Report of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board
4.2
CLIMATE CHANGE - ADDRESSING IMPACTS IN THE GREAT LAKES BASIN
C
To provide insight into the issues and impacts associated
limate provides fundamental limits on, and oppor
with climate change in the Great Lakes region, the options
tunities for human activities and ecosystem func
available to address those impacts, and the challenges
tioning.  A change in climate could lead to alter-
associated with taking action, the WQB commissioned a
ations and impacts on:
white paper, Climate Change and Water Quality in the
Great Lakes Region:  Risks, Opportunities, and Responses.
the frequency and severity of droughts and floods;
The white paper addressed four key questions:
surface and ground water quantity and supply;
air, soil, sediment, and water quality;
What are the Great Lakes water quality issues associ-
human health;
ated with climate change?
ecosystem health and functioning;
What are potential impacts of climate change on
resource use and the economy, including agriculture,
beneficial uses?
forestry, the fishery, recreation, tourism, energy,
How might impacts vary across the Great Lakes region?
transportation, and manufacturing; and
What are the implications for decision making?
the “built” environment, including sewer and treat-
ment plant capacity.
To confirm the scientific and technical basis that character-
izes and underpins the conclusions and findings, the white
Numerous stresses already challenge the Great Lakes -- land
paper was subjected to external review.  In addition, to
use changes, chemical contamination, nutrient over-
ensure that the WQB had properly characterized the
enrichment, alien invasive species, and acid precipitation.
consequences of climate change, appreciated the chal-
Climate change is yet another agent, acting in concert with
lenges for taking action, and could provide sound advice to
other stresses.
address impacts, the findings presented in the white paper
were “ground-truthed” at a stakeholder workshop held May
The magnitude of changes presently occurring in our
28-29, 2003.  The white paper, revised in light of the
climate raises questions about the extent of their impact
external review and the contributions from workshop
and our ability to adapt.  The IJC is concerned about the
participants, constitutes a separate report to the IJC.  That
impact of climate change and variability for the Great Lakes
report also presents the WQB’s findings and advice.
region and its residents, in particular, achievement of
beneficial uses given in Annex 2 of the Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement.  The IJC asked its Great Lakes Water
Based on its findings to date, the WQB will continue its
Quality Board (WQB) to provide advice about implications
investigation of selected aspects of the climate change issue
and impacts of climate change on Great Lakes water quality
during the IJC’s 2003-05 priority cycle.
and beneficial uses, and how we can address changes.
Report of the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers
94