The Great Lakes are next on the list for the National Coastal Mapping Program (NCMP) The Joint Airborne Lidar Bathymetry Technical Center of Expertise (JALBTCX) began surveying Lake Michigan in May. Lakes Superior, Erie, and Huron will be added throughout the summer and September.
Over the summer, record-breaking high water levels are predicted for the Great Lakes, particularly in Lake Superior, Lake Ontario, Lake St. Clair, and Lake Erie. Flooding and heavy erosion is expected in some areas, but where? And by how much?
A NOAA tool, the Lake Level Viewer, helps officials pinpoint areas of concern. A web map is used for this task, but the tool also shows potential flooding projected on pictures of local landmarks, such as the Marquette Lighthouse and Lake Erie’s Clifton Beach. This second option is particularly helpful when communicating risk and the need to take preventive actions to constituents.
“Officials use this tool to help them figure out where the community is most vulnerable, helpful information to have for taking proactive measures,” says Heather Stirratt, who manages the Great Lakes office for NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management.
The Lake Level Viewer covers more than 6,858 square miles, including all of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario. It is a screening-level tool and should not be used for detailed decision-making. All the data in the viewer, including elevation data, are downloadable for further analysis.