Climate Change Impacts (Annex 9)

A wooden dock overlooks a sandy lake, where water levels have depleted and water no longer lies under the dock – instead only beige sand. In the distance, a pool of shallow water resides in the lake, with trees in the distance. Credit:

Through the Climate Change Impacts 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 coordinating efforts to identify, quantify, understand, and predict the climate change impacts on the quality of the Waters of the Great Lakes, and sharing information that Great Lakes resource managers need to proactively address these impacts.”

Key Commitments

Canada and the United States agree to:

  • develop and improve regional-scale climate models and link them to Great Lakes chemical, physical and biological models, in order to better understand and predict the impacts of climate change on Great Lakes water quality;
  • enhance monitoring of relevant climate and Great Lakes variables to validate model predictions and understand current climate changes and their impacts;
  • develop and improve analytical tools to understand and predict the impacts, risks and vulnerabilities associated with climate change; and
  • coordinate binational climate change science activities (including monitoring, modeling and analysis) to quantify, understand and share information that Great Lakes resource managers need to proactively address climate change impacts.

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 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Member organizations include:

  • Conservation Ontario
  • Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin
  • Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • U.S. National Park Service

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