Michigan Coastal Mapping

In 2015, the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust (SWP) received a Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program grant to collect and analyze high-resolution, multi-spectral aerial orthophotography of nearly 1,000 miles of the state’s Great Lakes coastline.

AES collected low-altitude aerial imagery and processed and analyzed data to map detailed land cover types and identify areas of exposure to coastal hazards.  Mapping focused on infrastructure – roads, buildings, and unvegetated areas – ultimately prioritizing hazard areas by distance-to-water and proximity-to-extreme-slopes.

Maps identified high-risk exposures in association with infrastructure and areas of low biomass or bare ground in proximity to coastal erosion zones.  Outputs were used to create a land cover classification and map coastal risk hazards on the Upper Peninsula’s Lake Superior shoreline,  Michigan’s east shoreline of Lake Michigan, and a 50-mile stretch of Lake Huron.

In addition, critical dune sites were mapped and analyzed along with strategic “hot spot” erosion hazard zones.

Data products were integrated online and made available to the public as an expansion of the SWP Shoreviewer program, an online resource that offers aerial images of the Lake Superior shoreline that AES collected four years earlier. The new imagery collected in 2015 over a significantly expanded range increases the present and future functionality of Shoreviewer.

This grant project, coupled with and the Shoreviewer application improved knowledge and fostered increased resilience for Michigan’s Great Lakes coast with respect to coastal erosion risks and adaptation opportunities.


  • Coastal Risk Assessment
  • Aerial Imagery Acquisition
  • GIS-Based Mapping
  • Integrated On-Line Application
  • Project Sponsors: NOAA, MDEQ, MOGL

Michigan Coastal Erosion Hazard Mapping
Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron
1,000 miles of coastline

appliedecoMichigan Coastal Mapping