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Disappearing beaches part of the ebb and flow of Great Lakes water levels

Beach
Lindsey Smith
/
Michigan Radio
A view of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant from the beach at Van Buren State Park.

Like many of us, listener Steven Drews, from Lapeer, and his family love spending time at Lake Michigan during the summer. But for the past couple of years, Drews has noticed some changes at the his family's favorite Elberta, Michigan beach. The last time they visited, Drews said the beach they normally love to walk along was no longer there. Instead, there was a cliff. 

"We know that the water levels are high," Drews asked Stateside. "What we don't know is, is this normal? Is this above normal? Is this temporary? Or is this a sign of things to come for a while?"

To help us answer Drews' question, we turned to Philip Chu, a research scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, where he studies water levels in the Great Lakes.

Listen to the interview above to find out what factors impact our water levels, how erosion plays a part in our changing beaches, and whether or not this is normal.

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