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Promoting Climate Adaptation Planning in Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Coastal Communities. Jim Lubner and David Hart University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute Green Energy Summit Milwaukee, Wisconsin March 11, 2011. Presentation Outline.

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promoting climate adaptation planning in wisconsin s great lakes coastal communities

Promoting Climate Adaptation Planningin Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Coastal Communities

Jim Lubner and David Hart

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute

Green Energy Summit

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

March 11, 2011

presentation outline
Presentation Outline
  • Overview of the WICCI Coastal Communities Working Group
  • Future Climate Impacts on the Great Lakes
  • Vulnerabilities
  • Adaptation Strategies
coastal communities w g charter
Coastal Communities W.G. Charter
  • Scope of Effort: The Coastal Communities Working Group will focus on the shoreline and nearshore regions of Wisconsin and how potential climate changes will affect coastal community planning, development pressures and associated coastal natural hazards.
  • Adopted: April 2009
coastal communities w g focus areas
Coastal Communities W.G. Focus Areas
  • Coastal development
    • residential, commercial, industrial,...
  • Infrastructure
    • roads, pipes, treatment plants, water intakes
    • shore protection structures
  • Ports, harbors, and marinas
    • operations
    • dredging
    • contaminated sediments
  • Tourism
    • aesthetics, beach health,…
coastal communities w g linkages
Coastal Communities W.G. Linkages
  • Stormwater WG
  • Water Resources WG
  • Milwaukee WG
  • Green Bay WG
  • Cross-Working Group Meeting
    • Manitowoc, January 7, 2010
  • Wisconsin Natural Hazards Work Group, WCMP
lake michigan huron levels from 1860
Lake Michigan/Huron Levels – from 1860

This period covers the 2 ½ year duration of the Corps-funded Lake Michigan Potential Damages Study.

High: 177.19 (7/97)

Low: 175.87 (2/00)

Range: 1.32 m (4.3 ft)

Source: GLERL

future climate impacts on gl levels
Future Climate Impacts on GL Levels
  • Prevailing thought?
    • Warmer temperatures, less snowpack, less ice cover, more evaporation, greater likelihood of lower levels
  • Great Lakes Climate Change Hydrologic Impact Assessment
    • Thomas E. Croley II, Research Hydrologist, GLERL, March 13, 2007
    • “In sum, these findings suggest a warming climate can be expected to bring a decline in the water levels of the Great Lakes, particularly the big three upper lakes.”

Source: Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Starting a Public Discussion,

UW Sea Grant/WCMP

future climate impacts on gl levels1
Future Climate Impacts on GL Levels







Source: Angel and Kunkel, 2009

coastal erosion risks
Coastal Erosion Risks
  • An increase in intense precipitation and storm events along with the impacts of warmer and wetter winters (more freeze/thaw cycles and less lake ice cover) could increase coastal erosion and may lead to more frequent episoidal deep-seated landslides.

Southern Ozaukee County, 2007

Source: David Mickelson, Lou Maher

coastal flooding risks
Coastal Flooding Risks
  • Climate change may cause the water levels on Lakes Superior and Michigan to extend beyond the range measured since 1860. Persistent low levels could lull riparian owners into a false sense of security.

Oconto County, 2007

Source: David Mickelson, Lou Maher

vulnerabilities development
Vulnerabilities – Development
  • Residential and commercial structures and property on the coast are vulnerable to erosion and flooding. The migration of the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) towards the lake during extended periods of low lake levels may encourage development in hazardous areas.

Winter storm, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Feb 1973

Source: Visualizing the Great Lakes, Minnesota Sea Grant/EPA

vulnerabilities industry utilities
Vulnerabilities – Industry/Utilities
  • Industrial facilities such as power plants and water/sewer treatment facilities are vulnerable to extreme water levels that exceed their design.
  • Water intakes may be impacted by low water levels.

Jones Island, Milwaukee, 2007

Source: David Mickelson, Lou Maher

vulnerabilities infrastructure
Vulnerabilities – Infrastructure
  • Infrastructure such as roads and drainage are susceptible to coastal erosion and flooding.
  • Shore protection structures need to be maintained over time and may not be effective if lake levels extend beyond their design parameters.

Road failure along Lake Michigan in Door County, WI caused by coastal erosion in October 2007

Source: David Hart, UW Sea Grant

vulnerabilities ports harbors marinas
Vulnerabilities – Ports, Harbors, Marinas
  • Harbors and marinas are susceptible to extreme water levels.
  • More intense coastal storms could impact dredging and re-suspend contaminated sediments.
  • Changes in water temperatures and circulation patterns could affect mixing patterns in coastal waters.

Superior Harbor, 2007

Source: David Mickelson, Lou Maher

vulnerabilities other
Vulnerabilities – Other
  • Climate change may impact tourism in coastal communities. Issues include beach health and aesthetics for hotels.
  • Natural plant communities along the Great Lakes, including coastal wetlands, may be impacted by persistent extreme lake levels.

Bark Bay, Bayfield County, 2007

Source: David Mickelson, Lou Maher

adaptation comprehensive planning
Adaptation – Comprehensive Planning
  • Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coastal communities have been active developing comprehensive and hazard mitigation plans.
  • As of March 2010, 74 of Wisconsin’s 105 coastal jurisdictions (70%) have adopted plans consistent with the comprehensive planning law.
  • An additional 22 jurisdictions (21%) are actively preparing plans, leaving only nine that are not planning.
adaptation hazard mitigation plans
Adaptation – Hazard Mitigation Plans
  • Most Great Lakes coastal counties have hazard mitigation plans approved by Wisconsin Emergency Management.
  • As of February 2009, these include Douglas, Bayfield, Iron, Brown, Kewaunee, Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha Counties.
  • Only three coastal municipalities (Superior, Sheboygan, and Milwaukee) have approved hazard mitigation plans.
adaptation plans and climate change
Adaptation – Plans and Climate Change
  • Next steps in assessing climate adaptation in Wisconsin’s coastal communities include:
    • acquiring and reviewing adopted comprehensive and hazard mitigation plans to assess if and how climate change issues are addressed,
    • determining if any coastal communities have adopted climate actions plans and assess their quality, and
    • surveying planners in coastal communities to determine ongoing climate adaption activities and assess if any technical assistance is desired.
adaptation coastal development
Adaptation – Coastal Development
  • Natural Hazards Work Group, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
  • Recent Reports
    • Lulloff and Keillor. 2010. Managing Coastal Hazard Risks in Wisconsin's Changing Climate. (Draft)
    • Ohm. 2008. Protecting Coastal Investments: Examples of Regulations for Wisconsin’s Coastal Communities.
adaptation coastal development1
Adaptation – Coastal Development
  • Lulloff/Keillor recommendations
    • Lakeward migration of development should be discouraged by adoption of a High High Water Mark or an elevation-based High Water Mark
    • Update the Wisconsin Model Coastal Setback Ordinance
    • Encourage sound stormwater/wastewater management concepts and/or non‐structural bluff protection
    • Erosion hazard maps and other site‐ and reach‐ specific erosion information should be available to the public via a maintained web site
adaptation ports harbors marinas
Adaptation – Ports, Harbors, Marinas
  • Ports and Harbors
    • Anticipate greater dredging and the need for additional bottom scour protection
    • Dock top elevation modifications and/or modified loading/unloading procedures
  • Marinas
    • Convert from fixed to floating dockage
    • Modify slip dockage schemes – allocate shallow draft vessels to shallow areas
    • Utilize stronger dock designs (especially at junctions)
adaptation other
Adaptation – Other
  • Shoreline Structures
    • Frequent inspection of wood structures
    • Encourage non-structural protection
    • Monitor for lakebed erosion
    • Adjust structure heights, if needed
  • Water Intakes
  • Tourism
  • Beach Health

Coastal Adaptation??!!

David Hart

University of Wisconsin

Sea Grant Institute

coastal communities wg members
Coastal Communities WG Members
  • Kate Angel, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
  • Kate Barrett, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Susan Boldt, Wisconsin Emergency Management
  • Gene Clark, UW Sea Grant Institute (co-chair)
  • Tuncer Edil, UW-Madison
  • David Hart, UW Sea Grant Institute (co-chair)
  • Alan Lulloff, Association of State Floodplain Managers
  • David Mickelson, UW-Madison
  • Phil Moy, UW Sea Grant Institute (co-chair)
  • Chin Wu, UW-Madison