Regional climate change organization hosts symposium at 'U'

Adam Schnitzer/Daily
Speakers present recent projects of the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center at the GLSIA Symposium in Palmer Commons on Thursday, Nov 3. Buy this photo

By Younjoo Sang, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 3, 2011

The Great Lakes Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center, a foundation based on global climate change, held a symposium yesterday at Palmer Commons that emphasized the importance of collaboration among scientists and legislators to develop effective environmental policy.

A joint collaboration between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, The Ohio State University and the Michigan Sea Grant program, GLSIA works on climate change issues in the Great Lakes region, specifically on watersheds of Lake Huron and Lake Erie, according to David Bidwell, the University’s GLISA program manager. At yesterday’s event, investigators of the GLISA’s Core Program presented five projects the organization is working on to improve outreach to stakeholders.

The project topics include lake evaporation, water resource management, response to extreme heat events, agricultural yields and water resources and harvest management of Great Lakes whitefish.

Maria Carmen Lemos, associate professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and Rackham student Scott Kalafatis, a graduate student research assistant in SNRE, presented a computer database of past stakeholder documents that analyzed frequent keywords to locate primary stakeholder concerns about the various topics.

“We look at past documents in order to not ask our stakeholders what had already been asked and to see how things have changed in what is emphasized,” Lemos said.

Through the document coding, Kalafatis said they learned that water levels and their impact on shipping and fishing are major topics of concern, and stakeholders desire more cost-effective analysis.

Ken Frank, a GLISA investigator from MSU, presented his project, which analyzed two-mode network documents to examine how scientists collaborate to provide policymakers with scientific data to assist in their legislative decisions.

“We’re seeing how we get from A to B, if you will,” Frank said.

GLISA investigator Laura Briley, a research computer specialist at the University, said the organization aims to review and assess downscaled climate projection. Its members also design and develop climate change solutions by collaborating with climate scientists, social scientists, specialists in the area and project stakeholders.

GLISA is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which first granted the organization funding in October 2010. Bidwell said the program specifically examines the primary and secondary effects of climate change like the impacts on agriculture, recreation, tourism and water management.

In coordination with the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Program — an organization that supports climate change research initiatives — Bidwell said GLISA aims to contribute to maintaining sustainability efforts and to apply scientific knowledge to decision-making processes in Ann Arbor.

“What makes our RISA different from other RISA (programs) is that we have a nice balance between social science and climate science,” Bidwell said.