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6200 Bayshore Rd.
Oregon, OH 43616
NSF FSML: Environmental Sensor System for the Lake Erie Center
History: The University of Toledo's Lake Erie Center (LEC - pictured at right) is an interdisciplinary research and education center dedicated to solving environmental problems at the land-water interface and bay-lake exchanges in the Great Lakes – the world's largest freshwater ecosystem. The location of the LEC on the shore of western Lake Erie provides lake access and proximity to agricultural and wetland habitats, at the gateway to the upper and lower Great Lakes. LEC research focuses on linkages between land use, aquatic resources, and ecosystem function and services – using the western Lake Erie Basin land-lake continuum as a model of Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystems and aquatic systems worldwide.
Project plan: This NSF FSML (Field Stations and Marine Laboratory) equipment award to the University of Toledo’s Lake Erie Center funds an environmental sensor network system to assess lake/bay/river changes and analyze key environmental patterns. The project is establishing the first carbon, energy, and hydrologic flux network within the Great Lakes – allowing researchers for the first time to understand the carbon, energy and hydrologic budgets. With our advantageous location and facilities at the LEC, this project’s goal is to measure the exchange of carbon dioxide and water between the lake surface and the atmosphere, as well as the key associated ecosystem parameters (e.g., microclimate and water properties) to support mechanistic explorations of Lake Erie. The sensor networks include two permanent monitoring stations installed on existing structures (the Toledo water intake crib (see image below, right) and a NOAA buoy) and a shipboard station on the Lake Erie Center’s “Mayflier” vessel to support essential experiments on Lake Erie (see image at left). Findings will provide important comparison and exportation to aquatic systems worldwide. Some preliminary results of this project were recently highlighted on NSF's website.
The projects facilitated by the proposed sensor equipment will substantially augment our understanding of complex ecosystem functioning by improving scientific infrastructure and by increasing interactions among scientific disciplines. Scientists, agencies, environmental groups, post-doctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students, teachers, high school students, and the public have joined forces at the Lake Erie Center to study Great Lakes land-water interactions as a model of aquatic ecosystems worldwide. The new lake sensor network will greatly enhance and grow educational and research opportunities through this well-interfaced environmental science learning community to serve as an educational and research model for the nation.
The new lake sensor network is being linked with other existing flux towers in the terrestrial portions of the Maumee River Watershed, including the Oak Openings Savannah, a coastal wetland at the Lake Erie Shoreline, a cropland, and an urban flux tower (see image below for site locations). These clustered towers will permit us for understand the water-land interactions at the watershed scale and provide key cross-discipline education and research opportunities. The southern shore of Lake Erie and particularly Maumee Bay are intensely human-impacted systems due to high human population density, industrial activity, and agricultural runoff; for which this proposed sensor system network will be invaluable. Many of our current research projects at the University of Toledo have immediate application such as tracking E. coli populations, monitoring harmful algal blooms (see image at left -- algal bloom on August 30, 2011, across the street from the LEC in Oregon, OH), remediating waste disposal sites, constructing wetlands, and enhancing sportfish ecology and population structure. Building on existing partnerships with agencies including USEPA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, NASA, USDA, USFWS, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, the Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York Departments of Natural Resources, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources allows for rapid dissemination of information and high potential for implementation. These agencies have joined our "Environmental Sciences Leaning Community at the Land-Lake Ecosystem Interface", and will aid the proposed sensor network.
The new lake sensor network will significantly enhance development of the LEC as an environmental research and education leader, serving as a state-of-the-art website and tour demonstration – located just next door to the popular Maumee Bay State Park. The LEC features a popular monthly public seminar series on environmental research, weekly public and school group tours, a NSF Gk-12 program for Graduate fellows in 8 local high schools (reaching 420 students per year), and a NSF URM Undergraduate Research and Mentoring program; all interfaced in a land-lake Environmental Science Learning Community that will network with the new sensor research program and our website. We will focus the 2012-13 academic year of the GK-12 program on utilizing the new sensor network data in the high school classrooms, beginning with the summer training course for our teachers and graduate fellows in the program. High school students then will engage in science fair projects utilizing the network.
PIs: Dr. Carol Stepien (Environmental Sciences & LEC Director), Dr. Jiquan Chen (Environmental Sciences), Dr. Richard Becker (Environmental Sciences), Dr. Kevin Czajkowski (Geography & Planning), Dr. Tom Bridgeman (Environmental Sciences); Project Technician: Michael Deal
Site Locations for the Lake Erie Center Sensor Network
The Working Framework
Download project documents
|Document Description||Format, Size & Download Link|
|NSF FSML Project Description||PDF, 2.2 mb|
|Scientific and Educational Merit||PDF, <1 mb -- or view in new window|
|LEC Sensor Network 3' x 4' Poster||PDF, 5 mb|
|LEC Sensor Network Slideshow Presentation||PPT, 7 mb; PDF, 6 mb|
For more on this project, including photographs, data, technical installation details, field notes, and more, click to enter the project data gateway (will open in new window).