Municipalities along the Lake Erie shoreline currently rely on periodic physical monitoring of control-point sites in the field to determine the position of the coastal bluff crest and any changes in crest position over time due to erosion. While a valuable resource, and an excellent ground-check on more recent digital methods of mapping coastal change, the control-point methodology is becoming antiquated.
Currently, Pennsylvania Sea Grant and Penn State Behrend are assessing bluff recession rates along the Lake Erie bluff using state-of-the-art remotely sensed data (LiDAR; orthoimagery) and ground-truthing within a GIS framework. These methodologies have been adopted nationally to quantify the occurrence and severity of coastal erosion and upland loss, and will provide the scientific basis for better recommendations related to sustainable coastal development for Pennsylvania municipalities and individual properties along Lake Erie. In addition, we are developing a web-based Bluff Erosion Potential Index that will identify the factors most likely contributing to the bluff erosion for the Pennsylvania Lake Erie shoreline.