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This study investigates the impacts of extratropical cyclones on Lake Michigan dune complexes by integrating field measurements and meteorological data from sites along the southeastern shore. Surface changes and wind velocities were monitored at Hoffmaster State Park, Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, and Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore from October to April in 2010–2011 and 2011–2012. Over 70% of the events with wind speeds at least two standard deviations above the mean were associated with extratropical cyclones. The wind directions depended on the cyclone path, with westerly or southerly components most common. Local conditions moderated the effects of storm winds on surface change. The greatest surface changes measured in a trough blowout at Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area were associated with regional winds with a component blowing up the lee slope that produced bifurcated windflow within the trough. While the orientation of a given dune strongly influences the amount of surface change, it does not always follow a simple pattern deduced from dune geometry. Surface changes at Hoffmaster State Park and Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area during a normal winter (2010–2011) and an unusually warm winter (2011–2012) suggest that colder weather conditions inhibited net transfer of sand from the beach but had less impact away from the shore. Moisture also inhibited sand transport, but strong storm winds moved wet sand, sometimes over long distances at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Overall our results show that winds associated with extratropical cyclones play a vital role in the development of Lake Michigan dune complexes.

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