Monitoring Nearshore Stormwater Runoff within the Great Lakes

Upper left, Google Map of Toledo area and Port of Toledo docks, Maumee Bay. Upper right, ArcGIS analysis of Maumee watershed displaying catchment areas and drainage lines.  Lower Left, MODIS True Color image of Lake Erie in 2005 showing sediment plume.  Lower right, Satellite photo captures the sediment plume from the March 8-13 rain storms that occurred over the Maumee Basin.  Center, Image displaying Great Lakes with Lake Erie highlighted by a circle.

Upper left, Google Map of Toledo area and Port of Toledo docks, Maumee Bay. Upper right, ArcGIS analysis of Maumee watershed displaying catchment areas and drainage lines. Lower Left, MODIS True Color image of Lake Erie in 2005 showing sediment plume. Lower right, Satellite photo captures the sediment plume from the March 8-13 rain storms that occurred over the Maumee Basin. Center, Image displaying Great Lakes with Lake Erie highlighted by a circle.

Team Location: Chicago, Illinois; and Wise, Virginia

Authors: Sindhu Ethamukkala

Science Advisors/Mentors: Dr. Kenton Ross, Yanina Colon, Giovanni Colberg, Jamie Favors, Melissa Soline, Pam Kaput, Dave Ullrich

Abstract: As population and urban sprawl increase in the Great Lakes region, the interaction between humans and the nearshore habitat is escalating. Shoreline development contributes to an increased stormwater discharge into the streams, rivers, and lakes, adversely impacting the water quality and raising concern for the delicate nearshore ecosystems. Stormwater runoff is produced when precipitation from rain and snowmelt flows over any impervious surface that restrains permeation into the ground. This results in runoff being contaminated by the collection of chemicals, debris, sediments and/or other potential pollutants along its course. The U.S./Canadian Great Lakes are some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, surrounded by large cities and agricultural expanses in a climatically wet region. These factors have contributed to the Great Lakes facing a substantial stormwater runoff impact and one that has become an important policy concern for the region. In order to effectively govern the impact of stormwater runoff, policy makers are in need of a more thorough and scientifically-based understanding of the impacts associated with the issue. This project looks to provide a synoptic view of the nearshore interaction by utilizing NASA Earth observations to map and monitor both the land and water environments. Specific extreme precipitation events will be identified through weather station data, as well as TRMM observed rainfall measurements so that the impact of extreme events on water quality can be analyzed. To monitor water quality levels following extreme rainfall/snowmelt events, a time series of maps of chlorophyll anomalies and total suspended sediment (TSS) were generated using MODIS products. The data from this suite of sensors were analyzed for relationships between shoreline-adjacent land cover and nearshore water quality to improve understanding of that interaction for policy makers and assist in the establishment of a baseline for future sustainable growth.

Video transcript available here.