Interactive map to support climate change adaptation planning in Great Lakes region

Aug 14, 2013
Interactive map to support climate change adaptation planning in Great Lakes region
Screenshot of interactive map that shows how the social and economic characteristics of the Great Lakes Region are impacted by regionally specific changes in climate. It was developed in partnership with the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities at the University of Michigan.

A jointly developed interactive map launched this month by the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute and Headwaters Economics gives Great Lakes policymakers and decision-makers easy access to targeted data to help them plan for, and adapt to, the regional impacts of climate change.

The free online tool—the "Socioeconomics and Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region" map— provides social, economic and demographic statistics on 225 counties in the region, overlaid with detailed data about municipal spending, land-use change and climate-change characteristics.

It was co-developed by the Graham Sustainability Institute (as part of its Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities project, known as GLAA-C) and Headwaters Economics, an independent, nonprofit research group. The Kresge Foundation funded and facilitated the collaboration.

"We anticipate that the impacts of and change will be felt differently in different regions of the Great Lakes based on their economies, infrastructure and vulnerable populations," said Don Scavia, director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. "This collaboratively built resource is designed to give these communities some of the solutions-focused, place-based they need to adapt."

Elizabeth Gibbons, GLAA-C project manager and research area specialist, further explained: "The interactive map is geared toward helping stakeholders see how changes in climate interact with social, economic and land-use changes across the region. We're really hoping it proves to be a valuable tool for all the municipalities who use it."

Matt Naud, sustainability coordinator for the city of Ann Arbor, was one of several regional officials and practitioners who served on the project planning steering committee over the past year—including a full-day design roundtable this past spring. He said there was a very strong planning process for deciding what content the tool should display.

"This interactive map displays a lot of valuable information for telling the story of climate vulnerability for different regions in the state," he said. "This could really help drive some important discussions about economics and climate resiliency."

Megan Hunter, chief planning officer for the city of Flint, said, "We see a lot of vulnerability in our city because of age and poverty. By taking an even closer look at our demographics and infrastructure data through the mapping tool, we can clearly see how cooling centers and other actions are key to responding to our residents' needs."

According to John Nordgren, senior program officer for the Kresge Foundation's Environment program, this kind of community-specific planning to adapt to is exactly what the Kresge Foundation was seeking when it supported the Graham Sustainability Institute and Headwaters Economics in collaborating on the interactive map.

Ray Rasker, executive director of Headwaters Economics, said the new is a data-rich, user-friendly visual tool.

"Whether end users just want to have a quick look at core content or really dive in for details, they should be able to easily find information to help them better understand , its potential impacts, and how they can help their communities adapt," Rasker said.

The online tool—which includes historical data from 1951 to 2011—covers counties in the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. U-M and Headwaters Economics expect to co-develop a similar map for Ontario in the months ahead.

Multiple people contributed toward planning and previewing the resource, including stakeholders from the state of Michigan's Community Health Department; the cities of Ann Arbor, Cleveland, Dayton, Flint and Toledo; U-M faculty members from urban planning, public health and natural resources and environment; and staff members from the Graham Sustainability Institute, the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center and Headwaters Economics.

The online map is available for use at no cost through both the Graham Sustainability Institute and Headwaters Economics websites.

Explore further: Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

More information: Interactive map on Graham Sustainability Institute website:
Interactive map on Headwaters Economics website:… ve/great-lakes-atlas

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Models for a more effective response to climate change

Aug 05, 2013

There is now widespread acceptance that the climate is changing due to human-related greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change will affect all sectors of society and the environment at the local, national ...

Natural disasters: Is your municipality vulnerable?

Mar 19, 2013

How vulnerable are municipalities to adverse effects from flooding, strong winds, avalanches, land or mudslides or other natural disasters? In Norway, researchers have developed an interactive map displaying ...

U-M, other universities launch Great Lakes protection project

Oct 15, 2012

The University of Michigan and 20 other U.S. and Canadian universities will join forces to propose a set of long-term research and policy priorities to help protect and restore the Great Lakes and to train the next generation ...

Recommended for you

Dead floppy drive: Kenya recycles global e-waste

22 hours ago

In an industrial area outside Kenya's capital city, workers in hard hats and white masks take shiny new power drills to computer parts. This assembly line is not assembling, though. It is dismantling some ...

New paper calls for more carbon capture and storage research

Aug 22, 2014

Federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must involve increased investment in research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies, according to a new paper published by the University of Wyoming's ...

Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

Aug 22, 2014

Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (4) Aug 14, 2013
I'm disappointed that I can't find anything about the place I once lived in north of the lakes, but I'm also pleasantly surprised that Ontario isn't overlaid with the text "Here be Eskimos and Dragons".