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Great Lakes Research Center


Sediment suspension and transport driven by waves and currents play a significant role in both the ecological and physical environments of large lakes. Lake Michigan has faced a rapidly increasing water level associated with intensified wind waves in the past decade. To investigate the spatiotemporal characteristics of suspended sediment concentration (SSC) and associated coastal sediment budgets in southern Lake Michigan, a 30-year (1991–2020) hindcast was performed using a coupled wave-current-sediment model (SWAN-FVCOM-CSTMS). We found that in southern Lake Michigan, the basin-wide mean SSC increased, and the coastal sediment loss accelerated dramatically, corresponding with intensified waves, currents and lake water level rises over the past decade. The basin-wide mean SSC, coastal sediment loss, wave height, wind speed, current speed, and water level in southern Lake Michigan are highly correlated. Spatially, the results reveal decreases in coastal SSC and sediment loss in the western portion of the southern basin, while the eastern sectors show an increase in both metrics. This reflects a clear shift in the wave climate and hydrodynamic environment. The alterations in long-term coastal sediment budgets imply that considerable shoreline transformations are being influenced by modifications in the wave climate. Understanding the spatiotemporal characteristics of SSC and coastal sediment budgets is crucial for strategic water resource management and coastal infrastructure planning.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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