NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

The latest news and information about NOAA research in and around the Great Lakes


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Lake Erie Hypoxia Forecasting Project Kicks Off With Stakeholder Workshop

A collaborative research team, led by Drs. Craig Stow of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA GLERL) and Mark Rowe of the University of Michigan’s Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER),  will be holding a workshop with key stakeholders for guidance on how a forecast model could help meet the needs for information on low oxygen conditions—or hypoxia—in Lake Erie. The workshop, coming up later this spring, kicks off a 5-year project that brings together inter-agency and university scientists to produce a forecasting system that will predict the location and movement of hypoxic water in Lake Erie. The project will link a hypoxia model to NOAA’s Lake Erie Operational Forecasting System (LEOFS) hydrodynamic model, which provides daily nowcast and 5-10 day forecasts of temperature and currents in Lake Erie.

HypoxiaDiagram

Hypoxia occurs in the central basin of Lake Erie in July through September of most years. Low-oxygen water is an unfavorable habitat for fish, and may kill benthic organisms that provide food for fish. It is less well known, however, that hypoxic water can also upset drinking water treatment processes. Upwelling or seiche events can bring hypoxic water to water intakes along the shoreline, causing rapid changes in dissolved oxygen and associated water quality variables such as temperature, pH, dissolved organic matter, iron, and manganese. To maintain the quality of treated water, plant managers must adjust treatment in response to these changes. Hypoxia forecasts will provide several days advance notice of changing source water quality so that drinking water plant managers can be prepared to adjust treatment processes as needed.

While the hypoxia forecasting project will help to minimize the negative impacts of hypoxia, a parallel effort is occurring to address the root cause of this problem involving nutrient loading. Universities, state, federal, and Canadian agencies are collaborating to satisfy the goals of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement by reducing nutrient loads to Lake Erie, a primary stressor driving hypoxic conditions.

The upcoming stakeholder workshop on hypoxia will bring the research team together with stakeholders consisting of municipal drinking water plant managers from U.S. and Canadian facilities on Lake Erie, as well as representatives of state and local agencies. The group will learn about hypoxia and its effects, hear about the goals of the LEOFS-Hypoxia project, and provide input to the research team on their information needs. As the first in a series of meetings of the project’s Management Transition Advisory Group, this workshop will help identify the most useful data types and delivery mechanisms, laying the groundwork for the research team to design a forecasting tool that specifically addresses the needs of public water systems on Lake Erie.

The workshop will be held at Cleveland Water in Cleveland, Ohio. Representatives from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Sea Grant, townships and other local governments were also invited to attend.  

The LEOFS-Hypoxia project is a collaboration with the City of Cleveland Division of Water, Purdue University, and U. S. Geological Survey, with guidance from a management advisory group including representatives from Ohio public water systems, Ohio EPA, Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS), and NOAA. The work is supported by a $1.4 million award from the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research by a grant to NOAA GLERL and University of Michigan (award NA16NOS4780209).

Getting to the root cause of the problem
As part of an initiative conducted under the auspices of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Annex 4, the following forums, led by Dr. Craig Stow at GLERL, will focus on the linkage of nutrient loading to water quality degradation problems, such as hypoxia and harmful algal blooms.

  • 4/5-6: Nutrient Load Workshop
  • 5/9-10: Annex 4 (nutrients) Subcommittee Meeting

Scientists attending these workshops will apply long term research results to estimate nutrient inputs to Great Lakes waters and evaluate how well we are doing in reaching phosphorus load reduction targets established under Annex 4 of the GLWQA.

Additional Resources
NOAA GLERL Hypoxia web page: https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/HABs_and_Hypoxia/hypoxiaWarningSystem.html

Download the NOAA GLERL hypoxia infographic, here:


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Arrival of wave GLIDER SV2 platforms to expand GLERL data collection capacity in the Great Lakes

Left and bottom right: OSAT staff learning the ropes on the Wave GLIDER SV2 during a three-day training in Kawaihae, Hawaii. Top right: CILER’s Russ Miller (left) and GLERL’s Kyle Beadle (right) work in GLERL’s laboratory to prepare the newly acquired Wave GLIDERS for deployment.

GLERL’s OSAT (Observing Systems and Advance Technology) team, in collaboration with the Michigan Technological University’s (MTU) Great Lakes Research Center, is preparing to deploy the Wave GLIDER SV2 to expand its monitoring capacity in the Great Lakes. The Wave GLIDER functions as an autonomous surface vehicle that uses wave energy propulsion and communicates via Iridium satellite, providing real-time data back to users. This wave powered vehicle can be fitted with numerous instruments to collect data on a variety of physical characteristics of the lakes, including: waves, CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth), and currents. These data can be used for remote sensing algorithm validation. With the instrumentation on board, the Wave GLIDER  can continuously run transects throughout much of the year in all Great Lakes weather conditions and can be piloted and monitored by researchers at GLERL.

The two Liquid Robotics-designed Wave Glider SV2 platforms, to be deployed in the upcoming field season ,were surplused to GLERL by NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center (NBDC) in FY 2016. To ensure safe and reliable operation of these persistent, autonomous data collection platforms, Steve Constant and Steve Ruberg participated in a three-day training in Kawaihae, Hawaii at the Liquid Robotics Training Center this past January. They were accompanied by colleagues Russ Miller (Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (CILER)), Jamey Anderson (MTU), and Chris Pinnow (MTU). The training focused on instrument assembly, care, programming, piloting, and deployment and retrieval of the newly acquired wave glider units.

The vehicles, as currently configured, will be used for real-time observations supporting commercial shipping and validation of operational forecasts and satellite remote sensing products. Future applications include mapping of hypoxic zones impacting drinking water and acoustic fisheries parameters in U.S. coastal and Great Lakes regions.


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Happy Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard – Our Nearest Neighbors in Muskegon

LMFS-USCG_PostCard-Circa1905

Today we would like to wish a Happy 226th Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), with special congratulations to USCG Station Muskegon, our next door neighbors at the Lake Michigan Field Station (LMFS).

map

A modern-day satellite view of the GLERL Lake Michigan Field Station (blue) and the U.S. Coast Guard Station Muskegon (red) facilities. The dark area to the top left is the channel that connects Muskegon Lake (to the right) to Lake Michigan (to the left).

The original U.S. Life Saving Service station was built in 1879 on the north side of the Grand River, with headquarters located about 45 miles southward down the shoreline in Grand Haven. Twenty years later—running the risk of being washed away—the original structure was rebuilt on land that was acquired on the south side of the harbor (between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan) where a new station was built between 1904 to 1907.  It is this location at which NOAA assumed ownership of the building from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1990 and where GLERL’s Lake Michigan Field Station stands to this day, as a home for GLERL’s research scientist and staff. The U.S Coast Guard has since built a new facility right next door.

The GLERL field station’s site now includes three buildings, with research vessel dockage next to the main building. Its proximity to Lake Michigan provides support for long-term observations, field work, and experiments that are essential for understanding ecological issues in the Great Lakes and coastal areas.

LMFS_USCG

GLERL’s Lake Michigan Field Station from right to left:”Building 1″ is the former main building for the USGC Station Muskegon. It is now GLERL office space housing the marine superintendent and scientists stationed at LMFS. It also contains a lab area that is used mainly for analyzing fish samples. “Building 2” is for vessel operators who oversee the maintenance and underway periods for vessels. “Building 3” is primarily a laboratory, but it also has a small office space. The U.S. Coast Guard Station Muskegon, and its vessel, can be seen on the left.

We have a strong partnership with the Coast Guard that goes well beyond the comfort of knowing they are close by if we ever run into trouble with one of our research vessels.  Our models and observing systems inform Coast Guard search and rescue missions, we provide scientific and logistical support for Great Lakes spill drills, and we also share resources for engaging with the community.

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For more on the history of Lake Michigan Coast Guard stations (and some really cool photos) check out the July 25 M-Live article.

Here is a little more history on the LMFS and some of our own photos as well.

And last, but certainly not least, check out this awesome vintage video clip, originally produced by the Ford Motor Company in 1915, entitled: “Heroes of the Coast Guard,” which features a ton of great footage from the early 1900’s.

#DidYouNOAA: GLERL’s Lake Michigan Field Station is the oldest building owned by NOAA?!