The picturesque landscapes of Northeast Ohio have long been shaped by the ebb and flow of the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie. However, in recent years, a unique and concerning phenomenon has been observed – the absence of a frozen Lake Erie during winter. Traditionally, the winter freeze played a crucial role in stabilizing the shoreline, but with warmer temperatures becoming more frequent, the lack of ice cover has unleashed a series of challenges, particularly concerning shoreline erosion.
The Freeze That Once Was:
Historically, the winter freeze of Lake Erie provided a natural buffer against shoreline erosion. As temperatures dropped, the lake's surface would transform into a vast expanse of ice, creating a protective barrier along the shores. This icy shield absorbed the energy of waves and prevented them from directly impacting the coastline. However, with climate change ushering in warmer winters, this dependable freeze has become increasingly elusive.
The Impact on Shoreline Erosion:
The consequences of an unfrozen Lake Erie are evident along the Northeast Ohio shoreline. Without the protective layer of ice, waves generated by winter storms gain greater momentum, hitting the shores with increased intensity. This heightened wave action accelerates erosion, gradually wearing away the coastline.
Furthermore, the lack of ice cover exposes the shoreline to increased risk from storm surges, as the waves have a direct pathway to erode the land. This has led to the loss of valuable land, threatening homes, infrastructure, and natural habitats along the lakefront.
Effects on Local Communities:
The ramifications of shoreline erosion extend beyond the environmental sphere, impacting local communities that have long depended on Lake Erie for their livelihoods and recreational activities. Coastal properties face the risk of damage, and erosion jeopardizes the stability of waterfront infrastructure. Additionally, the loss of natural barriers increases the likelihood of flooding, posing a threat to both residents and businesses in the region.
What’s the Solution?
This is where we come in. Check out our next blog post to read how we use Revetments as a defense against Lake Erie's rough winter waves.