Sunday, January 19, 2020

Expect more Lake Michigan shoreline storm damage

The costly and 'catastrophic' damage from last week's gale which struck Lake Michigan's shoreline in Milwaukee and other counties
Downed trees and flooding north of Bradford Beach, Milwaukee (James Rowen photo)
Looking south along Bradford Beach, Milwaukee (James Rowen photo)
may be repeated, as high water levels, a lack of protective 'shelf ice' and a changing climate bode badly for the lake, property owners and the environment, experts report.
Lack of shelf ice a problem for Lake Michigan 
Open water means more shoreline erosion, lake-effect snow
Shelf ice is important because it protects the shoreline from the ravaging effects of winter storms and high water levels. The water level remains at a near-record high, and is not expected to fall as much as usual this winter, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers....
That will make the effects of storms, and the lack of shelf ice, even more problematic for lakeshore areas already being devastated by shoreline erosion. And no ice on the lake has another negative effect – increasing the frequency and severity of lake-effect snow – which could affect the area starting this weekend. 
Other news stories bring climate change into the discussion:
Climate Change Is Already Impacting Lake Michigan — Here's How
Volatility will be the new normal
"What we are seeing with climate change now in the Great Lakes region is more rocking and rolling in water levels — higher highs and lower lows and a much more rapid transition between the highs and lows," says Peter Annin, author of Great Lakes Water Wars . "And that's what's driving people crazy as they try to interface with the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan. 
And, get ready for erosion
At least one feature of a changing climate is already affecting the Lake Michigan shoreline, says coastal scientist Charles Shabica.
"The... warmer atmosphere means more intense storms, and more intense storms mean large waves, and large waves mean more damage to structures along the shore," he says...
"It is also erosion of the lake bed itself," he says. "So when the waves come in they're digging out the bottom of the lake and the net effect is the water is going to be deeper in that area, which means large waves making it to shore."

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