Project

This project studies water systems in a changing climate through the lens of Sustainability Science, which provides a framework where all systems can move endogenously through time with interactions. This study will develop an analytical system for the prediction of outcomes and feedbacks among the climate, biogeochemical, and social systems controlling water quality in the Great Lakes region. The focus will be on the expected impact of climate-change-related extreme events on nutrient loading to the Great Lakes, and the development of management systems that are robust and support adaptation in this context. We will select specific analytical scenarios, such as increased drought, extremes in springtime precipitation, changes in snowmelt patterns, and rapid shifts in human water use. A 50-year retrospective analysis will identify feedbacks and parameterize models to predict future changes, and a prognostic analysis will project impacts for 100 years

Project

Native communities are among the most vulnerable to climate change due to their small size and limited resources, as well limited voice in American government policy making and our culture.  DOI has declared it a mandatory goal that the agency works to assist tribes with their climate change adaptation needs.  Doing so requires considerable time developing relationships and trust. In addition to engagement through site visits, this project entails providing localized climate summaries (data tables, maps, time series) for tribal communities in the NE CASC footprint as well as engaging them in decision making frameworks such as Scenario Planning

Project

Downscaling is the process of making a coarse-scale global climate model into a finer resolution in order to capture some of the localized detail that the coarse global models cannot resolve. There are two general approaches of downscaling: dynamical and statistical. Within those, many dynamical models have been developed by different institutions, and there are a number of statistical algorithms that have been developed over the years. Many past studies have evaluated the performance of these two broad approaches of downscaling with respect to climate variables (e.g., temperature, precipitation), but few have translated these evaluations to ecological metrics that managers use to make decisions in planning for climate change. This study uses maple syrup production as a case study for evaluating how these two downscaling techniques perform in terms of projecting changes in the tapping season

Project

There is growing interest in the facilitated movement of plants as a means of conserving or restoring species and habitats, as climate conditions and management goals change. For example, plants might be relocated to support pollinator conservation or the restoration of prairies. Some land managers, in an effort to be proactive in the face of changing environmental conditions, are also considering relocating plants to sites that are considered more similar to anticipated future conditions. However, moving plants can be ecologically and economically risky. It’s possible that pests, pathogens, or contaminant weeds can be inadvertently moved along with the target plant material. In 2016, the noxious weed Palmer amaranth was introduced to Minnesota as a contaminant in seed brought in to improve Monarch butterfly and pollinator habitat. This fast growing weed is capable of reducing soybean yields by 78% and corn yields by 91%, and requires costly resources to fight its spread

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Tamarac Refuge, MN, USFWS
Project

The purpose of the Indigenous Planning Summer Institute (IPSI) is to introduce concepts of Indigenous planning; Examine the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) theoretical model of sustainability as a guide for Indigenous Planning; Visit the Menominee community and forest and surrounding tribal communities to see different examples of Indigenous Planning in practice. We have slowly built up support for this specific project over the years, including directing support from NE CASC and integrating resources, products and information into this project. The future goal we are working toward is to create indigenous students who are the next leaders, managers, and scientists in their communities, and well versed in indigenous planning concepts, in relation to climate change and other community resiliency topics

Project

The timing of major life cycle events (reproduction, flowering, feeding) is set by seasonal environmental cues in many organisms.  Migratory fish in the Great Lakes are largely spring spawners, and they move into tributary rivers as the water warms in March-June.  There is growing evidence that the timing of these migrations is shifting under climate change, creating ever-earlier migrations.  These changes in timing may profoundly change which species are present in rivers at a given time, potentially unraveling critical ecological linkages during the dynamic spring warming period.  We are analyzing historical data on migration timing of six species across the Great Lakes basin, using Bayesian statistical modeling to maximize power to detect shifts from a patchwork of migration records in space and time

Project

Climate change poses a variety of threats to biodiversity. Most efforts to assess the likely impacts of climate change on biodiversity try to rank species based on their vulnerability under changed environmental conditions. These efforts have generally not considered the ability of organisms to adjust their phenotype to the changing environment. Organisms can do this one of two ways. First, they can adjust their phenotype via non-evolutionary pathways. Second, they can undergo adaptive evolutionary change. We used two interconnected approaches to evaluate thermal adaptation capacity in a cold-water fish species. 1) Using tagging data, we estimated thermal performance curves for wild fish. The curves indicate how fish body growth will respond to changing temperatures. 2) Using genomic approaches, we developed a unified single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel for use across the species’ range to examine adaptive capacity

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This project seeks to implement the recommendations included in Science Theme 6: "Impacts of climate variability and change on cultural resources" of the NECASC Strategic Science Agenda as a baseline for future efforts in the Northeast region. Tribal nations (Tribes) in the Northeast region face different challenges and opportunities regarding climate change impacts. Each Tribe is unique in terms of its cultural, economic, geographic, jurisdictional, social, and political situation. As sovereign governments exercising self-determination, Tribes will have greater capacity to adapt if they are able to determine how climate science research can serve their governance priorities. Fulfilling the Theme 6 recommendations of the NECSC Strategic Science Agenda, then, requires a project that respects the uniqueness and self-determination of Tribes in the Northeast region

Project

Stream data for the northeastern U.S. are needed to enable managers to understand baseline conditions, historic trends, and future projections of the impacts of climate change on stream temperature and flow, and in turn on aquatic species in freshwater ecosystems. This project developed a coordinated, multi-agency regional stream temperature framework and database for New England (ME, VT, NH, CT, RI, MA) and the Great Lakes States (MN, WI, IL, MI, IN, OH, PA, NY) by building a community around the efforts of this study. These efforts included 1) compiling metadata about existing or historic stream temperature monitoring locations and networks, 2) developing a web-based decision-support mapping system to display, integrate, and share the collected information, and 3) developing data system capabilities that integrate stream temperature data from several data sources

Project

The number of fish collected in routine monitoring surveys often varies from year to year, from lake to lake, and from location to location within a lake.  Although some variability in fish catches is expected across factors such as location and season, we know less about how large-scale disturbances like climate change will influence population variability.  The Laurentian Great Lakes in North America are the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world, and they have experienced major changes due to fluctuations in pollution and nutrient loadings, exploitation of natural resources, introductions of non-native species, and shifting climatic patterns.  In this project, we analyzed established long-term data about important fish populations from across the Great Lakes basin, including from Oneida Lake in NY, Lake Michigan, and the Bay of Quinte in Lake Ontario

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Yellow perch. Photo: Solomon David
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