Video: Going Global with Freshwater Science

GLEON fellowship students ask questions during the summer workshop. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

GLEON fellowship students ask questions during the summer workshop. Photo: Grace Hong

“Okay, now we’re going to do a little role playing,” the moderator announced to the room. “We need a customer and a shopkeeper, would anyone like to read a script?”

After a little coercion, two reluctant thespians assumed their roles and launched into an exchange, trading lines like “How much for that brass dish, sir?” and “You drive a hard bargain, young lady.”

The exercise is designed to help multiple stakeholders learn how to achieve what might be called “win/win” resolutions and is taken from the book “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.”

It would be easy to mistake this for some sort of corporate seminar. But it was actually a workshop for the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), an international group of ecologists, hydrologists, information technologists and computer scientists all working together to answer some big global questions about our inland waters. Continue reading

Spring Blitz! Global Collaboration Gets to the Bottom of Plankton Diversity

As spring moves to summer, an unprecedented scientific collaboration is sending researchers around the globe scrambling into their boats and simultaneously heading out onto the world’s lakes. It’s called “Spring Blitz,” and, from Wisconsin to Florida to Switzerland, scientists are out monitoring everything from water temperature to dissolved oxygen to plankton communities as lakes in the northern hemisphere warm up and settle in to their stratified summer conditions.

Center for Limnology (and GLEON) researchers, Paul Hanson and Cayelan Carey head out on Lake Mendota to collect samples for Spring Blitz. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

Center for Limnology (and GLEON) researchers, Paul Hanson and Cayelan Carey head out on Lake Mendota to collect samples for Spring Blitz. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

Most lakes in temperate climates undergo stratification during the warmer months. As the surface water warms, it becomes less dense and “floats” on the cold water below it and, eventually ,the water column of the lake is divided into distinct sections, the warm upper layer (epilimnion to science-minded folks) and the cold bottom layer (hypolimnion).

Emily Sylvia and other GLEON team members collect samples on Lake Annie, south of Orlando, Florida

Emily Sylvia and other GLEON team members collect samples on Lake Annie, south of Orlando, Florida

This is the first year of the project, which is organized by the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, a grass-roots collection of limnologists, ecologists, engineers and IT professionals collaborating to build a better understanding of the world’s freshwater ecosystems. Paul Hanson, co-chair of the GLEON steering committee and faculty member at the Center for Limnology, says this late spring is pushing researchers to their limits. Continue reading

Lake Life Ramping Back Up, Clear Water Phase on Its Way

A trip out sampling on Lake Mendota this morning yielded a robust catch of the zooplankton (tiny animal), Daphnia, a miniscule, yet voracious crustacean that goes to town on phytoplankton (tiny plant) populations that are blooming throughout the upper reaches of the water column.

Spring plankton community, Lake Mendota from Center for Limnology on Vimeo.

Eventually we’ll see so many Daphnia eating so many tiny green phytoplankton, that the waters will become crystal clear. This fleeting “clear water” phase will only last until the surface waters warm and send Daphnia down below hunting for cooler waters. Then the opposite of “clear water” will occur as blue green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms that we know all too well on Mendota take over. Unfortunately, these are just as unpalatable to any grazers in the lake as they are to those of us watching the green scums from the shore…

The sampling was part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz,” an unprecedented limnological effort to simultaneously monitor spring transitions on lakes around the globe. More to come on that next week. Stay tuned!

The CFL's Paul Hanson and Cayelan Carey take measurements on Lake Mendota as part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network's "Spring Blitz" monitoring project.

The CFL’s Cayelan Carey and Paul Hanson take measurements on Lake Mendota as part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network’s “Spring Blitz” monitoring project.