“David Buoy” Ready for Year 6 on Lake Mendota

Early season boaters on Lake Mendota may have noticed a familiar sight out on the water this spring – a bright yellow beacon, bobbing right above the lake’s deepest point.

David Buoy ready to record measurements on  Lake Mendota for the 2013 season. Photo: Luke Winslow

David Buoy ready to record measurements on Lake Mendota for the 2013 season. Photo: Luke Winslow

Meet “David Buoy,” the tireless floating scientific instrument that has plumbed the depths of our fair lake for five years. Luke Winslow, a graduate student in the Hanson Lab at theĀ  Center for Limnology, has been with the buoy since the beginning. Starting the project as an undergrad, Luke has helped fine-tune the instruments collecting data, dealt with random acts of vandalism, and monitored conditions in Mendota. The data collected by the buoy (some available online in real-time) will help researchers here at the CFL better understand what drives the health of Lake Mendota and how human activities affect its waters.

For example, using data in part collected by the buoy on water temperature and plankton communities, scientists at the CFL can now predict in the spring what harmful algal blooms are likely to be like in the summer.

Luke Winslow works to get "David Buoy" installed for a field season with the Wisconsin capitol building in the background.

Luke Winslow works to get “David Buoy” installed for a field season. Photo: Ted Bier

Winslow recently worked with a team of divers and researchers to get David Buoy out onto the lake for 2013. He sent in this write up below:

We first deployed the buoy in 2008. We didn’t get the platform until late in the spring we didn’t get the everything ready until June. June 26th was a balmy summer day. The sun was shining and the water temperature was 22 C. We had almost all day to deploy the buoy and more people to help deploy than we really needed. After getting it in the water and deploying anchors, we swam around the buoy in swim suits and snorkels as we dropped sensors into the water.

Conditions were considerably more balmy during the 2008 installation. Photo: Luke Winslow

Conditions were considerably more balmy during the 2008 installation. Photo: Luke Winslow

Flash forward five years. Since the first deployment, the buoy has gone out every year. It has spent, sum total, over three full years out on Mendota. It has recorded wind gusts above 80 miles per hour, surface water temperatures over 30 degrees Celcius (86F), and has made 50 million individual observations of water temperature and meteorological conditions.

The team prepares for buoy deployment in Lake Mendota. Photo: Luke Winslow

The team prepares for buoy deployment in Lake Mendota. Photo: Luke Winslow

This year we had a late ice off and what felt like an even later spring. Despite this, we had pressing scientific questions about how phytoplankton communities (aka: algae) change over the course of the spring and wanted to get the buoy out as soon as possible. Unlike 2008, this year the water temperatures hovered around 5 degrees C (41 C). Instead of snorkels and swimsuits, the divers wore dry suits. Despite the cold water, it was still a beautiful day on the lake.

The team works to prep the buoy for its season=long job of data collection. Photo: Ted Bier

The team works to prep the buoy for its season-long job of data collection. Picture taken, 2012. Photo: Ted Bier

“David Buoy” is now ready for the 2013 science, sailing, and scuba season.

Video below of Ted Bier during the 2012 deployment.

Lake Mendota Buoy Deployment 2012 from Center for Limnology on Vimeo.

8 thoughts on ““David Buoy” Ready for Year 6 on Lake Mendota

  1. Hey there CFLers,

    Is there an app for the buoy data? I don’t see a link, but I swear someone showed me the app on their phone and now I can’t find it anywhere on your site. I did find it in the iTunes store after a Google search, but I’m wondering whether that’s through CFL?

    Thanks!
    Elizabeth

    1. There is an iPhone app called Lake Mendota Buoy Data. Luke also made an app for his Android a couple of years ago. Not sure if he saved or continued to develop the Java scripts though.

      Cheers,
      Lucas

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