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Climate Change And Chicago's Lake Michigan Shoreline: What The Future May Hold And The Action Being Taken

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Late night hosts – including Stephen Colbert and James Corden on CBS – teamed up for Climate Night Wednesday to talk about climate change, a crisis of which we have seen the impacts in Chicago over the years.

Lake levels have been at record highs. Just Wednesday, waves pushed onshore and pounded at the Lake Michigan coastline – certainly not helping our erosion problems.

CBS 2's Marie Saavedra on Wednesday night explored some solutions - and ways we're already fighting climate change on the shores of Lake Michigan.

For Mark Wagstaff, waterfront engineer with SmithGroup, an angry Lake Michigan is fun to watch. It puts some of the designs he has done for the Chicago Park District to the test.

We met him to talk about our changing climate, and what that means for the lakefront we know and love.

Saavedra: "When people talk about climate change related to the lake; related to your planning, what does that look like?"

Wagstaff: "Climate Change wants to make for warmer air, which means more precipitation. But at the same time, because we don't have as much ice cover every winter, we can have more evaporation with that warmer atmosphere. That wants to sort of send lake levels down. So the people who study this - what they're saying is we should expect more variability in the future."

Saavedra: "In the future, as it comes to design, what could that mean?"

Wagstaff: "For people who use the Lakefront Trail regularly, I think they have begun to see some of these changes already in the last few years. These large, semi-permanent or temporary sandbags. Those are there to provide temporary protection for the waves. You know, one thing that people may see is greater use of native vegetation. Those kinds of plants are more resilient to extremes."

They are small efforts to protect the lakefront from the high highs and low lows, brought on by our changing climate.

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