February 15, 2019

Prioritizing Climate Science Knowledge Gaps in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement


In 2015, the Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) published a report titled “State of Climate Change Science in the Great Lakes basin: A Focus on Climatological, Hydrological and Ecological Effects”, to support commitments under Annex 9 (Climate Change Impacts) of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA). This report synthesized available science of climate change and summarized 43 climate science knowledge gaps that could potentially be priorities for research within the Great Lakes Basin (GLB). Using these knowledge gaps as a foundation, the OCC conducted several Annex engagements in 2017 and 2018 to obtain more information, namely:

  • An online survey to obtain preliminary input on the validity and level of work related to the knowledge gaps (early 2017)
  • An interactive webinar to review all preliminary results and seek input on suggested priorities for moving forward (late 2017)
  • A series of telephone interviews with Annex co-leads and members to obtain targeted input and to refine climate science knowledge gaps in relation to the specific Annex (early 2018)



The aim of this report is to document all results and analyses of the Annex engagement sessions completed and to produce refined, vetted priorities for filling climate science knowledge gaps across the GLB.

Methodology and Outcomes:

Based on all engagements with Annexes, priorities were assigned as preliminary in 2017, and then further marked as “final” in early 2018 based on how important a particular knowledge gap was stated to be for a particular Annex and the level of work occurring to address the gap (low, medium, or high).

The 2017-2019 Great Lakes binational priorities for science and action were used as one component of analysis to identify:

  • Short-Term Priority Gaps: Fifteen of the total 43 knowledge gaps are directly relevant to Annexes currently and within the next two years (short-term priorities)
  • Long-Term Priority Gaps: The remaining 28 knowledge gaps are still assigned priorities along with potentially relevant Annexes whose objectives may align as future work plans are developed.




This work was made possible with funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).