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MSU researchers fear trouble for Great Lakes coastlines, looks for volunteers

Experts say shorelines look dramatically different than they did just a decade ago.
A satellite view of the Great Lakes
A satellite view of the Great Lakes(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 9:42 AM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Researchers at Michigan State University say there may be troubles ahead for Great Lakes coastlines.

Experts say shorelines look dramatically different than they did just a decade ago. To track the changes, MSU is enlisting the help of special volunteers across the state. The “citizen scientists” are being trained to fly drones with special cameras to capture the changes on the lakefronts.

Researchers say this information will be incredibly valuable to help protect shoreline communities and ecosystems.

“We want the program to not only grow but what we’re looking to set up is a history of the imaging,” said Dr. Erin Buntin, Director of Remote Sensing & Geographic Information Science Research. “Really, one or two years of imaging, while it has value. What we want to talk about is the change in these systems; the change in these communities over the long term.”

The Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research, and outreach. As a collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, the Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 34 university-based programs.

Volunteers are currently using drones in six Michigan communities. The program includes Chikaming, Iosco County, Manistee, Manistique, Marquette, and South Haven.

Researchers hope to get funding from the National Science Foundation to cover more than 50.

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