Great Lakes officials address climate change

MARQUETTE – The University of Michigan and an independent research group have developed an interactive map designed to help local officials in the Great Lakes region deal with climate change.

Headwaters Economics teamed with the university’s Graham Sustainability Institute on the project, which was announced Tuesday.

The map provides social, economic and demographic statistics on 225 counties in the eight-state region. It includes data about municipal spending, land use and climate-change characteristics such as temperature patterns.

Information tables cover topics such as employment trends in three climate-vulnerable sectors – farming, timber and tourism. There’s also data on local population groups that might be susceptible to extreme heat, including the elderly and people below the poverty line.

The online tool is available free of charge.

Marquette County’s job dependence on climate is listed as being moderately dependent. Alger County is listed as being most dependent.

The entire Upper Peninsula – except for Dickinson County – and all of northern Wisconsin falls into one of those two categories.

The map shows a relatively continual increase in the number of jobs in Marquette County in the tourism industry – an area heavily dependent on weather and climate – since 2006.

The study also examined how climate-related factors have changed over time.

In Marquette County, according to the study, there are several changes in 30-year averages taken from 1951 to 1980 and from 1981 to 2010. The average summer temperature has increased by 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Water temperatures also increased two full degrees Fahrenheit. Spring precipitation totals have dropped by 5.6 percent, and the summer drought index has dropped by 1.2.

In Alger County, the study shows an increase in average summer temperature and average water temperature as 0.9 degree Fahrenheit and 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit respectively.

Alger County’s spring precipitation total has dropped 11.2 percent and its summer drought index dropped by 1.3.

To view the map, which shows statistics for every county in Michigan, along with several neighboring states, see

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.