A group of people tours a community solar garden in Minnesota

Building Resilience in the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes region has a highly energy-intensive economy and emits large amounts of greenhouse gases—thus it has a large potential for mitigation. Some cities in the region are actively involved in adaptation and mitigation planning to confront changes in their environment due to climate change.

Energy production in the Great Lakes relies heavily on coal-based generation; increasingly transitioning from coal to natural gas in the region has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The region also has the potential to develop low- or zero-carbon emission energy sources, which could include a mix of wind, solar, and biomass resources. Expanded nuclear energy production is also a consideration. From a socioeconomic standpoint, increasing resiliency and grid security for current and future energy systems in a changing climate is essential.

Particularly with respect to increasing coastal hazards associated with more frequent and powerful storms, communities are incorporating resilience principles into their master plans and considering ways that their infrastructure and other investments can be designed to better withstand these threats.

Federal agencies, through regional groups such as those working on Annex 9 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, are addressing mounting threats to the prosperity and resilience of the Great Lakes region by examining many sectors, including food and water security, infrastructure, and public health and safety.

Great Lakes climate centers

Several federal agencies have established regional climate centers to serve as hubs for information about projected climate impacts on specific sectors; these include agriculture, forestry, long-term climate predictions, phrenology, and ecosystems. Visit the websites below to find more information on how you can build resilience in your area.

  • Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessment (GLISA) | GLISA integrates information from a wide array of scientific fields, develops collaborations between entities with similar goals, and helps inform decision makers throughout the region with sound science, offering a unique approach to building climate literacy, long-term sustainability, and facilitating smart decision making across the eight Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario. 
  • NOAA Regional Climate Services | Increases the value of climate information to users and supports more efficient, cost-effective delivery of products and services by integrating the work within NOAA and among its partners engaged in developing and delivering climate services at the regional level, including the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) programs, Regional Climate Centers, state climatologists, and the National Integrated Drought Information System, as well as other agencies, institutions, and organizations.
  • NOAA Midwestern Regional Climate Center | Provides practical solutions to specific climate problems and develops climate information for the Midwest on climate-sensitive issues such as agriculture, climate change, energy, the environment, human health, risk management, transportation, and water resources.
  • NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center | Provides, in an easy-to-use format, recent and historical weather data customized to meet the needs of people in the Northeast U.S.
  • DOI Northeast Climate Science Center | Provides scientific information, tools, and techniques that managers and other parties interested in land, water, wildlife, and cultural resources can use to anticipate, monitor, and adapt to climate change in the Northeast region.
  • USDA Midwest Climate Hub | Providing information that will help producers cope with climate change through linkages of research, education, and extension partnerships. Encompassing Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois, this region represents one of the most intense areas of agricultural production in the world, with a wide array of products.
  • USDA Northeast Climate Hub |  Building network collaborations, connecting stakeholders to climate-related resources, and working to fill in information gaps where needed for people who work the land from northern Maine to West Virginia. 
  • USDA Northern Forests Climate Hub | The Northern Forests Climate Hub assists natural resource managers, woodland owners, and others interested in forests to integrate climate change information into planning, decision making, and management activities.
  • State climatologists | Provide improved climate services for the nation through greater integration of data quality control, improved communication among the sector, and more coordinated referral of customer inquiries.


To learn more about building resilience, visit Topics. The following topics may be particularly helpful:

Banner Image Credit
A tour of community solar gardens at Lake Region Electric Cooperative, hosted by a Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams—or CERTs—team. Image credit: Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams. CC BY-NC 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/, via Flickr
Last modified
24 May 2019 - 4:25pm