Circulation Patterns Within the Near-Shore Region of the Southern Basin of Lake Michigan

by Nani G. Bhowmik, Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, United States,
Ta-Wei Soong, Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, United States,
Il Won Seo, Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, United States,
William C. Bogner, Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


The southwestern basin of Lake Michigan has been subject to extreme stresses because of its close proximity to large populations. A knowledge of the current patterns within this zone would be of great assistance to water resources managers in implementing appropriate management alternatives. A pilot research project was recently completed in which data on currents were collected from this basin. Velocity data were collected from two sites: one near Wilmette Harbor and the other near the 8,000- year-old tree stump site discovered in Lake Michigan about 15 miles from the shore. Analyses of the near-shore data have shown that a fairly strong longshore current exists during the fall season, moving from a northwesterly direction toward a southeasterly direction. Velocity data collected near the tree stump site at two depths (80 feet, and close to the bed) for a four-week period in the summer of 1990 indicated that the water normally flowed in a westerly direction for about a week, after which the direction completely changed by about 180°. During this four-week period, the overall direction of water movement changed about 9 to 10 times, indicating a large rotating flow field probably on the order of 4 to 5 miles in diameter.

Subject Headings: Water circulation | Lakes | Nearshore | Basins | Flow measurement | Light rail transit | Fluid flow | Fluid velocity | Lake Michigan | Great Lakes

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