There are potential links between climate change in the Great Lakes and the deterioration of shipwrecks, but the topic remains under researched, and questions remain. For example, should climate change result in significantly decreased ice coverage on the Great Lakes, this would enhance evaporation and lead to a water level decline. As water levels drop, shallow water shipwrecks may become more exposed to air, waves and ice, thus accelerating natural decomposition. Nearshore shipwrecks in sandy lakebed environments may suffer increased deterioration as increasingly mobile sediment (due to a more dynamic environment created by lower water levels) variously exposes and buries sites. Moreover, the sudden occurrence of a shallow-water shipwreck exposed by shifting sediment makes for an exciting discovery, but one that is also potentially very accessible, and can lead to both intentional and unintentional human impacts. The effects of climate change on a delicately balanced and already stressed ecosystem could also have negative impacts by reducing water quality and, consequently, public accessibility to sanctuary resources. Climate change has also been identified as one of the most critical threats to Lake Huron’s biodiversity.
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor center hosts a NOAA Science on a Sphere theater that provides earth systems information to thousands of yearly visitors, including climate change information. Two staff members are NNOCCI study circle alumni. Visitor center interpretation and programming utilize NNOCCI best practices whenever possible. The visitor center also highlights its sustainable, LEED Gold certification (geothermal hvac, etc.) and invites visitors to engage in community-level solutions.