chapter  8
24 Pages

The Great Lakes as a Test Model for Profile Responses to Sea Level Changes

ByEdward B. Hands

The Laurentian Great Lakes system, composed of five large lakes and their interconnecting waterways, constitutes the largest single mass of fresh water on the surface of the earth. Regional variations and climatic factors cause long-term water level fluctuations on the Great Lakes that are uncharacteristic of ocean sites. In many ways the Great Lakes offer a more manageable and hospitable environment than do the oceans for the study of certain shore erosion processes. The low concentration of dissolved salt in the Lakes makes for a less corrosive environment in which to deploy instruments, while having little effect on the erosion of sandy shores. The chapter presents an idealized concept for predicting profile adjustment to new water levels simply as a function of the magnitude of the water level change and two measurements of nearshore profile geometry. In spite of widespread evidence of a sea level rise, the sediment balance approach has not been widely applied for predictive purposes.