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An Assessment of Lake-Level Fluctuations on Beach and Shoreline Changes

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Using data collected from May 1978 to November 1996, this article assesses the effects of fluctuating water levels on the beach and shoreline at the Northeast Beach, Point Pelee, Lake Erie, Canada. To compare the serial dynamics of lake levels with net shoreline positional changes and beach net sediment flux, the data are transformed to standard scores to deal with the differences in the units and in the scale associated with each variable. The results demonstrate that over the 18-year period, fluctuating lake levels are associated with shifts in shoreline position and the development of various aggradational and degradational states at the beach. A sustained rapid rise in lake levels will initiate an erosional sequence which will persist even with declining water levels. With a persistent decline in water levels the beach and shoreline will adjust very gradually from unstable, erosional states to an aggradational state. Other results emphasize that those beach sectors directly governed by artificial structures suffered disproportionately higher erosion during high-water levels. Coastal managers must, therefore, be cognizant of the fact that shore protection devices must be carefully designed in order to be effective against the influence of fluctuating lake levels.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-04-01

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