Historically high flood levels were observed during flooding in Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River from late April through May 2011. Flooding was caused by record spring precipitation and snowmelt from the third highest cumulative snowfall year on record, which included a warm, saturated late spring snowpack. Flood stage was exceeded for a total of 67 days from April 13 to June 19, 2011. During this flooding, shoreline erosion and lake flood inundation were exacerbated by wind-driven waves associated with local fetch and lake-wide seiche effects. In May 2011, a new water-surface-elevation record was set for Lake Champlain. Peak lake-level water-surface elevations varied at the three U.S. Geological Survey lake-level gages on Lake Champlain in 2011. The May 2011 peak water-surface elevations for Lake Champlain ranged from 103.20 feet above the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 at the northern end of Lake Champlain (at its outlet into the Richelieu River at Rouses Point, New York) to 103.57 feet above the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 at the southern end of the Lake in Whitehall, New York. The water-surface elevations for the Richelieu River in Canada are referenced to a different vertical datum than are those in Lake Champlain in the United States, which causes difficulty in assessing real-time flood water-surface elevations and comparing of flood peaks in the Lake Champlain Basin in the United States and Canada.
On March 19, 2012, as a result of the flood event of April and May 2011, the Governments of Canada and the United States asked the International Joint Commission to draft a plan of study to examine the causes and the effects of the spring 2011 flooding on Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River and develop potential mitigation measures. Specific challenges noted by the International Lake Champlain-Richelieu River Technical Working Group (established by the International Joint Commission) included harmonization of vertical datums within the drainage basin. Harmonization of the vertical datum discrepancy is needed for flood assessment and future efforts to model the flow of water through the Lake Champlain Basin in the United States and Canada.
In April 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey and Environment Canada began a joint field effort with the goal of obtaining precise elevations representing a common vertical datum for select reference marks used to determine water-surface elevations throughout Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River. To harmonize the datum difference between the United States and Canada, Global Navigation Satellite System surveys were completed at nine locations in the Lake Champlain Basin to collect simultaneous satellite data. These satellite data were processed to produce elevations for two reference marks associated with dams and seven reference marks associated with active water-level gages (lake gages in Lake Champlain and streamgages in the Richelieu River) to harmonize vertical datums throughout the Lake Champlain Basin. The Global Navigation Satellite System surveys were completed from April 14 to 16, 2015, at locations ranging from southern Lake Champlain near Whitehall, New York, to the northern end of the Richelieu River in Sorel, Quebec, at its confluence with the St. Lawrence River in Canada.
Lake-gage water-surface elevations determined during the 3 days of surveys were converted to water-surface elevations referenced to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 by using calculated offsets and historical water-surface elevations. In this report, an “offset” refers to the adjustment that needs to be applied to published data from a particular gage to produce elevation data referenced to the North American Vertical Datum of 1988. Offsets presented in this report can be used in the evaluation of water-surface elevations in a common datum for Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River. In addition, the water-level data referenced to the common datum (as determined from the offsets) may be used to calibrate flow models and support future modeling studies developed for Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River.
|Title||Network global navigation satellite system surveys to harmonize American and Canadian datum for the Lake Champlain Basin|
|Authors||Robert H. Flynn, Paul H. Rydlund, Daniel J. Martin|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||NH/VT office of New England Water Science Center|
Paul H Rydlund, Jr.
Paul H Rydlund, Jr.