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USACE Releases Pilot Study of Potential Effects of Climate Change on Dredging Requirements for Great Lakes Watersheds

Upland Sediment Production and Delivery in the Great Lakes Region Under Climate Change

Upland Sediment Production and Delivery in the Great Lakes Region Under Climate Change

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has completed a study examining the St. Joseph River and Maumee River watersheds to estimate the potential effects of climate change on sediment yield and resulting dredging requirements. These harbors were selected both because of their sizable dredging requirements and the existence of sediment yield models that could potentially be updated with new climate information. The St. Joseph River and Maumee River are adjacent to one another, with the St. Joseph River located in Michigan and Indiana, and the Maumee River flowing through Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio before entering Lake Erie through Buffalo District's Toledo Harbor.

This study ran nearly 350 climate change scenarios through sediment yield models for both watersheds, finding very different responses to climate change between the two adjacent watersheds. Study results exhibit differences in both magnitude and direction and a great deal of variability. These results are consistent with two Western pilot studies (Cochiti Dam and Lake and Garrison Dam) and suggest that findings on sediment and dredging should not be extrapolated to other watersheds except in a very general sense. Also, the results obtained from the two models indicate that multiple models should be considered to better understand the true range of potential variability.


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revised August 18, 2017



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