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Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

Navigating an Uncertain Future

Thomas Dietz, David Bidwell

Publication Year: 2012

People living in the Great Lakes region are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Shifts in seasonal temperatures and precipitation patterns could have dramatic impacts on the economy, ecology, and quality of life. In this illuminating and thorough volume, leading scholars address the challenge of preparing for climate change in the region, where decision makers from various sectors — government, agriculture, recreation, and tourism — must increasingly be aware of the need to incorporate climate change into their short- and long-term planning. The chapters in this revealing book, written by some of the foremost climate change scholars in North America, outline the major trends in the climate of the Great Lakes region, how humans might cope with the uncertainty of climate change impacts, and examples of on-the-ground projects that have addressed these issues.

Published by: Michigan State University Press


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p. c-c

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Thinking about Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

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pp. 1-14

Thinking about climate change made a dramatic turn in the first decade of the twenty- first century. The scientific consensus is a near certainty that human activities are changing the climate— that warming is unequivocal. To quote a recent report by the U.S. National Academies of (2010b, 1): “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses ...

Part One: Effects of Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

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Historical Climate Trends in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region

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pp. 17-34

The Great Lakes Basin of North America contains the largest supply of freshwater in the world, with more than 20 percent of the global total (Quinn 1988) (figure 1). The region spans steep climate, geological, and vegetation gradients. Geological features transition from ancient crystalline rocks of the continental craton overlain by glacial sediments in the Figure 1. Geographical outline of the Great Lakes Basin of North America...

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Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies for Great Lakes Nearshore and Coastal Systems

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pp. 35-62

Within the Great Lakes Basin, individual species, biological communities, and the ecosystem as a whole have adapted to a natural range of physical and environmental conditions that are controlled by the interaction of master variables— climate, geology, and hydrology. Climate change has the potential to significantly alter the physical integrity of the Great Lakes by altering the natural processes and pathways that convey ...

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Climate Change and Biodiversity in the Great Lakes Region: From “Fingerprints” of Change to Helping Safeguard Species

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pp. 63-96

Over the last century, the average global surface temperature has increased approximately 0.8ºC, and the rate of warming continues to accelerate (Trenberth et al. 2007). Even with this amount of warming, which is small compared to the net increase we may see in the relatively near future (an additional 1.1º to 6.4ºC or more increase in the global average by 2100 according to Meehl et al. 2007), wild species are already exhibiting ...

Part Two: Decision Making and Climate Change

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Decision Making under Climate Uncertainty: The Power of Understanding Judgment and Decision Processes

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pp. 99-128

The disciplines of economics and political science, as well as applied climate science, have added a great deal to our understanding of the obstacles to the use of climate information. However, in order for climate information to be fully embraced and successfully implemented into risk management, the issue needs to be looked at in terms of risk communication to human decision makers— as individuals (e.g., a farmer in Ontario) ...

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Agricultural Adaptation to Climate Change: Is Uncertain Information Usable Knowledge?

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pp. 129-158

The earth likely is committed to at least 0.5° to 0.6°C of future warming in response to historical atmospheric accumulations of greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of steps taken, if any, to mitigate future emissions (Karl and Trenberth 2003; IPCC 2007). Unabated future emissions will surely add even more warming and climate changes. The effects of ...

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Adapting to Climate Change in the Context of Multiple Risks: A Case Study of Cash Crop Farming in Ontario

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pp. 159-176

Agriculture is inherently sensitive to climatic conditions, and hence is frequently cited as a sector that is potentially vulnerable to anticipated global climate change; indeed, numerous scenario- based climate- change impact assessments have forecast problematic effects such as declining crop yields and heightened food insecurity (e.g., Rosenzweig 1990; Rosenzweig and Parry 1994; Brklacich and Stewart 1995). These ...

Part Three: Adaptation Tools and Case Studies

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The Contextual Importance of Uncertainty in Climate-Sensitive Decision-Making: Toward an Integrative Decision-Centered Screening Tool

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pp. 179-212

As human- induced climate change is increasingly accepted as fact, and decision makers begin to grapple seriously with the policy and management implications, climatic changes have the potential to become relevant to decision making; but the challenges of effectively linking science to policymaking and management practice are real and difficult to overcome. While uncertainties in climate change projections matter in ...

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Linking Science to Decision Making in the Great Lakes Region

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pp. 213-230

How does one provide timely and useful scientific information about climate change to decision makers in the Great Lakes region so they can make more informed decisions? Decision makers and resource managers are becoming increasingly aware that climate change may have important implications for the work they do and the attainment of their goals, and should therefore be an additional consideration in their decision- ...

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The Development and Communication of an Ensemble of Local- Scale Climate Scenarios: An Example from the Pileus Project

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pp. 231-248

A rapidly expanding body of literature focuses on the potential impacts of future climate change on natural and human systems at spatial scales ranging from global to local. This literature, referred to as assessments of climate change impact, adaptation, and vulnerability (Carter et al. 2007), or more casually as climate change assessments, often has one or more climate scenarios as a starting point. A “scenario” simply refers to an internally ...

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Preparing for Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region

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pp. 249-258

There is ample evidence that climate change could have serious repercussions on the economy, ecology, infrastructure, and lifestyles of the Great Lakes region. Sooner or later, residents of the region will have to adapt to current and anticipated conditions caused by changes in temperature, precipitation and other seasonal weather patterns. Adapting to climate change requires people to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty ...

Notes on the Contributors

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pp. 259-264

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Reflections on Stephen H. Schneider

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pp. 265-266

Stephen H. Schneider was a leading participant in the symposium generating the papers in this volume. Steve contributed deep insights, an unparalleled ability to span disciplines, a measured sense of urgency, an insistence that we heed the science and be open and clear about uncertainty, and an unfailing sense of humor in the face of the often daunting climate problem, his own health struggles, and the increasingly nasty attacks on ...


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pp. 267-269

E-ISBN-13: 9781609172367
E-ISBN-10: 1609172361
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860122
Print-ISBN-10: 1609172361

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 43
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1st Hardcover