Science (Annex 10)

Deployment of a Sediment Profile Imaging camera to the bottom of Lake Erie from the USGS R/V Muskie to study hypoxia impacts on the food web during 2019 Lake Erie CSMI.
Deployment of a Sediment Profile Imaging camera to the bottom of Lake Erie from the USGS R/V Muskie to study hypoxia impacts on the food web during 2019 Lake Erie CSMI.

Through the Science Annex of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Canada and the United States have committed to:

“…contribute to the achievement of the General and Specific Objectives of this Agreement by enhancing the coordination, integration, synthesis, and assessment of science activities. Science, including monitoring, surveillance, observation, research, and modeling, may be supplemented by other bodies of knowledge, such as traditional ecological knowledge.”

Key Commitments

Canada and the United States agree to foster coordination and collaboration of scientific efforts by:

  • Undertaking the necessary monitoring and surveillance to anticipate science needs and to address emerging environmental concerns;
  • Ensuring that science and information are available to support Great Lakes programs and activities in the basin and to inform the public, who also have a role to play in meeting GLWQA objectives;
  • Reviewing the science supporting the agreement’s objectives to inform management actions and policy development;
  • Identifying science priorities and using best efforts to ensure that science funding agencies orient their research programs in response to research priorities;
  • Fostering coordination and collaboration of scientific efforts in support of the GLWQA;
  • Utilizing comprehensive, science-based ecosystem indicators to assess the state of the Great Lakes, to anticipate emerging threats and to measure progress;
  • Implementing a cooperative science and monitoring initiative to help coordinate science programs on the Great Lakes; and
  • Publicly describing basin-wide environmental trends and lake-specific conditions through a State of the Great Lakes Report.

For additional information on the focus of actions under this Annex, consult the current Priorities for Science and Action. The Priorities are based on an evaluation of the State of the Great Lakes, with input from the Great Lakes Executive Committee, participants at the Great Lakes Public Forum, and recommendations of the International Joint Commission.

Every six months, progress on this annex is reported at the Great Lakes Executive Committee meetings. Accomplishments will be described in the Progress Report of the Parties every three years, with the first expected in 2016.


This annex is being implemented by a subcommittee co-led by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Member organizations include:

  • Agriculture and Agrifood Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • National Park Service
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

An extended subcommittee involves additional organizations and experts beyond the GLEC membership.

As required, time-limited task teams can also be created to focus efforts on a priority issue or project, and will be disbanded when work is complete. Currently, the Science Annex subcommittee has task teams that focus on:

Task TeamPurpose
Cooperative Science and MonitoringProvide guidance and facilitate science and monitoring activities binationally to assist the Annexes in meeting the commitments of their Workplans. Coordinate a 5-year rotational cycle of intensive research and monitoring focusing on each lake in rotation.
Ecosystem Indicators and ReportingProvide guidance on the selection of indicators to use for reporting on the state of the Great Lakes and to facilitate indicator review, revision and/or development as well as support indicator reporting where possible.
Traditional Ecological KnowledgeProvide an opportunity for both Indigenous and Western knowledge to contribute to science in support of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. While the Task Team will report under Annex 10, there is an expectation that the blend of Indigenous and Western knowledge will be of significant value to many of the other Annexes as well.