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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Development of dynamically-based 21st century projections of snow, lake ice and winter severity for the Great Lakes Basin to guide wildlife-based adaptation planning, with emphasis on deer and waterfowl


Michael Notaro

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We developed high-resolution climate projections for the mid- and late 21st century across the Great Lakes region, including the Midwest and Northeast United States and southern Canada. We applied a regional climate model that addresses future changes in Great Lakes' water temperatures, ice cover, and evaporation, which critically impact lake-effect snowfall. This new dataset is highly valuable, given that most global climate models applied in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and National Climate Assessment either completely lack the Great Lakes or largely under-represent their coverage and impacts. After quantifying projected changes in weather severity based on air temperature and snow depth, we examined the impacts on dabbling duck migration and white-tailed deer survival. Future delays in the southward migration of dabbling ducks during the autumn-winter will increase foraging pressures in the Great Lakes region and need for available wetlands, while negatively impacting hunting and birdwatching in the southern states.