Climate Adaptation

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. 

Getting Started

Climate Adaptation

United Nations

This website from the United Nations includes an overview of what climate adaptation is and provides examples of adaptation from around the world. 

Climate Adaptation

Environmental Protection Agency

This resource hub from the EPA provides access to information and tools to learn more about climate adaptation strategies in a variety of sectors. 

Responding to Climate Change


This website defines climate mitigation and adaption and provides resources to learn more about NASA’s work on these topics. 

Climate Changes along the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Climate Resilience

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

This website describes effects of climate change specific to the Great Lakes regions and the Great Lakes themselves.  

Great Lakes Climate Impacts

Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments

This website summarizes recent research and available data on the impacts of climate change in the Great Lakes region. 

Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab

This resource provides interactive visualization of water levels on each of the Great Lakes.

Lake Level Viewer

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab

This web-based tool creates visuals that capture lake level changes that range from six feet above to six feet below historical long-term average water levels in the Great Lakes. Potential shoreline and coastal impacts are also provided. 

Historical Ice Cover

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab

This site provides access to data about ice cover on the Great Lakes from the 1970s to present. 

Assess Impacts on Communities

Coastal Processes Manual

Wisconsin Sea Grant

This manual provides step-by-step instructions on how to estimate risk to Great Lakes coastal property from extreme lake levels, storms, and erosion. 

Wisconsin Shoreline Inventory and Oblique Photo Viewer

Association of State Floodplain Managers

This map shows viewers historic photos of the coast, assessments of bluff and shoreline conditions, and measurements of historic bluff and shoreline recession in a web-based, interactive map of Wisconsin coastal data.  

Future Climate Scenarios for Great Lakes Cities

Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments

These climate scenarios show what projected climate change could look like in the future and are intended to aid in city and local planning. Scenarios are accompanied by planning workbooks. 

Adaptation Strategies

A Practitioners Guide to Implementing the Steps to Resilience

NOAA and the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

This guidebook offers a set of procedures to accompany each phase of the Steps to Resilience so that professionals may compare their efforts and so that progress toward climate resilience may be evaluated on a national scale even while communities work toward their individual goals. 

Adapting to a Changing Coast

Wisconsin Sea Grant

This publication contains policy, permitting, funding, and collaboration options that local governments can pursue to improve their ability to adapt to changing water levels and other coastal hazards. 

Nature-Based Shoreline Options for the Great Lakes Coasts

Wisconsin Sea Grant

This guide describes different types of nature-based shoreline techniques that are suitable for the Great Lakes alongside case study examples. 

Strategies for Adapting Great Lakes Coastal Ecosystems to Climate Change 

U.S. Department of Agriculture Climate Hub

This resource presents a menu of adaptation actions to help practitioners move from general concepts to tangible, targeted adaptation tactics for their system. 

Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad: A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu  

Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

This resource is an extensive collection of climate change adaptation actions for natural resources management, organized into tiers of general and more specific ideas. It also includes guiding principles to support working with tribal communities.  

Using Green Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater Runoff 

Wisconsin Sea Grant

This page contains resources and tools to help plan and implement green infrastructure as a method for managing stormwater runoff. 

Networks Focused on Climate Adaptation

Great Lakes Climate Adaptation Network (GLCAN) 

Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments

This regional network of local government staff and partners actively works together to identify and act on the unique climate adaptation challenges of the Great Lakes region. 

Coastal Resilience Working Group

Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts

This group uses innovative methods and technologies to describe and predict the effects that the changing climate will have on the communities and property owners of Wisconsin’s coastlines.

Coastal Hazards of Superior Community of Practice (CHAOS)

NOAA Partners in Minnesota and Wisconsin

This group provides a platform for engaging local community leaders, managers, researchers, and communicators with a shared concern about coastal hazards in the western Lake Superior region.

Collaborative Action for Lake Michigan Coastal Resilience (CALM)

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and partners

This network works to sustain, strengthen, and connect existing regional coastal resilience networks to expand collaboration across Wisconsin’s entire Lake Michigan coastline.

Organizations and Networks in Coastal Resilience 

Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and partners

This page collects information about many organizations working on coastal resilience and climate adaptation related to the Great Lakes.