Development of Dynamically-Based 21st Century Projections of Snow, Lake Ice, and Winter Severity for the Great Lakes Basin to Guide Wildlife-Based Adaptation Planning, with Emphasis on Deer and Waterfowl

Project Type: 
Stakeholder-Identified Research Project
Fiscal Year: 
FY'14
Project Leader: 
Research Partners: 
Christopher Hoving (Michigan Department of Natural Resources); Michael Schummer (State University of New York at Oswego); John Coluccy (Ducks Unlimited Inc, Great Lakes Atlantic Regional Office); Karl Martin (CNRED State Program Director and Assistant Dean Cooperative Extension University of Wisconsin-Extension)
Status: 
Ongoing
Science Themes: 

Our project focuses on anticipated effects of 21st century climate change on winter severity, snowpack, and lake ice across the Great Lakes Basin and the response of wildlife populations, namely white-tailed deer and dabbling ducks. Winter conditions have changed substantially since the mid-20th century, with rising temperatures, declining lake ice cover, and increased lake-effect snowfall. Nonetheless, due coarse resolution, poor lake representation, and insufficient treatment of lake-effect processes in global climate models, basinwide climate change projections remain uncertain. Changing winter conditions may greatly alter wildlife behavior and survival rates. The primary wintertime stressors for deer are air chill and snow depth, with extreme winters triggering population declines. Snow/ice cover limit foraging by waterfowl, thereby regulating the timing/intensity of migration and their distributions during non-breeding season. Changes in wildlife abundance and distribution can incur dramatic ecological, societal, and economic impacts. Warming may support expanded deer populations and overgrazing, while elevating infectious disease threats to deer. Annually in the U.S., 13.4 million people participate in deer and migratory bird hunting, generating $21.5 billion in revenue, with the hunting industry supporting 681,000 jobs. Our projections of climate change impacts on the behavior and distribution of deer and ducks will guide conservation planning.

Publications: 
Presentations: 
  • Webinar: A Weather Severity Index for estimating influences of climatic variability on waterfowl populations, waterfowl habitat, and hunter opportunity and demographics.  March 12, 2015.
  • Schummer, Weather severity indices for estimating influences of climate on autumn-winter distributions of waterfowl and hunter opportunity and satisfaction, July 2015, Atlantic Flyway Tech Section, Albany, NY.

  • Notaro, Dynamically downscaled projections of lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes Basin, May 2015, American Geophysical Union Joint Assembly, Montreal, Canada.

  • "Notaro, Potential impacts of changing winter conditions during the 21st century on the migratory behavior of dabbling ducks in eastern North America, January 2016, Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

  • Vanden Elsen, Factors influencing autumn-winter distributions of dabbling ducks in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, February 2016, Seventh North American Duck Symposium, Annapolis, Maryland."

  • Schummer, Weather severity indices for estimating influences of climate on autumn-winter distributions of waterfowl and hunter opportunity and satisfaction, February 2016, Seventh North American Duck Symposium, Annapolis, Maryland.

  • Notaro, Climate change in Wisconsin: Historical trends, projections, impacts, and adaptation, June 2016, Forest County Potawatomi Community (FPCP) Climate Change Adaptation Workshop, Crandon, Wisconsin

  • Notaro, Projected changes in winter severity for the 21st century and implications for the migratory behavior of dabbling ducks in eastern North America, July 2016, North American Congress for Conservation Biology, Madison, Wisconsin.

Other: