The Great Lakes region includes almost 10,000 miles of shoreline (more than the U.S. East Coast), and 20% of the world’s surface freshwater. There are 85 million residents (a quarter of the U.S. population), and 13 million students in grades K-12. The Lakes support the region’s economy through manufacturing, shipping, tourism, and other businesses, and provide recreational opportunities for millions of visitors each year.
However, many of these residents and visitors only have a rudimentary understanding of the Great Lakes ecosystem, and about the effects that a changing climate could have on the region. Climate models predict reduced overall precipitation and lowered lake levels, along with an increase in extreme precipitation events and more summer heat waves, all of which would affect the Great Lakes economy and quality of life. Educators – both classroom and place-based – need to be aware of these predicted impacts, and be able to communicate them effectively to their audiences.
Needs for specific education materials are addressed in Great Lakes Climate Needs – A Guide for Implementation and in 2013 Teacher Needs Survey (both available from Ohio Sea Grant). This document focuses on expanding materials to larger audiences, and on improving distribution channels.