Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessment (GLISA)

GLISA Annual Report 2018 
(Period of Performance: 6/1/17 - 5/31/18)

GLISA Phase I Final Report
(Period of Performance: 2010 - 2016) 

GLISA Briefing Sheet (2017)

Principal Investigator
Maria Carmen Lemos 

Program Manager
Jenna Jorns

Jeffrey Andresen
Maria Carmen Lemos

Ken Frank
Richard Rood

Omar Gates
Laura Briley

Affiliated Institutions
Michigan State University
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Dates Funded

GLISA Website

Mission & Vision

GLISA is one of eleven RISAs, which comprise a national network of centers focused on adaptation to climate change and variability. 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. GLISA offers a unique approach to building climate literacy, long-term sustainability, and facilitating smart decision making across the eight Great Lakes states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the province of Ontario.


  • To contribute to the long-term sustainability of the region in the face of a changing climate
  • Facilitate smart decision-making backed by scientific knowledge

GLISA Approach

GLISA leverages a number of unique strategies to fulfill its goals of building climate literacy and expanding the climate knowledge network. These strategies include activating the boundary chain model, integrating local and historical climate data into decision making, addressing uncertainty and downscaling, and utilizing network mapping to find key entry points across the region.

Read more about GLISA's Approach to supporting climate adaptation»


GLISA plays a technical role in many climate change adaptation projects across the Great Lakes region. GLISA engages with each project to understand the problems or challenges faced in light of climate change. Teams of diverse experts, including GLISA as the regional climate expert, work together to address these problems. Annually, GLISA awards three to six one-year grants of up to $50,000 each to boundary organizations that will work with GLISA to address the risks of climate change and variability in the Great Lakes region.

Find out about all of GLISA’s partnerships and supported projects at our projects webpage

Select Projects

  • Natural Systems Resiliency Toolkit: Huron River Watershed Council uses financial and technical GLISA support to build and maintain a climate resiliency program. This toolkit provides management strategies that can be adopted to enhance resilience and preserve natural resources.
  • Lake Evaporation Research and Temperature Forecasting Tools: This research initiative sought to understand how lake evaporation, could be impacted by climate change, and what that impact could mean for lake levels.
  • Municipal Adaptation Planning and Communication: The Graham Sustainability Institute’s Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C) project and GLISA forged a successful partnership, with GLAA-C functioning as a boundary organization to reach municipalities across the region. Two exemplary engagements were in Ann Arbor and Flint, Michigan, two cities that share geographic proximity but experience dramatically different socio-economic conditions. Boundary work in Ann Arbor led to the creation and deployment of three climate videos that address climate change impacts on the city, actions that the city is taking regarding these impacts, and actions individuals could engage in. In Flint, GLISA and GLAA-C collaborated with the City Planning Office to incorporate accurate climate information in the city’s most recent Master Planning Process and include climate-resilient policies into the City’s revised zoning and building codes.
  • Vulnerable Communities’ Engagement: GLISA provided funding to Macalester University in Saint Paul, Minnesota to launch a pilot program in three low-income, racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. This pilot engaged collaboratively brought community members together to create two climate impact scenarios in each neighborhood, one acute impact (e.g. flooding) and one chronic impact (e.g. heat). By employing videos and other tools, they simulated an event and asked participants to articulate how they would react, what resources they have available to respond, and what resources are lacking. Additionally they identified whether they felt individuals, the neighborhood, or the city should be responsible for preparedness activities. The project is still completing its findings, but it is a significant first step in learning more about engagement in vulnerable communities.
  • Linking Health and Climate Change: Through close collaboration with the Michigan Department of Community Health (DCH), GLISA is providing climate information to help communities understand the relationship between human health and a changing climate and adapt to those changes. Working with the DCH’s Michigan Climate and Health Adaptation Program, GLISA is providing climate information to develop a Climate and Health profile for the state, which will project how climate changes affect the burden of diseases. In partnership with the DCH, GLISA investigators helped model social and behavioral drivers during extreme heat events. CDC nationwide could use the heat vulnerability tool produced by this investigation.
  • National Climate Assessment Engagement: The GLISA team has played a central role in the development, promotion, distribution, and synthesis of the Third National Climate Assessment. GLISA provided the technical input reports for the Midwest chapter and Donald Scavia was the chapter’s lead co-author. GLISA hosted the Assessment’s Midwest draft review and rollout event. GLISA wrote a Great Lakes Synthesis Report that compiles key impacts from the Northeast and Midwest Chapters to tell a composite story for the eight Great Lakes states.
  • Tribal Adaptation Planning:The College of Menominee Nation and GLISA work together on the challenge of how specific tribes can adapt to climate change in ways that ensure the protection of tribal cultures and harness cultural resources, as well as integrate the best scientific resources about environmental change, address emerging social problems, and negotiate jurisdictional challenges unique to federally-recognized tribes.
  • Isle Royale National Park: Climate Change Scenario Planning: Beginning in 2012, the GLISA team partnered with the National Park Service to integrate climate information into NPS’s scenario-planning approach in an effort to evaluate potential impacts on the delicate wolf and moose ecosystem on Isle Royale. Through the development of four scenarios (least change, summer drought, warmer than Duluth, and isle savanna), the team created an easy-to-read table that outlines how each species would fare under each condition relative to its current state. The key findings were released in a report (link to report) and are summarized as ‘Restoration to past not possible’, ‘Perpetuation of present unlikely’, ‘Make best possible future’. GLISA and NPS are partnering to replicate this process on the Apostle Islands to see if the lessons learned from the Isle Royale engagement are transferable. If so, NPS parks may adopt the process across the country.

Decision Support Tools

  • Climate Impacts & Adaptation Tool (CIAT): The Cities Impacts & Adaptation Tool (CIAT) is a climate adaptation planning support tool for decision makers at the city level in the Great Lakes region. It provides usable data such as demographics, socioeconomic data, and both current and projected climate trends. Using this information, the tool also identifies a custom network of climate peers whose current climate reflects how yours may look in the future. The CIAT also provides a searchable database of adaptation strategies pulled from existing climate action plans from across the country.
  • Socioeconomics and Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Developed in partnership with the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C), this interactive tool shows how the social and economic characteristics of the Great Lakes region are impacted by regionally specific changes in climate. 
  • is a web-based tool to support climate change problem solving among communities of scientists and users of climate information (i.e., decision-makers, stakeholders, etc). This tool is not intended to serve everyone everywhere working on climate problems, rather, it is best suited for existing networks of people that have a common denominator, such as a shared regional geography.

Other Resources

  • GLISA on Facebook: A Facebook Page to connect with GLISA stakeholders and interested parties. Regularly updated with items about GLISA research and related work in the Great Lakes region.
  • GLISA on Twitter: A Twitter account for GLISA sharing GLISA and Great Lakes-related news.
  • Great Lakes Station Climatologies: In partnership with the Office of the State Climatologist, GLISA developed summaries of this information for selected sites across the Great Lakes region. Each summary includes an overview of the climate along with relevant data and graphs. These climatologies can inform local adaptation planning and decisions. 
  • Great Lakes Regional Climatologies: In partnership with the Midwest Regional Climate Center and the Office of the Michigan State Climatologist, GLISA has developed summaries of the observed historical climate for NOAA U.S. Climate Divisions within the Great Lakes basin. Each summary includes an overview of temperature and precipitation to help guide local-level climate adaptation decisions. Select an available summary by clicking on the division in the map above. javascript must be enabled in your browser to use the map.



Dr. Chelsea Combest-Friedman
Social Scientist, Program Director (Acting)
P: (301) 734-1240

Caitlin Simpson
Program Manager
P: (301) 734-1251

Dr. Ariela Zycherman
Social Scientist, Program Manager
P: (301) 734-1244

Sean Bath*
Program Specialist (UCAR)
P: (301) 734-1294


Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. 


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