Recent record-high water levels across the Laurentian Great Lakes have shoreline communities scrambling to protect beaches, property, and infrastructure from rapid and widespread erosion. This current situation, and the uncertainty associated with lake levels in the future, underscores the need for comprehensive shoreline management strategies that will create resilient shorelines capable of buffering future conditions. However, shoreline protection strategies must be carefully implemented, ideally in a coordinated manner, since “hard” protection measures such as sea walls and revetments generally have large impacts on neighboring shorelines. Additionally, shoreline management does not merely involve applications of engineering principles to solve the problem; shorelines are highly social systems that require careful consideration of social and community perspectives.
This collaborative project, jointly funded by the Illinois-Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin Sea Grants tackles key physical, social, and community challenges associated with Lake Michigan shorelines. At Purdue we are particularly focused on the Illinois and Indiana shorelines, seeking to not only understand the physical mechanisms associated with the current shoreline state and erosion, but also to place the current state in historical perspective. Our work involves shoreline surveys (terrestrial and bathymetric), nearshore hydrodynamic and sediment measurements, and analysis of historical aerial imagery. Additional work by Dr. Aaron Thompson at Purdue is examining the attitudes and perceptions of Indiana and Illinois shoreline communities, particularly with respect to shoreline protection alternatives.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Michigan Sea Grant, Wisconsin Sea Grant
Chin Wu, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Guy Meadows and Pengfei Xue, Michigan Tech; Mark Brederland, Michigan State University; Aaron Thompson, Purdue University; and others.