Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

James Hamilton

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Since 1998, climate change induced low water levels in the Great Lakes have caused environmental and socioeconomic impacts along most of the Great Lakes' shorelines. According to recent climate change research involving different water level scenarios, climate change over the next century may continue to cause water levels in the Great Lakes to decline. Such impacts may include wider shorelines, drying of coastal wetlands, and navigation hazards that may result in increased dredging activities. These impacts will have a strong influence on new shoreline management policies and planning. To better understand potential future impacts, a specific methodology was developed to analyze shoreline impacts on the town of Oliphant. Bathymetric, topographic, and orthographic data sets were used to create maps and digital elevation models (DEM) displaying potential future impacts in Oliphant. A raster bathymetry DEM (BDEM) was created to survey the impact of a serious drop in lake level coupled with Oliphant's shallow bathymetry on navigation, as well as other subsequent coastal issues. Also, a triangulated irregular network model (TIN) called the Lake Level Change Model (LLCM) was designed to project possible shoreline change impacts as a result of a change in lake level. Potential water level scenarios, used in the GIS models, are the result of the combination of published general circulation model (GCM) results, and a hydrologic model. Another key part of the research methodology is a questionnaire. According to results, the research site will be negatively impacted by a decline in Lake Huron's water levels. Coastal zone features such as the Oliphant Fen Wetland, the Oliphant Small Craft Harbour, and marine navigation will be specifically impacted.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season