Pennsylvania Sea Grant Webinar Series:

PA Lake Erie bluff recession – a deep dive into the science and latest resources

Pennsylvania Sea Grant is launching a webinar series to highlight recent research and state-of-the-art science conducted along the Pennsylvania Lake Erie shoreline to aide in efforts to assess bluff erosion along the Pennsylvania Lake Erie coast. Bluff recession poses a threat to the Pennsylvania Lake Erie economy, environment, and safety of its residents. The 76.6-mile long Pennsylvania Lake Erie shoreline includes Presque Isle State Park, Erie Bluffs State Park, several public access points, and privately owned properties. Researchers from Pennsylvania Sea Grant and Penn State Behrend have assessed recession rates of the Lake Erie bluff using state-of-the-art remotely sensed data, including LiDAR and orthoimagery. The data and new information collected as a result of the effort will be integrated with existing Pennsylvania Lake Erie-related ecological and economic data, services, guidance, and information in order to assist decision-makers, planners and homeowners, and to better sustain Lake Erie’s natural shoreline.

UPDATE 

Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) are available for attendees of 3 out of 4 webinars. CEUs are being offered through Penn State Behrend for 4 hours (0.4 CEUs) for a fee of $35. If interested, participants must first contact Sean Rafferty, Ph.D., PA Sea Grant Research Director for details. 

Funding was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program.

WEBINAR SERIES - See below for more detailed information about each webinar

Session 1: Bluff Recession – An Overview of the Issue and Challenges - January 29, 2021, 1:00 - 2:00 PM EST - Presenter: Anthony Foyle, Ph.D., Department Chair of Environmental Science and Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Penn State Behrend. RECORDING AVAILABLE   

Session 2Assessing Bluff Recession Using High Resolution Geospatial Data - February 26, 2021, 1:00 - 2:00 PM EST - Presenter: Mike Naber, Ph.D., Associate Teaching Professor of Geosciences, Penn State Behrend   REGISTER NOW

Session 3: An overview of the latest and inclusive online resource related to Lake Erie - the PA Great Lakes Water and Land Technical Resources (WALTeR) CenterMarch 26, 2021, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EST - Presenter: Sean Rafferty, Ph.D., Research Director, Pennsylvania Sea Grant College Program.   REGISTER NOW

Session 4: A Bluff Erosion Potential Index (BEPI) for Pennsylvania - April 30, 2021, 1:00 - 2:00 PM EST - Presenter: Anthony Foyle, Ph.D., Department Chair of Environmental Science and Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Penn State Behrend   REGISTER NOW

 

More about Bluff Recession – An Overview of the Issue and Challenges

Pennsylvania has approximately 123 km (~76.6 mi) of Lake Erie shoreline, the majority of which is dominated by unconsolidated Quaternary-age bluffs ranging in height from 1.5-55 m (~5 - 180 ft) above lake level. Excluding the shoreline of Presque Isle peninsula, the 73 km of mainland coast is over 90% dominated by bluffs, with the remainder consisting of stream mouths and associated floodplain lowlands. Both coastal geomorphology and long-term records of coastal change show that erosion is a pervasive problem along the Pennsylvania’s bluff coast. Given the economic and environmental impacts associated with bluff retreat, there is a need for high-resolution bluff monitoring data, better understanding of bluff dynamics, and updated bluff management guidance for municipalities and property owners. The Lake Erie Bluff Coast of Pennsylvania: A State of Knowledge Report on Coastal Change Patterns, Processes, and Management (SOK Report) authored by Tony Foyle, Ph.D., a coastal geologist with Penn State Behrend reviews current understanding of cohesive bluff coasts with a focus on the state of bluff science, engineering, and management. The report identifies knowledge gaps concerning: (i) bluff behavior and change mechanisms in the natural environment; (ii) forcing mechanisms that induce bluff instability; and (iii) methods and practices in bluff monitoring, analysis, prediction, and hazard management. The SOK Report findings were used to develop a suite of constructive recommendations relating to bluff erosion issues on the Lake Erie coast of Pennsylvania that may be incorporated into future coastal hazard management. This presentation will provide an overview of the SOK Report findings.

More about Assessing Bluff Recession Using High Resolution Geospatial Data.

The Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) was created to aid scientists and managers in assessing shoreline change in a multitude of coastal settings using statistical techniques. Whereas DSAS has been traditionally used to estimate linear shoreline change rates by automating measurement and computation processes, we utilized DSAS to evaluate another linear phenomenon, bluff crest retreat along the Pennsylvania Lake Erie coast. Current and historical LiDAR data and stereoscopic bluff crest delineation methods were used to identify three different bluff crest-lines (2008, 2012, and 2015). DSAS was then used to generate measurement transects based on our parameters. We then used DSAS to calculate rates of bluff crest-line change. Though DSAS’s implied intent is to evaluate shoreline change and provide rate-of-change analysis, the software proved its robustness by allowing us to calculate the positional change of bluff crest-line retreat and the statistical data needed to assess the reliability of the calculated results. This presentation will provide an overview of the methods used to delineate bluff crests along the Pennsylvania Lake Erie coast and assess retreat and summarize the results of the bluff retreat analysis.

More about An overview of the latest and inclusive online resource related to Lake Erie - the PA Great Lakes Water and Land Technical Resources (WALTeR) Center

Prior to its dissolution in 2014, the Presque Isle Bay Public Advisory Committee (PIB PAC) identified the need for transparency and easy access to Great Lakes related information, including: services, regulatory and management guidance, research studies and results, watershed plans, restoration and protection project data, and geospatial data. The PIB PAC members suggested a “one stop web-based center” as a means for accessing and integrating Great Lakes related information, data, services, and guidance. Historically, the PIB PAC was tasked with advising and assisting the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection enhance and protect the environmental quality and economic vitality of Presque Isle Bay. The Pennsylvania Great Lakes Water and Land Technical Resources (WALTeR) website (https://pawalter.psu.edu/), developed by the Pennsylvania Sea Grant College Program (PASG) and Penn State Behrend with the PIB PACs needs in mind, serves as the “central” location for Pennsylvania Great Lakes related data, studies, and information. This presentation will provide an overview of the various features of the WALTeR website.

More about A Bluff Erosion Potential Index (BEPI) for Pennsylvania

The Bluff Erosion Potential Index (BEPI) is a geometric model of coastal bluff-erosion potential developed for Pennsylvania's Great Lakes coastline. It estimates the position of the bluff crest at incremental future points in time, and maps erosion hazard swaths along the coast, using average annual retreat rates (AARR) and natural regrading of the bluff face toward more stable slope angles (SSA). It is based on easily measured land surface characteristics and on inferences about slope stability for unconsolidated bluffs typical of the Pennsylvania coast. The land surface characteristics are mapped and extracted from LiDAR-based DEMs and aerial imagery using transect-generating geo-sampling software, such as DSAS within ArcGIS. The Index incorporates the following mappable attributes: present bluff slope (PBS; reflects stability state) and watershed bluff-slope average (WSA); shale toe occurrence and height (affects bluff resistance to wave erosion); AARR at the bluff crest (reflects the net response of the bluff system to driving and resistive forces); present bluff-crest location (the reference feature for estimating future bluff-crest locations); two reference end-member SSAs (an 18.5' slope based on planning practices on the Great Lakes; a 33' slope based on generalized bluff geotechnical properties); and an assumed horizontal-planar tableland landward of the bluff (for geometric simplicity). These observable and derivable bluff characteristics are the product of a large number of interacting, spatially and temporally variable, environmental conditions and processes that are otherwise difficult to measure economically or in statistically meaningful ways. The Index was developed to improve bluff-erosion hazard visualization along Pennsylvania's Great Lakes coast. This presentation will provide an overview of the BEPI tool.

More about the PA Lake Erie Watershed

The Pennsylvania portion of the Lake Erie watershed drains an area of 508 square miles, including all or portions of 33 municipalities in Erie and Crawford counties. There are 52 streams totaling a length of 1,122 miles within the watershed.  Water resources within the watershed and along the coast supply drinking water to its residents, support economic growth primarily through recreational boating and fishing opportunities, provide spawning habitat for Lake Erie fishes, and supply habitat for aquatic-dependent plant and animal species. Stress from urbanization, industrialization, and agriculture pose a threat to Lake Erie’s recreation and tourism-based economy, ecosystem, and the health of its residents and visitors.  In addition, bluff recession poses a threat to the Pennsylvania Lake Erie economy, environment, and safety of its residents.  Pennsylvania possess approximately 76.6 miles of Lake Erie shoreline, which includes Presque Isle State Park, Erie Bluffs State Park, several public access points, and privately owned properties. 

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011