Great Lakes Shoreline Wetland Response to Global Climate Change

Earthzine2015 Spring VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Monitoring Wetlands and Mitigating Floods

Category:åÊMonitoring Wetlands and Mitigating Floods

Project Team: Great Lakes Climate II

Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center ‰ÛÒ Hampton, Virginia

Land classification map of Georgian Bay off Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada, limited to 10 km from the shoreline. Wetlands are shown in red. Image Credit: Great Lakes Climate II Team


Emily Adams

Idamis Del Valle Martinez

Miriam Harris

Stephen Zimmerman

Rodney Meyer


Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA DEVELOP National Program)

James Favors (NASA DEVELOP National Program)

Past/Other Contributors:

Janice Maldonado Jaime

Lydia Cuker

Kathy Currie

Lacey Freese

Pamela King

Daniel Marx


The Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America include several types of coastal wetlands (e.g., swamps and marshes) that support a high diversity of biota. The health of these ecosystems is important for ecological communities and economic industries, which benefit from fisheries and tourism. Great Lakes wetlands have been estimated to provide more than $10,000 per acre in economic and ecosystem services. The effects of climate change, including variations in temperature, precipitation, and evapotranspiration, could impact the water level of the Great Lakes directly, and therefore, the development and survival of coastal wetlands. Increasing environmental pressures from rising populations, invasive species, and pollution also will negatively affect these wetlands if they are not managed appropriately. An updated land cover classification was developed, using a Random Forest classification method, to evaluate and monitor changes in the wetlands around Georgian Bay and the Southern portion of Lake Ontario. NASA Earth observation data from Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper (TM) and Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) provided historical images and current images to classify land cover. Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) data provided digital elevation model (DEM) data, from which slope was calculated. Resultant land cover classifications were validated with ground truth data. Additionally, TOPEX/Poseidon Jason-1 and Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2 radar altimeters and in situ water gauge data served as a resource for tracking water levels over time. This methodology offers a more cost-effective approach to monitoring wetlands in the region.

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