TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) – With Great Lakes levels finally back to normal after a 15-year downturn, the University of Michigan plans research to help people in the region prepare for future ups and downs.
The university’s Graham Sustainability Institute announced the program this week, as federal scientists reported that Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie are well above their long-term average levels. Lake Ontario is slightly below.
About two years ago, Lakes Michigan and Huron were at their lowest point since record keeping began in 1918. The other lakes were also down.
Drew Gronewold of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor says only once before have levels bounced back this quickly.
Some experts say climate change may bring about extreme weather that can cause more wild swings in water levels.
John Callewaert of the Graham Institute says the two-year study is designed to help shoreline property owners, tourism-related businesses, city planners and others in the region deal with dramatic and rapid changes.
The institute will award $50,000 grants to four or five teams to develop plans meant to protect the environment, economy and cultural values of affected regions as they adapt.
“While there has been extensive research about water levels, flows and impacts … this assessment is geared toward transforming findings into practical, localized strategies,” said Jennifer Read, director of the institute’s Water Center.
The study is scheduled to run from November 2015 to April 2017.