Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) requires oversight, monitoring, assessment, and coordination to succeed.  Recognizing this necessity, the GLRI Action Plan incorporated these critical themes into Focus Area 5.  NOAA is contributing to this focus area by providing a coordinated network of scientific observations and models, climate change adaptation resources, and youth education programs.  Together, these initiatives provide tools and resources to sustain this tremendous investment in the Great Lakes.


Read on to learn more about NOAA’s Focus Area 5 projects:


NOAA’s Coastal Projects

GLRI funds have helped NOAA to become a leader in coastal research, outreach, and education in the Great Lakes.  Multiple initiatives support climate research, adaptation, and resiliency plans for the Great Lakes Region.  We believe that regional partnerships are vital to encouraging adaptation and planning through the Great Lakes Region, and over 30 diverse partners have been involved in NOAA’s Coastal Project initiatives to date.

NOAA contact:


Great Lakes Synthesis, Observations, and Response System

NOAA’s Great Lakes Synthesis, Observations, and Response System (SOAR) coordinates and integrates coastal ecosystem observations that support Great Lakes restoration projects, including AOC restoration.  GLRI funds have been integral to developing and honing the system, which uses scientific models and observations from on-water and remote sensing platforms to create database products for assessment and decision support.  SOAR is focused on Areas of Concern and restoration projects within the Great Lakes.  However, its value extends far beyond the region, since SOAR observations feed into a global observation network.

NOAA contacts: and


Great Lakes Bay Education and Training (B-WET) Program

Superior 6th graders set sail! A field trip to Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve through B-WET-supported Rivers2Lake program. Credit: Lake Superior NERR.

NOAA’s B-WET environmental education program promotes locally relevant, experiential learning for students in grades K-12.  Operated by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, the Great Lakes B-WET program offers competitive grants to support programs that encourage sustained hands-on education and stewardship.  GLRI funds helped to establish the B-WET program in the Great Lakes, and they continue to support and strengthen projects to foster the next generation’s engagement in Great Lakes issues.

NOAA contact:



Lake Ontario Benthic Macroinvetebrate Assessment

NOAA is part of a collaborative effort among government agencies and academic institutions to evaluate the composition and abundance of components in Lake Ontario’s benthic (bottom) zone.  The recently launched project has benefitted tremendously from GLRI support and will contribute data to measure the overall health of the lake ecosystem.  In particular, the technology will help scientists to identify whether native fish species and macroinvertebrates (animals without a backbone that can be viewed without a microscope) have recovered to target levels established in the GLRI Action Plan.

NOAA contact:


NOAA Support of the Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative

NOAA scientists are participating in a collaborative effort, funded in part by the GLRI, to improve scientists’ understanding of the structure and function of the ecosystem of Lake Huron (2012) and Lake Michigan (2015). The Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) specifically seeks to clarify the impacts of stressors such as invasive species, climate change, nutrient loading, and overfishing on the Great Lakes.  Moreover, it integrates long-term observations on the Lakes’ biological, chemical, and physical variables with laboratory experiments to develop new concepts and modeling tool to explore changes in the lake, including the pressing issue of nuisance and toxic algal blooms in nearshore areas.  The project will provide researchers and policymakers with a more holistic understanding of the Lake Huron and Lake Michigan ecosystem and enable them to improve management of the lake in the face of ecosystem stressors.

NOAA contact:



Supporting Great Lakes Clean Marina Certification Efforts

With funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Michigan Sea Grant will support the Great Lakes Clean Marina Network and regional Clean Marina Programs in promoting environmentally sound marina and boating practices through the implementation of best management practices addressing petroleum control and spill prevention, stormwater management and boat maintenance.

Contact: Amy Samples, Michigan Sea Grant College Program (

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