Along the eastern coast of Lake Erie in Ohio, where waves can wash away as much as six feet of land each year, living close to the shoreline can put your home in danger of washing away in 10 to 30 years, according to a new computer model created by Ohio Sea Grant researcher Dr. Ron Li, Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science at Ohio State University. The tool can help communities like Painesville, which experiences significant erosion, to determine which areas along their coast may be in particular danger. State, county, and local agencies can also use the model to monitor the problem and continue to regulate the construction of certain structures within those 30-year erosion zones.
"State agencies can use the information for planning to assess if current land-use policies are working," Li says. "It’s a way for them to protect the land, the people, and their investments."
By combining two-dimensional QuickBird satellite data with three-dimensional LIDAR laser data, as well as information about water levels, water movement, and the topography of the lake floor, Li’s team was able to make their Erosion Awareness System accurate to within one centimeter. They then created maps with color-coded lines designating where erosion is likely to leave the shoreline 10, 20, and 30 years.
One common type of erosion occurs when wave action sweeps away soil at the base of a cliff, which then causes the soil closer to the bluff top to fall into the lake. Therefore, erosion rates are partially dependent on water crashing into the bluff and can increase depending on the number of storms that crop up and even the water level of Lake Erie.
To read more about this Ohio Sea Grant-funded research, visit http://ohioseagrant.osu.edu/_documents/twineline/v32i1.pdf .