Great Lakes Water Levels
Water levels on the Great Lakes are dynamic. They change in the shorter timeframe of seconds to days due primarily to wind patterns and waves and in the longer timeframe of months to years due to precipitation in the basin, evaporation, and flow through the rivers that connect the lakes. These resources can help people understand the variability of lake levels and how communities can become more resilient to extreme water levels.
All of Wisconsin’s coastal communities are vulnerable to flooding. The resources featured in this topic are organized by the four phases of emergency management – preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. Utilizing these resources can help local officials and property owners become more resilient to flooding hazards.
Ports, Harbors & Marinas
Commercial shipping in Wisconsin requires well-maintained ports and harbors, while recreational boating relies on access to marinas and other landings. These resources help guide decision-making about the marine infrastructure that supports shipping and boating.
Nearshore Freshwater Habitats
Nearshore freshwater habitats are an important component of the complex and dynamic Great Lakes Basin and are vital to the success of Wisconsin’s coastal communities. These areas are a key priority for restoration and protection because they are the source of drinking water for most coastal communities, are the areas of the lakes where most human recreation (e.g., swimming, boating, and fishing) and education opportunities occur, and are the critical ecological link between watersheds and the open waters of the Great Lakes.
Green stormwater infrastructure practices such as rain gardens, green roofs, bioswales, porous pavement, and constructed wetlands hold great promise for reducing urban flooding and increasing water quality. These resources help measure the effectiveness of green infrastructure practices, remove barriers to their implementation, and apply collaborative approaches to design scenarios across a range of scales from individual sites to entire watersheds.
Climate adaptation means taking action to prepare for and adjust to the current and projected impacts of climate change. The goal of adaptation is to reduce risks from the harmful effects of climate change and take advantage of any beneficial opportunities. In the Great Lakes region, climate change is likely to cause more extreme rainfall events and flooding, rising temperatures, declining ice cover, and periods of extreme high and low water levels in the lakes. These resources provide information about the risks faced by Great Lakes communities and strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change in this region.