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Quantifying Wave Energy on Minnesota Lakes

Authors: William Herb, Ben Janke, Heinz Stefan, University of Minnesota

Abstract: There are many ways in which healthy near-shore habitat and water quality in lakes is linked to wind and wave energy. Examples include walleye spawning habitat on nearshore gravel substrates, the distribution of submersed aquatic plants, sediment resuspension by wave action, and shoreline erosion. Successful lake habitat restoration requires good information on wind and wave energy, and this information is commonly not available for inland lakes. The main goal of this LCCMR-funded project was to create easily accessible information on lake wave energy to enable successful habitat restoration projects and increase natural fish reproduction in Minnesota lakes. The project partnered the University of Minnesota with the MN Department of Natural Resources, was completed August 2021, and included field measurements of wind and wave height on four lakes ranging in size from 350 to 5000 acres, wave modeling work to map typical wave energy on the shorelines of 400+ Minnesota lakes, and experimental work in a wave flume to better understand how nearshore sediment responds to wave energy in lakes. A major part of the project was to develop models for wave height and energy that consider wind sheltering by trees, so that wave height predictions could be made for smaller lakes with fetches of a kilometer or less.