Community-based Research to Understand Lake Superior Coastal Storms Risk and Vulnerability at Au Train, MI

Project Lead: Michigan Technological University – Guy Meadows
Partner: Alger Conservation District
Geographic scope: Au Train, MI

Between two rocky headlands at the mouth of the Au Train River along the south central Lake Superior coastline, lies a picturesque sand pocket beach adjacent to a major state highway, making this an attractive yet challenging coastal setting. Wave action, erosion and the formation of sand bars and ice dams, due to storms over Lake Superior, regularly threaten to undercut the highway. Stakeholders want to prevent an emergency situation where stabilization of the road would require a large installation of riprap, degrading the scenic beach, which is a locally valuable economic resource. This project will contribute to a cooperative, proactive plan for shoreline protection and hazard mitigation while preserving the natural system. A major focus of this effort will be the completion of a high-precision nearshore hydrographic survey, which will be used as input to the Delft3D nearshore hydrodynamic model capable of modeling 3D flows, sediment transport, waves, water quality, morphology, and ecology. The resulting model will provide a detailed picture of the coastal dynamics and associated risks to infrastructure. Risk and vulnerability assessments will also aid community planning decisions for potential mitigation and adaptation strategies to address erosion and flooding in the area.