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21 universities team up for Great Lakes Futures Project

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

A new project is going to try to predict the future of the Great Lakes. 

It’s called... wait for it... the Great Lakes Futures Project.  It’s a collaboration of 21 universities from the U.S. and Canada. 

Don Scavia is the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. He’s one of four project leaders.  He says students will team up with a counterpart from the other country, along with a faculty mentor.  The teams will develop white papers outlining the biggest things driving change in the Great Lakes region. 

“They’ll be looking at things like climate, economics, demographics, chemical and biological pollution, invasive species. Looking back, what have the trends been in the past 50 years and what do we expect trends to look like in the next 50 years?”

Scavia says climate change is making everything more complicated.

“Almost everything we see, every one of those stresses we worry about are getting more difficult because of climate change, because of the change in precipitation patterns, because of the warming of the lakes, because of the warming of the atmosphere in the region, makes those standard problems even worse, so it really is the set of problems we’re used to on steroids.”

Scavia says the university teams will hold a workshop in January.  They’ll ask government agencies, industries and environmental groups to join them. The group will talk about the best ways to manage the Great Lakes in the future and make policy recommendations.

The project will cost about $200,000. The 21 universities are splitting the bill.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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