Many communities throughout Michigan are engaging in coastal resilience planning, implementing various approaches designed to mitigate coastal risks. Generally, coastal resilience actions range across a spectrum of approaches now commonly characterized as “preparation” (or resistance, i.e., armoring), “accommodation” (i.e., elevating structures) and “relocation” (i.e., moving structures landward).

Data Currently Available for Spatial Analyses of Great Lakes Shorelands’ Resilience Actions & Coastal Vulnerability Indices

There are various databases with data on various resilience actions, available for use by ocean coastal communities to conduct analyses in support of local planning for enhanced resilience. For example, NC One Map has several GIS data layers related to resilience approaches. Similarly, Western Carolina University administers a website-housed data base of ocean coastal beach nourishment projects. A single, integrated source of data is currently not available for Great Lakes coastal communities.

Figure 1. Map of resilience actions in Michigan’s coastal zone. Developed using FEMA HMA grant dataset, NOAA hardened shoreline classification dataset, USGS public lands dataset, and Journal of Coastal Research journal article dataset.

Nonetheless, there are a variety of data sources that can be used to evaluate the state of coastal resilience in Michigan and other Great Lakes states. Table 1 provides a summary of data sources that can be used for conducting analyses in support of undertaking resilience actions (organized by type of action) and provides a link to each data set, the data source, data format, description, and advantages versus disadvantages of working with the dataset. Figure 1 shows a map generated for the state of Michigan using a combination of some of the datasets described in Table 1.

In addition to evaluating potential coastal resilience actions, localities might consider analyzing coastal biophysical vulnerability for their planning efforts as well. Coastal biophysical vulnerability on the Great Lakes can be determined by a combination of variables, including, for example, geomorphology (shoreline composition and height), coastal slope, water level variability, shoreline change (accretion/erosion), wave height, and annual ice cover/concentration.

Researchers are currently evaluating ways to improve methodologies for conducing coastal vulnerability analyses along Great Lakes shores. In the meantime, for communities interested in pursuing such analysis, Table 2 provides a summary of data sources currently available for a variety of measures that can be uses to assess biophysical vulnerability variables. In using these data, note that the erosion data currently available are largely insufficient for a number of reasons (e.g., not provided as a useful scale, incomplete). More data sources and improved methodologies for using them will be added to this website as they are developed.