extreme events (e.g., more frequent and intense storms) may cause additional impacts to Great Lakes ecological and socio-economic systems.


Climate and Water Quality Project

The Great Lakes are a vital freshwater resource with chronic water quality problems. Extreme weather events are expected to affect the region’s ecosystems and ecosystem services, with impacts on social and economic well-being. Despite mounting evidence of the severity of these issues, knowledge is limited and fragmented about how the climate, ecological and social systems interact as coupled systems.

This project, supported by NSF, includes 16 co-investigators, students and others, including Michigan Sea Grant, which is leading the outreach and education component.

See: Climate Impacts on Great Lakes Water Quality

Climate Change Implications for Lake Whitefish

Currently, the Great Lakes lake whitefish fishery is the most economically valuable commercial fishery in the upper Great Lakes. But this fishery could face new “rules of the game” from climate change. One Michigan State University student, with support from Michigan Sea Grant, is developing a decision-support tool to help ensure that the fish, the fishery and the livelihoods dependent upon them remain sustainable in the face of climate change.

See: Whitefish and Climate Change Website

Climate Changes on the Grand Traverse Bay Region

A research team is examining the potential risks that climate variability and change could bring to the Grand Traverse area. The project consists of interactive workshops and technical assessments conducted by an interdisciplinary team from Michigan State University.

See: Research Project


storm over lake

Featured Publications

Featured Projects

Featured Resources