Climate Impacts on Freshwater Resources and Ecosystems

Science Theme 3:  Climate Impacts on Freshwater Resources and Ecosystems

The impacts of climate change on freshwater resources (both surface and groundwater) will be one of the most important and far reaching impacts felt by individuals, ecosystems, and institutions. The NE CASC region contains more than 84% of North America's surface freshwater, supporting a variety of resources such as agricultural lands, coastal marshes, mineral deposits, forests, fens, wetlands, dunes, and other ecosystems unique to the region. Considering that the Great Lakes supply drinking water to more than 26 million people, and have billions of dollars in economic impact, climate change impacts on the Great Lakes and other freshwater resources will reverberate throughout the region.

Effects such as changes in snowpack depth and extent, seasonal shifts in the timing and volume of runoff, transitions in the peak and base stream flows, and changes in stream and river temperatures are extremely important throughout watersheds and ecosystems. Additionally, timing and volume shifts will significantly impact species that rely on hydrologic regimes for important transitions in their life cycle.


Vulnerablitiy and Risks

  • Increase the risk of disease outbreaks in aquatic systems
  • Impact eutrophication
  • Creation of hypoxic and dead zones
  • Altered ecosystem structure and function

Explore our Expertise 

Peter McIntyre University of Wisconsin Madison


Aquatic Connectivity, Fish Migrations                                                                                                                                Temperature and Flow Regimes 

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Keith Nislow University of Massachusetts Amherst


Hydrology, aquatic habitats,                                                                                                                                                 ecological drought

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Science Researchers

Kenneth Potter University of Wisconsin Madison


  Affiliated Investigator


 Kristen L Bouska USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center


  Affiliated Investigator


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