The University of Toledo is awarded a grant to will implement an environmental sensor network system at the Lake Erie Center (LEC) to assess lake/bay/river changes and analyze key environmental influences. Lake Erie Center 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. The project will establish 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. The equipment will facilitate leverage of new federal, state, and private research funding and develop key collaborations such as with NOAA/GLERL, GLEON, and AmerFlux. Capitalizing on the advantageous location and facilities at the LEC, the project will 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 network will include two permanent monitoring stations to be installed on existing structures and a shipboard station to support essential experiments on Lake Erie. Findings will provide important comparisons and exportation to aquatic systems worldwide. Data collected from the network will be open to the public and serve as the foundation for promoting collaborative research and education on environmental change and sustainability in the Great Lakes. The new 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 new NSF Gk-12 program for Graduate fellows in 8 local high schools (reaching 600 students per year), and a new 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. 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 sensor network will greatly enhance and grow these educational and research opportunities through this well-interfaced environmental science learning community to serve as an educational and research model for the nation. For more information about the Lake Erie Center, visit their website at http://www.utoledo.edu/as/lec/.
Environmental Sensor Network for the Lake Erie Center