Category: Climate Ready Communities

An Integrated Physical-Social-Community (PSC) Approach for Sustainable Shore Protection, Beach Integrity, and Bluff/Dune Stabilization Along Lake Michigan

The overall goals of this project are to:

  • Better understand coastal processes in terms of nearshore hydrodynamics, sediment transport, and coastal morphology under changing climate forcing in Lake Michigan
  • Help effectively communicate to stakeholders, with the purpose of promoting sustainable shore protection, increasing the integrity of beaches; and stabilizing bluffs/dunes in Lake Michigan


Benthic Community Response to the Addition of a Nearshore Submerged Shoreline Stabilization Structure and the Subsequent Sediment Accumulation in Southern Lake Michigan

Quantifying the introductory impacts of an artificial reef on the nearshore community in Lake Michigan have not been made a priority in any experimental design. This project aims to mend this lack of understanding by combining biology and geology to create a new understanding of the effects of a newly constructed artificial reef (Rubble Ridges). This will be accomplished by observing the effects of sediment accumulation around a newly constructed artificial reef on benthic community diversity and growth. Sampling at the reef site will include sampling for invertebrates, encrusting organisms, and fish once a month during the sampling season. We will compare the trends from the Rubble Ridges site to the trends from the control site.

The objectives for this study are (1) to determine the difference in abundance and diversity of benthic organisms between the submerged shoreline stabilization structure site and the control site over a 2-year period, (2) to determine if the development of nearshore artificial reefs positively impact benthic communities in Southern Lake Michigan, and (3) to determine if benthic community diversity and abundance changes due to sediment accumulation and changes in sand grain size. We hypothesize that there will be an increase in abundance and diversity in benthic communities at the submerged shoreline stabilization structure site in comparison to the control site, that these artificial reefs will have a positive impact on the benthic communities in Southern Lake Michigan, and that sediment accumulation and larger sand grain size provide suitable habitat areas that will increase the diversity and abundance of the surrounding benthic community. Project managers and scientists can utilize this information in upcoming projects, whose intent is to prevent shoreline erosion, as a means to further understand this relationship.

Community Evacuation Preparedness and Planning with Alternative Fuel Vehicles Responsive to Flooding in Southern Lake Michigan

The objective of this research is to develop and implement a new modeling framework, integrating flooding intensity data of the Southern Lake Michigan transportation network with alternative fuel vehicle routing models, for the evacuation of vulnerable communities during hazardous flooding events in a changing climate. We propose a novel evacuation routes planning framework for multiple types of vehicle fuels that have dependencies on refueling and charging infrastructure (e.g., gasoline, battery electric, and fuel cell electric vehicles). The model determines the optimal evacuation routes for each alternative vehicle fuel type that minimizes the total travel and refueling time of travelers during simulated hazardous flooding events in the Southern Lake Michigan transportation network. The designed evacuation route resources will enable decision-makers to have access to data and tools so as to plan for a diverse set of travelers with alternative fuel vehicles to evacuate and adapt during these extreme flooding events, minimizing their degree of vulnerability and sustaining resilient communities.

Data-Driven Modeling for Hazard-Resilient Infrastructure in Southern Lake Michigan Communities

During the given one-year research period, I plan to develop a data-driven model integrating the physical model of infrastructure vulnerable to hazard and artificial intelligence machine learning algorithms to offer precautions and suggestions to resist natural hazards and enhance infrastructure flood resilience for the southern Lake Michigan communities. The proposed research targets to provide coastal communities with on-time and accessible suggestions to resist flooding attacks, support coastal industrial development without interference, give organizations reasonable, efficient recommendations to minimize the flooding impact on infrastructure, and offer the government customized design advice for infrastructure in the southern Lake Michigan region. Most importantly, this research will call public attention to the resilience of coastal communities and infrastructure.

Improving Infrastructure Flood Resilience of the Southern Lake Michigan Region with Fluid-Structure Interaction Model

This project proposes a computational framework to efficiently simulate the flood-infrastructure interaction mechanism, assess the impact and risk of flood on the infrastructure in the southern Lake Michigan region and provide recommendations on the selection of rational infrastructure types suitable for the flooding area. The goal of the proposed research is to mitigate potential losses, improve the current post disaster reconstruction strategy and therefore enhance the flood resilience of the infrastructure and coastal communities in the Great Lake region. Key outcomes include an extensive literature review on the flood hazard data and infrastructure damage data in the southern Lake Michigan region, and a computational framework that integrates the fluid-structure interaction model and flood risk assessment model.

Mapping the Geology of Chicago’s Nearshore Region to Address Urban Beach Response to Climate and Lake-level Change

High lake levels have reduced beach sizes across Chicago, but we have little understanding of how much was passive inundation versus sediment remobilization. Ongoing collaborative efforts with the Chicago Park District and the Illinois Coastal Management Program are focused on observations of process-landform dynamics using camera arrays at select beaches and integrating UAS-based imagery, topographic information, wave data, and camera footage. However, while efforts are underway to understand the subaerial dynamics here (e.g., shoreline behaviors), little is known about littoral dynamics and sand transport across the highly fragmented urban nearshore environment, where prior studies have inferred a complex lakefloor geology that includes outcropping Silurian bedrock reefs, heavily scoured and dissected glacial clay tills, and thin, discontinuous sand veneers. We wish to capture the geologic configuration of the nearshore at the surface and map the shallow subsurface architecture as a means of quantifying sand volumes and relating them to the broader geologic template and the urban infrastructure with its influence on nearshore hydrodynamics.

Measuring Local Government Response to Great Lakes Climate Risks

While there is an emerging consensus on the climate risks faced by different areas of the country, there is a profound lack of information on how local governments are responding to these risks. This proposal begins to fill the information gap by funding a faculty-student team to assist local officials in Indiana counties bordering Lake Michigan to complete the Hoosier Resilience Index Readiness Assessment (HRA). This instrument, developed by research staff at Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute (ERI), offers unique insight into the local response to climate risks, facilitating analysis of the political, social, and economic factors that shape policy decisions. 

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