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Coastal change-potential assessment of Sleeping Bear Dunes, Indiana Dunes, and Apostle Islands National Lakeshores to lake-level changes

March 30, 2021

A change-potential index (CPI) was used to map the susceptibility of the shoreline to future lake-level change within Apostle Islands, Indiana Dunes, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshores (NL) along Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The CPI in the Great Lakes setting ranks the following in terms of their physical contribution to lake-level related coastal change: geomorphology, regional coastal slope, rate and direction (i.e., rise and fall) of relative lake-level change, historical shoreline change rates, annual ice cover and mean significant wave height. The rankings for each input variable were combined, and an index value calculated for 1-minute bins covering the parks. The CPI highlights those regions where the physical effects of lake-level and coastal change might be the greatest. This approach combines the coastal system's potential for change with its natural ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions, yielding a quantitative, although relative, measure of the park's natural susceptibility to the effects of lake-level variation. The CPI provides an objective technique for evaluation and long-term planning by scientists and park managers. The CPI is applied to the National Lakeshores of Apostle Islands, Indiana Dunes, and Sleeping Bear Dunes to test this methodology in lake settings. The National Lakeshores in this study consist of sand and gravel beaches, rock outcrops, and dune and glacial bluffs. The areas within these Great Lakes parks that are likely to experience the most lake-levelrelated coastal change are areas of unconsolidated sediment where regional coastal slope is low and wave energy is high.