The University Record, December 11, 2000

Changing climate means more soybeans, fewer pines, lower lakes

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

Researchers from the Great Lakes Regional Assessment Team at the U-M have released a summary report for the Great Lakes region—“Preparing for a Changing Climate: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change.”

The report is based on information from state-of-the-art climate models and follows closely the release of the first U.S. National Assessment report. The Great Lakes report is a regional component of the National Assessment process that was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and organized by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

The team estimates that by 2090 Great Lakes water levels will be 1–3 feet lower; algae production, the primary food source for fish in the Great Lakes, will likely be 10 to 20 percent less; pine trees may be all but eliminated from the region; dangerously high ozone days may occur twice as frequently; and soybean yields may nearly double.

The report focuses on results for the years 2030 and 2090. These two times occur approximately 30 years before and after the time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is expected to have doubled from its current value.

The team’s findings and recommendations are the work of more than 40 faculty members, research associates, graduate and undergraduate students, and external collaborators from the region. They used recent output from General Circulation Models (GCMs) that accounted for aerosols and for steady increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide.

For a copy of the report or for more information on the Great Lakes Regional Assessment, visit the Web at or contact Peter J. Sousounis, (734) 936-0488 or