Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012VT69B

Development of monitoring buoy system for lake studies

Institute: Vermont
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $31,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $43,463

Principal Investigators: Jason Stockwell, Breck Bowden

Abstract: Linking hydrology and biogeochemistry of rivers to water quality and ecosystem dynamics in lakes is a critical need for environmental management and regulation. Research programs that combine high frequency and spatially extensive measurements are particularly valuable in this context because they allow determination of spatial-temporal linkages that can be used to identify sources and controlling factors for biogeochemical processes that are difficult or impossible to observe by standard manual sampling techniques. In recent years rapid advances in sensor and communications technologies have created new opportunities to assemble sensor systems that can provide high frequency data (down to seconds if desired), often in near real time (by telemetry). The primary purpose of this project is to develop a lake monitoring buoy and sensor system that can enhance a river and lake monitoring effort that is based on a traditional, low-frequency (bi-weekly) sampling program. The lake monitoring buoy system will be used in part as a demonstration project to assess the utility of this approach for future monitoring in Lake Champlain. In addition, the lake monitoring buoy system will be used to examine short-term dynamics of key lake water quality characteristics as a complement to a companion study of river-to-lake and sediment-to-water column research (funded from other resources). The combined research will provide insight into lake responses to riverine inputs that is currently difficult to impossible to document by standard methods. It is expected that this research could provide insights that would be useful to help inform current management issues (for example, revision of a TMDL estimate for phosphorous inputs to Lake Champlain). It would also help inform future management decisions as development proceeds and the climate continues to change in the Lake Champlain basin.