2014 em fall

2014 em fall
FALL 2014
Galapagos Drones
Mapping bird habitat from the air
Toledo Water Crisis
Toxic algae fast-tracks Lake Erie data buoy
Underwater Video
Submersible cameras ease fish counts
fondriest.com discount code: EM1411
Web Exclusives
In the News
Featured Photo
Environmental Education
Galapagos Drones
School of Ants
Product Innovation
Maine Buoys
Toledo Water Crisis
Front Range Air
Palm Plantations
Upside Down River
Turbidity and Beyond
Buoy for Erie, Penn.
Missing Fish
Invasive Species Infographic
environmental monitoring products
Greenland Drifters
Manta Ray Highway
Monitoring Gear
PhenoCam Network
Cameras for Fish Counts
FishSens SondeCAM
Great Lakes Research
Majuro Wave Buoy
Industry Profile: John Halfman
California Groundwater
New Technology
Crossword Puzzle
Buffalo Pound Lake in southern Saskatchewan
poses a challenge for scientists looking to model it
and for treatment plant operators that draw water
from the bloom-prone reservoir. A new data buoy
wrapping up its first field season should be able
to help with both.
Cover Photo: Doug Nguyen / NexSens Technology
Welcome to the Fall 2014 edition of the Environmental Monitor. It’s all about buoys around
here, with feature stories on platforms tracking lake and marine conditions across the
country. That includes a buoy off the coast of Erie, Pennsylvania, measuring waves,
weather and water quality. More importantly, it has its own T-shirt design. Joining that
data buoy in Lake Erie is another one floating near the City of Toledo’s water intake crib, a
project that was fast-tracked after a toxic algae bloom left 500,000 people without access
to tap water this summer. We also have a tour of buoys throughout Maine and a look at
a platform measuring waves off Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Steve Fondriest, President
[email protected]
Beyond buoys, we’ve got a first look at the SondeCAM, a high-end underwater camera
from FishSens Technology. They’re designed for anglers or fisheries researchers looking to
identify structure and track water quality.
Located in Fairborn, Ohio, Fondriest Environmental is the trusted partner you can turn to
for help with environmental monitoring projects. We can assist in everything from planning
and monitoring to systems integration, equipment calibration and even staff training. Our
applications engineers assemble, integrate, and calibrate all equipment – when you get
it, it’s ready to use. Our specialists have years of experience developing and deploying
remote systems and working with leading suppliers such as YSI, Hach, Thermo Scientific,
In-Situ, Solinst, NexSens, and many more.
Paul Nieberding, General Manager
[email protected]
Jeff Gillies, Editor
[email protected]
Daniel Kelly, Staff Writer
[email protected]
Alex Card, Staff Writer
[email protected]
Charity Smalls, Freelance Writer
[email protected]
Nate Christopher, Graphic Designer
[email protected]
Marina Lamquin, Marketing Specialist
[email protected]
Christine Kemker, Marketing Specialist
[email protected]
Mike Voellmecke, Applications Engineer
[email protected]
Tyler Fondriest, Mechanical Engineer
[email protected]
Fondriest Environmental, Inc.
2091 Exchange Court
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Warmer temps and greater tree growth could slim Sierra Nevada streams
In California’s reality of shrinking snowpack and rising temperatures, there appears to be a new
threat to the state’s freshwater supplies on the horizon: expanding mountain forests. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine made the connection in a study that assumed a more
than 4-degrees-Celsius rise for temperatures in the Sierra Nevada by 2100.
Cooler temperatures in high elevations keep tree growth at a slow pace. But if temperatures
rise by their predicted levels, that growth will ramp up and evapotranspiration — essentially
evaporation combined with plant transpiration — will follow. That translates into a massive drop
in runoff feeding tributaries below.
WQData LIVE automates data management and project
collaboration across multiple sites and users all in one secure
datacenter. Any web browser can access data streamed from
remote devices. All configuration, processing and data sharing
can now be performed in the NexSens cloud.
Photo: (top) Geographer, via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 1.0; (center) Ian Halm, U.S. Forest Service; (bottom) Jesse Port
The findings have already advanced understanding of the Sierra Nevada’s hydrology and the
interactions its forests have with ecosystems surrounding them. But what is one of the first looks
into the likelihood of expanded tree growth there has also revealed what impacts climate
change may have on future water availability in California.
Smart Forest Network looks to ease sensor data flow from experimental forests
There’s something growing in the United States’ Northern forests: a vision for a cross-country
network of forest sensor stations delivering high-quality data to anyone who wants them.
Today, the so-called Smart Forest Network provides hydrological and meteorological data
from just three sites in the U.S. Forest Service’s Experimental Forest system. But as the program
continues to grow, the network will provide consistent measurements that will make it easier to
see how forest ecosystems function and change across the country’s small watersheds. The
sensors are already installed at many experimental forests, but tracking down and working
with those data isn’t simple for researchers interested in studying multiple sites, according to
John Campbell, a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service.
“They’re not collected in a common format. The units are all different. You would have to contact
individuals at the site to try and get the data,” Campbell said. “Even though the data are being
collected, they’re not really in a form that’s all that usable.”
Future of eDNA could bring easier, low-cost marine species monitoring
Jesse Port imagines a future where fishery managers and conservationists might rely on a
few quick water samples to determine great white shark populations or human waterborne
pathogens, rather than spending dozens of hours and significant resources on traditional
monitoring approaches. An early career fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Ocean
Solutions, Port believes the key to this feat is environmental DNA, or eDNA, the genetic
information left in an environment by animals.
Port is a co-author on a paper published in the research journal Science alongside scientists from the University of Washington and the University of Copenhagen. The paper
proposes the use of eDNA sampling for assessing the biodiversity of marine ecosystems.
The microbial studies that Port mentioned focused largely on uncovering new species. The
methods proposed in the paper would help researchers, aquatic managers and others
locate and quantify known species of concern.
In the News
Their idea is based on telecommunications companies’ knowledge of rain’s
effects on signal transmission. Rain Cell
Africa successfully partnered with a
local cellphone operator company and
had access to data recorded from a
monsoon in 2012. They hope to convince
other companies to participate.
Associate professor Joseph Awange
monitors the Nile’s inputs and outputs
from rainstorms, drought and human
use, then gives the information to
affected countries so they can adjust
their resource management plans.
The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite mission provides data
for the project. Its two satellites pick up
changes in the Earth’s gravity field to help
determine a specific area’s soil moisture,
surface water and groundwater levels.
Rain Cell Africa group wants to
boost cell tower-based rainfall
Scientists in Africa want to partner
with cell phone tower companies to
track rainfall, according to a release
from the Instiut de Recherché pour le
Cell towers cover a majority of the globe’s
inhabited areas and track signal interruptions due to precipitation. The Rain Cell
Africa partnership wants to use this information to enhance rainfall auditing.
Scientists released two robot prototypes
into the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand,
according to the New York Times.
If stars typically form a protoplanetary
disk — scientists are pretty sure that’s the
case — and if water can be present in
any of those disks, then there’s a good
chance water exists on plenty of other
planets across the universe, the researchers say.
Deforestation in Amazon Rainforest
jumps 29 percent
Satellite data through the end of July
2013 show that an area half the size of
Puerto Rico has been cleared from
the Amazon rainforest over 12 months,
according to The Guardian. The destruction marks a reversal in restoration gains
seen in tree cover there since 2009.
The robots are engineered to monitor
temperature and other parameters more
than three miles below the surface. The
robots, launched in June, resurface regularly to transmit their recordings to a satellite before returning underwater. Ideally,
more of these robots will be launched
into the ocean over time to contribute to
the Argo network.
Scientists believe that ocean activity can help decode the mystery of
slowed global warming in recent years.
Researchers have speculated that
typical climate variability and China’s
increased use of coal have contributed
to the slowed warming. However, studies
indicate that global warming pauses
have occurred before.
Much of Earth’s water older than
the sun
A new study asserts that 30 to 50 percent
of Earth’s water is older than the sun, the
Washington Post reported. The findings
could help scientists unravel the mystery
behind the source of water on this planet
and others.
By analyzing deuterium, an isotope of
hydrogen that forms what scientists call
“heavy water,” researchers found that
the seismometer was encrusted with
gooseneck barnacles.
Researchers at the University of Japan
are hopeful that the device contains
usable data on the earthquake and
events that followed. Other debris from
the tsunami have been washing up on
Japanese shores this year, as shifting currents and winds have brought in more
than 100 cubic meters of matter.
The Brazilian government reports that
5,891 square kilometers of the forest have
been cleared in its Amazon regions, up
29 percent from the year before. The
largest decreases were seen in Brazil’s
Para and Mato Grosso states.
Illegal logging as well as public infrastructure projects are expected to have
contributed to the increase in deforestation. Despite the move upward, figures
are still not as bad as they were in 2004,
when almost 30,000 square kilometers of
forest were lost.
Hole in the ozone layer may
be shrinking as regulations aid
For the first time in decades, scientists
have found that ozone concentrations in
the atmosphere have gone up by a significant amount, according to NPR. NASA
researchers made the discovery and say
the giant hole in Earth’s ozone layer may
be shrinking as a result.
From 2000 to 2013, scientists say that
ozone levels climbed by four percent in
the mid-northern latitudes. That’s located
about 30 miles up, at the upper edge of
the stratosphere.
An increase of ozone to the stratosphere
is a considerable achievement for scientists who first noticed that CFCs were
destroying the gas above Antarctica in
Photo: Jim Norris / Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Scientists from Curtin University in Australia are monitoring the Nile River Basin
to help the countries that depend on
its waters respond to fluctuations in the
river’s volume, according to a university
the 1970s. And some say that steps taken
in the 1980s, notably the Montreal Protocol which phased out CFC use, are finally
yielding benefits today.
Photo: (left) NASA; (right) NASA
Nile River monitoring to help users
respond to fluctuating volume
Robotic floats seek oceanic clues
to slowed global warming
water molecules may have been left
over from the gaseous cloud that formed
the sun. Following the sun’s birth, a protoplanetary disk of matter would have
been left behind. Water from this disk
likely ended up here on Earth.
Seismometer lost in Japanese
tsunami washes up on Canadian
shore 3 years later
A seismometer that captured data on
an earthquake that caused a massive
tsunami off the coast of Japan has been
found floating in a swath of ocean debris,
according to Global News. The University
of Japan lost contact with the device
shortly after the natural disaster began
in March 2011.
A fisherman found the lost device, which
appeared from faraway as a giant,
orange ball. As it was deployed on the
ocean floor, closer inspection revealed
thermistor string
Fast response.
Rugged design.
Modbus interface.
Science solves mystery of Death
Valley’s slithering stones
In California’s Death Valley, the stones
on the desert floor have been known
to move on their own accord, leaving
trails in the sand that have bamboozled
onlookers for decades. But with the help
of GPS transponders and a video camera,
one geologist from the Scripps Institution
of Oceanography believes he’s found
the answer to this ongoing riddle, NPR
The boulders — some weighing up to
500 pounds — seem to skate across the
playa sand in a variety of patterns, from
straight to crooked and even reversing
course. Geologist Richard Norris tagged
one stone with a GPS unit and set up a
camera nearby.
He found that a thin layer of ice would
occasionally form over the playa, then
melt and shift, moving the boulders as
well. However, the phenomenon requires
specific conditions: rain, then cold air
and sunshine with a little breeze.
Boogie Down
Floating a boogie board down an urban
creek downstream of a wastewater
treatment facility in Kansas might not
sound like the most enticing day on the
water. But it made for a good day of data
collection for scientists who loaded up their
custom board with water quality sensors
and measured the effects of the treatment
plant’s recent upgrades.
On the day of the deployment on Indian
Creek, the crew learned quickly to help
the platform get around stream features
disrupting its free-floating path. The craft
needed a foot and half of depth, so when
it came up on shallow riffles, someone
had to pick it up and move it downstream,
according to USGS hydrologist Guy Foster.
“And when we hit some of the longer,
deeper pools, which didn’t have any
velocity in them, we had to get out and
push, so to speak,” Foster said.
Photo: Guy Foster / U.S. Geological Survey
R/V Folger
Elwha River Class
Lake Champlain’s size and saltwater history makes it a great place for inland academics to study oceanography and marine geology. Middlebury College’s loaded R/V
David Folger is a great way to get students on the water.
When the largest dam removal project in history was set to begin on the Elwha River,
poised to release thousands of tons of sediment locked away for decades, scientists at
the University of Washington saw a need to investigate. No one was sure what such a
highly concentrated flow of sediment could mean for the Strait of Juan de Fuca downstream.
The 48-Foot R/V David Folger is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments to map the
lake bottom, track currents, measure water chemistry and sample sediments. It’s at the
forefront of the experiential, hands-on approach to learning in Middlebury’s geology
Plenty of students were interested in the high-profile project, so university officials put together a 10-week, investigative course to meet both their needs and those of researchers
looking for answers.
“We make sure we are out in the field every week and making sure students learn the
whole process of how to collect data, how to interpret data and how to present that
data,” said Patricia Manley, a professor of geology at Middlebury College in Vermont.
“In essence, it’s the scientific method.”
The students can collect that data with acoustic Doppler current profilers, a multibeam echo sounder, a CTD rosette and sediment corers. What they’ll use depends
on the research focus at the time. For introductory-level oceanography classes, the
students get a choice between tasks like mapping bottom morphology, or looking at
circulation, water chemistry or sediment history.
Since work began to remove the dam, students have taken up residence in UW’s Friday
Harbor Labs every year to take the specialized course. “They’re immersed in science,
which really helps them get the ins and outs and hit the objectives of the course,” Ogston
The students have made a few discoveries, including a coastal jet and a bathymetric
feature previously known only to fishermen but absent from some maps. Last fall, a
class found a large underwater landslide.
With the last piece of the dam recently removed, Ogston and her students are excited to
see what it’s holding back. “The fall and winter streams and floods — we think these could
be some of the biggest sediment flows we’ve seen,” she said.
Researchers in Southern Indiana are trying to find the right place to reintroduce the
endangered crawfish frog, which relies on crawfish burrows to hide from predators and
can only live where the species coexist. A groundwater monitoring project there benefits
not just the frog, but also federal land managers and undergraduate students looking
for real-word experience.
Miller Run flows through the campus of Bucknell University via underground pipes and
a concrete channel lined with riprap. It empties into Limestone Run, a tributary to the
much larger Susquehanna River.
“I had a few ideas in mind,” Root said. “But they said if you really want to help us, we’ve
got this issue where we want to release these frog eggs.”
Root took up the cause, securing a grant to cover the cost of well materials and pressure
transducers to equip a long-term monitoring network.
But an early survey turned up no trace of the water table, ruling out one site as potential
crawfish frog habitat. That saved the time, money and egg masses that would have
been wasted on a failed reintroduction. In the meantime, Root has already gained
exposure to the workings of government land management, a career path that he’s
interested in.
Photo: (top) Emily Eidam; (bottom) Bucknell University
Miller Run
Photo: (top) Patricia Manley; (bottom) Brandon Root
Crawfish Frog
Scientists want to introduce crawfish frog eggs in suitable habitats, which includes a
water table within six feet of the land surface. Brandon Root, a senior geology student
at the University of Southern Indiana, was looking for a course project. Managers at the
Patoka National Wildlife Refuge had just the thing for him.
“The class gives a good introduction to the basics while bringing in the things they’re
interested in,” said Andrea Ogston, professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. She has taught the class since it began, instructing students whose majors span
the environmental fields.
Along its passage, Miller Run doesn’t get much attention. And though the slender,
brown stream isn’t much to look at, a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has brought new monitoring equipment to study its hydrology.
Project managers plan to use the data to inform restoration work set to begin on Miller
Run, as well as in computer science projects to create data visualizations and models.
Since the project began, Miller Run has been outfitted with a weather station and
three stream gauges that measure its depth, temperature and pH, as well as dissolved
oxygen levels. Data are then transmitted back to researchers. They add to a record
that spans the whole Susquehanna River, as Bucknell already manages the largest
monitoring network there.
“Our goal is to combine all of these data sources and create a visualization that makes
it easy to understand the data,” said Alan Marchiori, professor of computer science.
Gilbert Kim, a research intern, will put together a database to integrate sensors from
stations on Miller Run and those deployed on the Susquehanna River.
It’s not just
an exercise in
machismo. There’s a
lot at stake here.
-James Gibbs
Professor of vertebrate conservation biology
at the State University of New York College of
Environmental Science and Forestry
A recent Galapagos expedition shows
UAVs open new doors for counting rare
species and map habitat in this remote
and rugged landscape.
By jeff gillies
onservation research on the Galapagos Islands is crucial to
track the dozens of bird, reptile and plant species that can’t
be found anywhere else, and without some intervention, might
not be found anywhere at all.
But getting to some of the dozens of islands and islets of the
equator-straddling archipelago can be tough for scientists. And
the work doesn’t get easier once they’re ashore, according to
James Gibbs, professor of vertebrate conservation biology at the
State University of New York College of Environmental Science
and Forestry.
“We’ve been doing a lot of monitoring and inventory work the oldfashioned way, which is getting out there with a machete, notebook and your legs and doing the best you can,” said Gibbs,
who has been working in the Galapagos for 30 years.
To help conservationists cover more ground, Gibbs and his colleagues are pioneering the use of camera-equipped unmanned
aerial vehicles in the Galapagos. A trip there in June made possible by the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy showed them that despite some limitations, low-cost UAVs
can fill an important niche in ecological and environmental
monitoring, from counting albatrosses to mapping plant cover.
about how the DIY electronics they were working with aren’t
exactly rugged.
Gibbs was joined by Sean Burnett and Greg Carney, partners in
a small enterprise called Wildlife Intel that had previously developed anti-poaching technology. Burnett, a health economist
by training and data warehouse analytics specialist by trade,
has also dabbled in electronics for more than a decade. He
said when he began working on UAVs for this project in 2012, the
technology was “just starting to get off the ground.” That meant
it was often inaccessible and buggy — a conspicuous problem
when a sensor error can knock a quadcopter out of the sky.
“The water was so choppy that in our bunks we’d actually get airborne a little coming down off some of the waves,” Burnett said.
“The whole time you’re cringing that your copters are getting
bashed around.”
But since then, the sophistication and number of options of UAV
platforms has skyrocketed, he said. He and the Wildlife Intel team
assembled a package — the UAV platform, batteries, image
processing hardware, a camera that could take crisp photos
while jostling in flight — that they could test in the Galapagos.
For Burnett and Carney, who both live in British Columbia, that
took 32 hours of flight before joining Gibbs for an 8-hour boat
ride across rough seas. That gave them plenty of time to think
All Photos: Sean Burnett
They boated from the main island to the smaller islands they
had targeted for their research and offloaded their electronics,
a generator for charging UAV batteries, food, water and other
supplies onto the shore. From there, they hiked across tough
terrain carrying the supplies to the campsite, from which they’d
break out on day hikes to do the aerial imaging.
It was hard work, but this was no regular backcountry expedition. One of their study sites is the only island in the world where
a particular albatross species in known to nest.
“It’s not just an exercise in machismo,” Gibbs said. “There’s a lot
at stake here.”
Once they were settled, they learned that their concern for the
delicacy of the electronics was justified. Of the five UAVs they
hiked in, they salvaged three. At one point they splinted a broken
frame with a stick. They also learned that the wind and hot, thin
air over the islands would cut into the estimated flight time available for each battery charge, dropping it from 20 minutes to 10.
Despite those setbacks, they still completely imaged two islands:
one with iguanas and one without. That will help further research
on the influence of herbivores on engineering the environment in
these ecosystems, Gibbs said. Beyond that, they demonstrated
that UAVs can fill a niche between what scientists can see on the
ground and what manned flights or satellites can see from the air.
They’re already able to identify animals and distinguish between
saltbush and cactus in their imagery. As the technology improves,
so too will its contribution to important research.
“With a bigger machine and better cameras we could actually
do the first census of this highly endangered species of albatross,
which would be a major service for conservation,” Gibbs said.
hen it comes to ants, myrmecologists know the best techniques to capture them. To draw them in, cookies are used
as bait. But not just any cookie will do. It has to be a pecan
School of Ants
“There’s a historical reason. Pecan sandies have been used for
a long time in myrmecology (the study of ants),” said Andrea
Lucky, assistant research scientist in the department of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida. The common
shortbread cookie is essentially the perfect food to attract them
because it hits all of what ants might be needing in their diet at
a given time: protein, fat, salt or sugar. Lucky has seen a lot of
pecan sandies in her time.
The School of Ants project documents ant populations across the U.S.
while proving that citizen scientists can produce high-quality data.
By Daniel Kelly
“One of these days, I should get in touch with the Keebler
company to see if they’ll sponsor a student,” said Lucky.
The little cookies played a major role in a massive citizen science
effort that Lucky and colleague Amy Savage of N.C. State University helped oversee called School of Ants. Working alongside
researchers from their schools and Italy’s University of Parma, they
documented ant populations across the U.S. while dispelling a
misconception that data gathered by citizen scientists aren’t as
good as those collected by professional ones.
Lucky and Robert Dunn, an associate professor at N.C. State,
developed blueprints for ant-catching kits and made them available on the project’s website. Each kit used pecan sandies, a few
pieces of paper and Ziploc bags. While ants gorged themselves
on the cookies, typically resting on top of the paper, volunteer
scientists put the whole thing into a bag, froze it and then sent it
to researchers for analysis.
At labs in Florida and North Carolina, scientists checked the ants
and logged their findings in an effort to map the distribution of
ants in the United States. From July 2011 to December 2012, ants
from 500 unique sites across the country were studied. And there
wasn’t a lack of willing participants.
The other big issue their work attempted to address was making
sure data collected by citizen scientists was as trustworthy as
those collected by the pros.
Photo: Lauren Nichols
Photo: Nate Christopher / Fondriest Environmental
“When we first got our website up and running, we didn’t know if
people would do it,” said Lucky. “But in the first two weeks, we got
10,000 requests to participate.” The team had to go back to the
drawing board to accommodate so much interest, Lucky says,
but it was encouraging to see that people weren’t deterred by
the prospect of building their own kits.
Children use School of Ants kits to capture ants for study.
Those smart collaborators helped researchers find exotic and
novel ant species from coast to coast. A group of schoolchildren
at a camp in North Carolina found a species of ant there that is
only known to exist in parts of northern Florida. Likewise, an exotic
Asian needle ant, which typically lives in parts of North Carolina,
was found all the way across the country in Washington state.
Those kinds of discoveries are incredibly valuable from a management perspective, says Savage. Oftentimes, it’s not until a
population of invasive ants has exploded that control measures
begin. At that point, non-target species can also be affected by
the treatments, sometimes in negative ways. By starting control
measures sooner, it may be possible to avoid some of those
negative consequences.
“We wanted to make a case to the scientific community that this
way of doing science was really valuable,” said Savage, a postdoctoral scholar in biological sciences at N.C. State University. So
they set up a comparison between data collected by School of
Ants volunteers and those gathered by a group of undergraduate students. Each group used the same methods and collected
data at the same time. “When we compared the results, it was
one of the best correlations I’ve ever seen,” said Savage. The
mathematical correlation was nearly perfect.
All of the discoveries have been posted online, and the ongoing
project wouldn’t have been workable without the world wide
“The reality is that we didn’t find any difference,” said Lucky.
“People are smart collaborators and they can be integrated into
programs if you’re thoughtful in how they participate.”
“There are easy ways for people to access information,” said
Lucky. “We’re pretty encouraged to see citizen science coming
into full flower right now.”
Multi-Parameter Water Quality Meter
Because of its state-of-the-art features and rugged construction, YSI’s new ProDSS handheld is one of the most advanced
instruments available for water quality spot sampling and profiling studies on the market today.
YSI launched the new ProDSS handheld in fall 2014 and it is a
major leap for meter technology, with enhancements including an auto-corrected depth measurement, integrated GPS,
color display and a long-life rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
Project data anytime, anywhere.
Stay connected with the WQData LIVE Digital FieldBook.
LEARN MORE AT wqdatalive.com
The ProDSS is capable of measuring dissolved oxygen with an
optical-based sensor, turbidity, depth, pH, ORP, temperature,
conductivity, ammonium, nitrate, and chloride plus other calculated parameters such was water density, salinity, TDS and
TSS. The cable, which comes with or without a depth sensor,
has a universal port design that supports any four sensors.
The ProDSS recognizes the digital sensors when installed and
automatically displays them on the screen for quick instrument startup.
The digital sensors are recognized by the instrument when
installed and automatically display on the handheld for quick
instrument startup. “We are excited to be able to offer our standard sensor payload: dissolved oxygen, pH, ORP, temperature
and conductivity with the addition of depth and turbidity, both
very valuable parameters to water quality studies,” said Laura
St. Pierre, senior product manager of water quality systems at
YSI. “We were able to do this while maintaining a small, easyto-hold handheld and compact cable and sensor assembly,
keeping true to a small, portable instrument.”
The compact ProDSS is ruggedized for field work and the
driving force behind making it so robust was customer feedback. “Our customers put equipment through its paces in
harsh applications and we want our instruments to be able
to hold up to the rigors of field work and provide reliable data,”
said St. Pierre.
Field testing to prove the handheld’s ruggedness has included
submerging it for an hour and dragging it along a gravel road.
All-titanium sensors, which feature EXO technology, made the
cut. And the ProDSS also packs an IP67 rating and militaryspec connectors.
“We don’t use plastic connectors. We use metal, military-style
cable connectors and titanium retaining nuts mated into stainless steel for the sensors,” said St. Pierre. “It’s a truly ruggedized
instrument that also provides very accurate measurements.”
The ProDSS’ auto-corrected depth measurement is one that
stands out. “We use the handheld’s barometer in real time to
correct data in the depth sensor,” said St. Pierre. “So you don’t
have to worry about vent tubing, desiccants or vented cabling
to get accurate depth measurements.”
The option to integrate GPS makes the ProDSS more flexible for
users with different application needs. It’s now possible for data
to be mapped with KorDSS PC software which is included with
the instrument, St. Pierre says.
For data management, the ProDSS communicates with YSI’s
KorDSS software via micro USB - an improvement over snap-on
communication saddles. The micro port can also be used for
charging the meter’s lithium ion battery or for data transfer to a
jump drive on the go.
Rounding out the ProDSS are features that reduce ownership
costs, like LEMO sensor connectors and a classic Pro Series
design. When maintenance needs arise, YSI offers a 3-year warranty for the meter. ProDSS cables are covered for 2 years, while
most common sensors are warrantied for 12 months.
Lake Auburn
The water in Lake Auburn in Southwest Maine is so clear that drinking
water managers don’t have to filter it before sending it through the
faucets in the cities of Auburn and Lewiston. But a recent uptick in algae
blooms — including one in 2012 that resulted in early fall anoxia and
the death of more than 200 trout — has the water district concerned it
could one day lose the waiver that exempts it from filtering requirements.
A collaboration between the Auburn Water District and Bates College
this summer brought a water quality monitoring buoy to the lake that
should bolster scientific understanding of how the waterbody functions.
The continuous data from the sensors will open the door to a study of
the lake’s metabolism, the balance between oxygen-producing primary
production and oxygen-consuming respiration. Eventually, they’ll be
able to connect the dots between the lake’s metabolism, thermal
structure and drinking-water related issues like transparency and
The lakes are a little clearer in Maine, or at least they’re supposed
to be. Water quality buoys are keeping an eye on lakes across this
state, where small shifts in water quality can be a big deal.
By Jeff Gillies
Dolby Pond
The non-profit Lakes Environmental Association has gathered water
quality data on around 40 lakes in western Maine for a decade or two,
but its record for Highland Lake goes back 40 years. The extra years
of data and active community around Highland Lake made it a clear
choice for the LEA’s water quality buoy, which hit the water for the first
time in July 2014. Plugging in to that invested public paid off when the
group was able to rely on donations to cover an additional six sensors
to track oxygen depletion in the lake. The group wants to know if
stratification is breaking down in the summer and releasing phosphorus
from the bottom sediments up into the water column where it could fuel
algae growth. A bloom in 2002 dropped the visibility in much of the lake
from a standard 6 or 7 meters down to just a foot or two.
The Penobscot Indian Nation’s water quality platform — more of a
pontoon than a buoy — is helping to protect and restore the heart of
their culture. The platform floats in Dolby Pond, an impoundment on the
Penobscot River and one of the more than 110 sites on rivers, streams
and lakes that the Penobscot Nation’s Water Resources Program has
been monitoring since the early ‘90s. In the past 15 years, blooms in the
main stem of the Penobscot River have gotten more severe and have
shifted from green algae to cyanobacteria. The platform project began
after a particularly bad cyanobacteria bloom in 2007 led the state of
Maine to fine an upstream paper mill for excess phosphorous discharges.
It includes a weather station, multi-parameter sonde and a fluorometer,
the last of which provides chlorophyll a and phycocyanin measurements
that will hopefully give an early warning if another bloom starts to form.
Academy Award-winning film On Golden Pond was based on the
screenwriter’s time spent on Great Pond in Belgrade, Maine. That
made “Goldie” a natural nickname for the bright-yellow buoy that has
floated on the lake for the past two field seasons. Great Pond is one of
the Belgrade Lakes, seven hydrologically connected lakes that have
come to serve as something of a natural laboratory for scientists at
nearby Colby College. Judged by national standards, the lakes would
be considered pristine, according to Whitney King, chemistry professor
at Colby. But by the Maine standard, they’re in slow decline — a trend
that can be punctuated by a rapid switch to a eutrophic state. The buoy
helps the college’s faculty keep track of deep oxygen, stratification,
surface productivity and changes in the lake’s stability over time. In the
meantime, they’re working on a custom website to communicate the
data to the public in a way that inspires the watershed community to
take collective action to reduce their impact on the lake.
Photo: (top) Colin Holme; (bottom) Alex Wall
Great Pond
Photo: (top) Kate Paladin; (center) Angie Reed; (bottom) Nora Theodore
Highland Lake
Jordan Pond
Around 60 percent of visitors in Maine’s Acadia National Park stop at
Jordan Pond, which has historically been one of the most transparent
lakes in the state — or so the claim goes, according to Nora Theodore, a
master’s student in the University of Maine’s Ecology and Environmental
Sciences Program. But that clarity has been in decline, and a buoy on
the lake is helping researchers like Theodore test a few theories about
why that’s happening. The lake could be responding to reductions
in acid rain, which may have inhibited water-clouding productivity
until national legislation hole curbed the issue. The other idea, which
scientists think is more likely, is that the lake could be dealing with a rise
in inputs resulting from more frequent storms. The pond has a fairly wild
watershed, so those inputs aren’t the typical nutrients from fertilizer or
wastewater. Instead, the uptick in storms may be flushing more dissolved
organic matter into the pond. The buoy supports two photosynthetically
active radiation sensors at 1 and 3 meters deep to track light attenuation,
and an fDOM sensor will follow organic matter.
The Toledo water crisis that cut off water
to 500,000 people also fast-tracked a
new water quality data buoy near the
city’s water intake in Lake Erie.
By Jeff Gillies
efore Toledo residents this summer lost access to tap water
drawn from Lake Erie, the city had been working with water
engineering firm LimnoTech for a few months on a sensor system
that could better inform treatment plant managers of water
quality conditions near the offshore intake crib, according to
Ed Verhamme, project engineer with LimnoTech.
When residents were told on Aug. 2 not to drink or bathe in the
water from their taps because it carried dangerous levels of a
toxin produced by a blue-green algae blooming in Lake Erie, the
planning process sped up.
“The water crisis made them walk the contract down to the
mayor’s office the next day,” Verhamme said.
System Description
NexSens CB-950 Data Buoy: Floating platform with 950 lb.
buoyancy. Includes three 30-watt solar panels and two 28
A-Hr batteries for power. Also houses data logger and cellular modem.
Campbell Scientific CC5MPX Camera: Captures 5 MP
images and 720p video clips.
Lufft WS501 Weather Sensor: Measures wind speed, direction,
gust, air temperature, relative humidity, dew point, barometric pressure and solar radiation. Deployed 6 feet above the
YSI EXO2 Water Quality Sonde: Measures water temperature,
conductivity, pH, ORP, turbidity and total algae (chlorophyll
and blue-green algae). Deployed 2 feet below the surface.
Nortek AWAC Current Profiler: Measures
water speed and direction at 1-meter increments, wave height, period and direction.
Deployed on the bottom looking up.
By Thursday, Aug. 7, the buoy was in the water publicly reporting
on wind, waves, currents and water quality from a single location in real time. It’s one of the first buoys in Lake Erie to make
that claim.
Perhaps the most important instrument onboard is the YSI EXO
total algae sensor that measures both chlorophyll a and phycocyanin, the pigment in the toxin-producing blue-green algae.
Live data from the sensor will give plant operators an idea of
algae levels at the intake before the water gets to the plant.
“They would eventually see those water quality trends, but
the time from when the water enters the intake crib until they
measure it in the treatment plant can be up to 24 hours lag
time,” Verhamme said. “This buoy provides them with, ‘What’s
the quality of the water coming into our intake right now?’”
In addition to the algae measurements, the buoy’s EXO2 is collecting data on water temperature, conductivity, pH, oxidationreduction potential and turbidity. A Nortek AWAC acoustic
instrument mounted on the lake bed measures wave heights
and water currents, making it the only station reporting those
variables in real time from the lake’s Western Basin. A camera
mounted on the buoy delivers 5-megapixel photos and 720p
video clips every hour.
“The webcam doesn’t give you data you can plot,” Verhamme
said. “It just gives you a general feel of conditions that helps
validate what the instruments are measuring.”
Photo: Ed Verhamme
Illustration: Nate Christopher / Fondriest Environmental
Toledo WATER
The weather and water data are available on a web portal
maintained by the Michigan Tech Research Institute and the
Great Lakes Research Center and. The data are also shared
with the NOAA National Data Buoy Center and National Weather
Service and are available to help improve weather forecasts in
the region. Researchers working on predicting the movement
of harmful algal blooms will also benefit from data from a new
location in the Western Basin.
LimnoTech is a leading environmental engineering consulting
company headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with regional
offices in Washington, D.C., the Minneapolis-St. Paul region, and
Southern California. Their more than 70 employees work across
the Great Lakes, the United States and internationally on a broad
range of water-related environmental issues. They have a particular interest in providing services that require special expertise,
and buoy projects fit that description. Outside NOAA itself, LimnoTech deploys and maintains more real-time data buoys than
any public or private organization in the Great Lakes.
Additional information on LimnoTech can be found on their
website at www.limno.com.
The FRAPPE air quality effort used
state-of-the-art instruments to
track levels of ozone and other
pollutants around the Front
By Daniel Kelly
“The Denver area is a very diverse area as far as emissions go.
Some come from transportation, oil and gas, extraction activities, industrial plants, animal feeding operations, agriculture
and other sources,” said Flocke. “And the northern Front Range
is the main receptor for all these emissions.”
Because of its good combination, the icy coffee drink is the
namesake of a study bringing together many different sets of
expertise and technologies to study air quality near Denver.
FRAPPE, or the Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment, was headed up by scientists at the National Center for
Atmospheric Research, or NCAR. They completed the study to
learn more about summertime ozone levels in the Denver area,
which have recently risen above air quality standards.
“Most of the instruments (we used) are state-of-the-art, custombuilt instruments that measure things we’re interested in looking
at,” said Frank Flocke, scientist at NCAR and a principal investigator on the project.
The large-scale effort brought together some 200 scientists, students and support staff using five research aircraft equipped
with sensors and other sophisticated tech to measure ozone,
carbon dioxide, methane, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, ni-
trates, ammonia and all sorts of other smog builders. Those
airborne data sets were combined with others from ground stations, mobile radar and balloon-mounted sensors.
“Any models of the Front Range have issues getting the air quality right,” said Gabriele Pfister, a scientist at NCAR and a principal investigator on the project. “This study will help us to improve
ozone and air quality models near there. Simulating that near
the mountains is a challenging thing.”
Photos: Frank Flocke
The Front Range Air Pollution and
Photochemistry Experiment is studying
ozone levels near Denver that have
recently risen above quality standards.
rappes are foam-covered, icy drinks made with a little cream,
sugar and instant coffee. Taken separately, their ingredients
aren’t that savory. But when they’re all mixed up, the result can
be quite delicious.
Photo: Barbara Flocke
That’s where NASA came in. The space agency made research
flights over the Front Range through its ongoing DISCOVER-AQ
effort that has dissected air quality in regions across the country.
Its stint near the Front Range coincided perfectly with FRAPPE,
which continued into mid-August. “We worked very closely with
the DISCOVER-AQ folks and we tried to fly our craft at the same
time,” said Flocke.
There are other areas around the United States with similar
mountainous terrain influencing their air quality, like Sacramento, Salt Lake City and places east of the Appalachian Mountains. When a place is situated just right, Flocke says, mountains
can sometimes control air flows.
Near Denver, those flows may be contributing to higher ozone
levels. Flocke and Pfister are still going through data from the
expedition, but have so far noticed ozone pollution making it
all the way to the Continental Divide. And ozone levels near the
mountains, they’ve found, are similar to or greater than those
found at lower elevations.
They hope to make data from the study available to the public
by the end of the year so the state of Colorado can determine
where practical steps can be taken to cut emissions that later
form ozone in the atmosphere.
“Even with the state agencies that do surface monitoring, many
areas have no measurements at all,” said Pfister. “With these
data, we can fill the gaps. And we can also capture what is
coming in from outside the region to get measurements that
cover a larger area.”
once we controlled for precipitation, were higher than
the young oil palm plantations.”
The mature plantations, which Carlson said have nearly
full canopies and 20-meter tall trees, also have dense
networks of roads for the trucks that pick up the palm
fruit during harvests. Those are likely sending sediment
into the stream during the region’s regular and intense
rain storms, though the study didn’t investigate a specific
cause, Carlson said.
Oil palm plantations are rapidly replacing
tropical forests in Southeast Asia. A new study
adds degraded stream water quality to the list
of consequences.
The streams running through plantations were also worse
off than streams running through land used for local agriculture and subsistence farming. Farmers generally clear
a few acres of land and plant rice to feed themselves.
Following that crop, they might plant fruit trees or let the
land go fallow, resulting in a patchwork of land use.
By Jeff Gillies
“You can be walking through a beautiful fruit garden with
amazing durian trees, and then the next moment you’re
in a one-year-old, shrubby area,” Carlson said.
The fact that community-farmed land fostered healthier
streams than plantations is a concern because policies
are going into place that deter oil palm plantations from
replacing intact forests. That’s good for forests, but it
could also push more palms onto locally farmed land
that is still more protective of streams than plantations.
“It could have huge benefits for carbon, but it’s probably still going to have a large impact on water quality,”
Carlson said.
ast swaths of tropical forests across Southeast Asia have
been cleared to make room for oil palm plantations, destroying habitat for rare species and releasing carbon dioxide into
the atmosphere. A new study adds degraded water quality
to the list of effects, showing that the plantations warm locally
important streams and cloud them with sediment.
Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences is among the first to look
at the effects on Borneo streams, comparing water quality in
those running through pristine forests, as well as recently cleared
land and mature plantations.
The island of Borneo has been a particularly hot spot for deforestation, losing nearly a third of its forest cover over the past 40
years. Much of that has been replaced by oil palm plantations,
which are harvested to produce ubiquitous oil found in products
from peanut butter to shampoo.
Some of the results weren’t surprising. A stream draining a
recently cleared and planted oil palm plantation was nearly 4
degrees Celsius warmer and carried an average of 550-times
more sediment than a stream draining an intact forest. That’s an
expected, classic result of deforestation, said Kim Carlson, lead
author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar at the University
of Minnesota’s Institute on Environment.
The region has drawn attention and concern of the global conservation community, though it has mostly focused on the loss
of carbon tied up in the forests and habitat for the region’s many
endemic species. A study recently published in the Journal of
“What we were surprised about was the fact that these mature oil
palm plantations, which do appear to be forests when you drive
around in them, produced pretty high temperatures and really
high sediment loads,” she said. “In fact, their sediment yields,
Photo: Kimberly Carlson
Photo: (top) Kimberly Carlson; (bottom) Yadi Purwanto
That’s important because stream water is a crucial
resource for daily life in the region. They use it for drinking water, to bathe and wash their clothes. Fish from the
streams are a major source of dietary protein, though the
study didn’t trace the effects of temperatures and sediment on local fish populations.
Carlson conducted the research while a doctoral student
at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
She worked under the supervision of Lisa Curran, a professor of environmental anthropology at the Stanford
Woods Institute for the Environment with a long history of
research in the region. Curran played an important role
in setting up Gunung Palung National Park, the site of the
study’s pristine forest stream.
Carlson was in the field for around a year setting up the
five study sites, and members of the non-governmental
organization Living Landscapes Indonesia picked up the
data collection after that. Carlson recalled spending up
to 8 hours a day on a motorbike, cautiously traversing the
park with a YSI 6600 multi-parameter sonde in her pack.
They often stayed in villages and got help from the locals
with identifying streams that drained the land uses they
were interested in.
“We’d either get on a motorbike and drive through a plantation to find the stream or hike for four hours through a
forest, complete with leeches and orangutans,” Carlson
said. “We couldn’t have done it without the people who
actually live [in Kalimantan].”
By Jeff Gillies
ompared to most coastal river systems, the Klamath River
is upside down. It starts slow, wide and high in nutrients
among farmlands of eastern Oregon. As it flows through northern California toward the Pacific, its basin narrows and turns
mountainous, its bed steepens and its water quality improves.
A recently published study tracked water quality in the Klamath
River as it followed its backward path. It’s among the first yearlong records of how the river changes from season to season as
it flows through farm fields, five reservoirs and forested canyons.
A plan to restore the system’s formerly prolific salmon runs
seeks to remove dams on four of those reservoirs along the
Upper Klamath River. The new study could serve as a baseline
for understanding how future work affects nutrients and algae
blooms that plague the river.
“Some of the sample sites are down a four-wheel-drive road
that gets wet and turns into two feet deep of muck,” she said.
“Then you have to climb out on icy rocks. It was pretty gnarly
“A couple of them I did on crutches. That required some recruiting of additional help.”
“The goal was to describe the conditions on a seasonal and longitudinal basis with the dams in place,” said Allison Oliver, study
author and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Alberta. “It
wasn’t to make predictions about dam removal or track how
dams in and of themselves were causing algal blooms.”
Oliver, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at the
University of California, Davis, collected monthly water samples
at eight sites along the river from May 2010 to June 2011. Sampling in the winter sometimes got a little hairy, but it was important because there was otherwise very little data available on
nutrients and water quality during that time of the year. The
weather turned some three-hour drives between sampling sites
into six-hour drives and made access a chore.
The researchers sampled sites upstream and downstream of
most reservoirs to get an idea of how each affected nutrient
levels in the river. The results showed that, for the most part,
the upstream reservoirs acted as sources of nutrients while the
downstream reservoirs acted as sinks.
Photo: Allison Oliver
A new study looks at nutrients in the
Klamath River, which rises among farms
before flowing down into mountainous
canyons as its water quality improves.
“As you moved downstream from the headwaters, the reservoirs
had a increasingly ameliorating effect on water quality,” she
said. “They basically acted like processing units, consuming
But that wasn’t always the case, as each reservoir’s behavior
changed throughout the year. In the high flows of winter, for
example, some reservoirs appeared to add to the nutrient loads
of downstream segments.
Though the study doesn’t make any recommendations on restoring fish populations, Oliver said it’s a good segue to a closer look
at how nutrients could fit in to restoration goals on the Klamath.
Managers want to reintroduce salmon above the lowest dam,
where water temperatures routinely stay warmer than the
species prefers. Lowering temperatures is a common goal in the
fish habitat restoration world of the West, but the Klamath has
few cold water sources (springs, for example) to cool the river
above the site of the lowest dam.
Instead, restoration managers could exert greater control on the
system by looking to nutrients, which combine with high temperatures to create the eutrophication effects that are bad for fish.
“I think it’s important to show that in some places if you want to
do successful fish restoration, you also need to focus on things
beside temperature,” Oliver said.
Scientists chased storms over a mountain
watershed of Vietnam to show turbidity
sensors can reveal more about water
quality than just clarity.
By Alex Card
Researchers sampled streams from bamboo
bridges like these, often during thunderstorms.
onitoring water quality near agricultural land helps farmers
know what’s coming in and out of their fields, but many
sensors and probes are expensive, or — in some parts of the
world — simply inaccessible.
An international team of researchers developed a method to
monitor sediment, carbon and nitrogen flows using just a turbidity sensor alone, potentially opening the door to cheaper, more
efficient monitoring solutions. They conducted a study using the
method in a mountainous watershed in Northwest Vietnam.
“There’s been a lot of population increase there and a lot more
demand on the land, and this is leading to not-so-sustainable
practices,” said Johanna Slaets, a doctoral student at the University of Hohenheim in Germany. She led the study as part of
her doctoral education.
As Vietnam’s population grows, farmers are hastily plowing
ancient forests into fields for corn and rice. The researchers
wanted to quantify the effects of such a rapid transformation,
something that Slaets said had not been done on small headwater basins in the region. To properly do so, they would need to
examine the type and amount of sediment entering the watershed, as well as carbon and nitrogen levels.
While this could have been accomplished with a small suite of
sensors, the researchers found that they could achieve the same
results using just a turbidity sensor, using the haziness of a fluid
as a proxy.
“The whole storm-based thing is kind of challenging because you
end up rushing out at lunch — or 6 a.m., when one of your colleagues wakes you up and says, ‘It’s raining, it’s raining!’” Slaets
noted that some of the locals found humor in announcing a rain
shower when there wasn’t one, sending the researchers into a
scramble that would inevitably end in disappointment.
A soil particle’s reflectivity is partially determined by its shape and
size, two features that also indicate its composition, whether silt,
sand or clay. Calibrating the turbidity sensor’s signal allowed the
researchers to measure carbon and nitrogen, too.
The need for rain wasn’t the only challenge, Slaets said. Lack of
infrastructure made traversing the rugged terrain difficult. Motorbikes served as the primary mode of transportation between
sample sites, and equipment breakages were not uncommon
on the bumpy rides.
“This is the interesting part for a farmer, because it matters what
kind of material is disappearing (into runoff),” Slaets said. “If it’s
very fertile, it’s very bad for the place where it’s disappearing, but
very good for the place it’s going.”
The study took place over two rainy seasons in 2010 and 2011. The
researchers only took samples during periods of rain to obtain the
best runoff readings. When the weather was dry, the researchers
were left to read meters and wait for a shower. This requirement,
Slaets said, made the fieldwork a particularly unique experience.
“Whenever it’s raining, you go out to the field and try to take a
sample,” she said. “It sounds exciting, but most of the time it
means you spend a lot of time on the balcony looking at the
clouds, hoping that rain will come.”
All Photos: Johanna Slaets
Furthermore, frequent power outages put the samples at constant risk, as they had to remain frozen until the researchers could
bring them to Hanoi for analysis.
Slaets said the method outlined in her research could be valuable in many applications, from freshwater eutrophication to the
study of nutrient depletion in upland areas — any situation where
turbidity, nutrient and sediment information is necessary.
“That’s the great thing: you need the same sensor,” she said.
“Everyone knows we have limited time, we have limited budget,
so the more you can measure with one sensor, the better.”
Pennsylvania community
embraces data buoy on their
Lake Erie waters.
By jeff gillies
Photo: Doug Nguyen / NexSens Technology
ata buoys are becoming a more
popular investment for coastal
communities that want wind, wave
and water quality information delivered straight to their computers and
phones. But the buoy floating in Lake
Erie off of Erie, Pennsylvania, might
be the only one with its own T-shirt
And its own business cards. And
window clings.
“It’s a fun project and people have
been very positive and very excited
about it,” said Jeanette Schnars,
executive director of the Regional
Science Consortium based at the
nearby Presque Isle State Park.
Though the state claims only about 6 percent of the Lake Erie
shoreline, it makes good use of it. Presque Isle State Park, with its
sandy, lagoon-spotted point that juts out into the lake, draws 4
million visitors a year. That rivals and even surpasses the totals for
some national parks, and many of those visitors take to Presque
Isle’s sandy beaches. The region’s perch, walleye and bass fisheries draw recreational anglers and fishing tournaments year-round.
“I was born and raised in Erie, so it’s funny to think of Erie as a tourist
town,” Schnars said. “But we really do have a lot of people that
come up here for vacations.”
And it’s those people, as well as the locals who make use of the
water, who are meant to benefit from the buoy. While other moorings tend to supply data to scientists for studies and forecasts, the
Regional Science Consortium has made a big public awareness
push to teach people how to access the buoy’s readings to stay
safe on the water. Hence the T-shirts, business cards and window
clings, all of which sport a QR-code that sends scanners to the
buoy website.
It’s a fun Project
and people have
been very positive
and very excited
about it.
-Jeanette Schnars
Executive director, Regional Science Consortium
Visitors to the website can see a recent 10-second video clip
recorded by a camera atop the buoy, as well as a full suite of
meteorological, wave and water quality variables. The wave data
can help charter captains plan for additional fuel costs when the
waters are rough or save recreational boaters the hassle of trailering up to the lake only to find unsafe conditions.
Stirring up some wake to test the buoy’s wave measurement capabilities.
The wave heights will also be worth watching in October and November as the fall storms blow in. The consortium’s people at the
Tom Ridge Environmental Center can walk down to the Presque
Isle beach to see those big waves crashing over the breakwaters,
but the buoy lets them know what’s going on a few miles offshore.
Jeanette Schnars takes spot measurements to check against
buoy data.
Beyond just keeping people informed of lake conditions, the data
are also going to the National Data Buoy Center, where they’re
picked up by the National Weather Service to improve their forecasts. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is using the
information for fish studies, while local water authority Erie Water
Works is watching the temperature and turbidity readings.
“It’s interesting to see what the waves are doing out there,” she
said. “We did have a couple of significant storms where we saw
waves that exceeded 9 feet.”
Photo: Doug Nguyen / NexSens Technology
The push appears to be working. The buoy was on the front page
of the Erie Times News the day after it was deployed, and Schnars
says the local TV stations feature its data and video clips almost
daily during their weather forecasts. The traffic to the website grew
throughout the summer to around 48,000 sessions in both July and
Photo: Regional Science Consortium; Diagram: Fondriest Environmental
The buoy, nearing the end of its first season in the water, is the first
to deliver real-time measurements of wave height and frequency
on Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie. That’s important information
for the people who flock to the area every summer for boating,
fishing and swimming.
But the boaters, anglers and beachgoers are likely the most important group of users, especially because the buoy’s future is in their
hands. A grant from the Great Lakes Observing System will cover
the buoy through the 2015 season. But after that, they’ll rely on
donations and, of course, T-shirt sales. The consortium is launching a new website soon to make it simple to donate to an account
that will exclusively fund buoy operations. Prior to the 2016 season,
they hope to have enough to cover deployment, maintenance
and retrieval in November before the lake ices up.
“We don’t want to get it out there and not be able to get it back
in,” Schnars joked.
The Regional Science Consortium is a collaborative non-profit
based in Presque Isle, Penn., that coordinates educational and
research projects for Lake Erie and the Ohio River Basin. The
Consortium’s members include colleges and universities, state
and federal agencies, K-12 school districts and other non-profits.
They work out of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center located at
the gateway to Presque Isle State Park, where their facilities and
amenities include multiple labs, classrooms, a theatre and research vessels. Consortium members research topics span from
beach erosion and Lake Erie phytoplankton to brown bullhead
tumors and turtle consumption of zebra mussels.
Surveys of drought-weakened Sierra Nevada streams are turning up sparse numbers of
fish, as well as insights that could aid in conservation efforts.
By Daniel Kelly
n the parched hills of the Sierra Nevada, researchers are surveying
drought-weakened streams to see what effects long-term dryness
is having on fish populations in the region. Their findings so far have
been less than stellar, with sparse numbers of fish being counted.
All Photos: UC Davis Watershed Sciences Center
Still, as data collection is progressing, the researchers, who work
out of the University of California, Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences, are gathering insights that could aid in conservation efforts
that are expected to grapple with coming climate changes.
The purposes of the investigation are two-fold. “If we ever get rain
again, we want to see how well these areas are recovering from
drought,” said Rebecca Quinones, a postdoctoral researcher at
the center and leader of the project. Then, by comparing how the
habitats differ from before and after, “can we predict how well
they’ll do going into climate change simply by differentiation?”
Quinones is building on considerable work by Peter Moyle, who
has studied Sierra Nevada streams and fish for decades. He is one
of the group that is going out to sample the streams for temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen using a YSI Pro Plus
multi-parameter water quality meter. Researchers are looking at
concentrations of phosphorus, nitrogen and ammonia as well. For
fish counting, the group relies on seine nets for threatened species
and electrofishes for others.
“The goal is not to kill anything, and we try to minimize mortalities
as much as we can,” said Quinones. “The ones that we do collect
for teaching purposes are kept in conditions similar to the ones
where we find them.”
And by comparing those conditions to the ones that Moyle documented in the past, researchers can see changes in recent years:
Warmer water temperatures have been recorded in some areas,
while others have shown water losses with ongoing drought conditions.
Quinones is comparing findings to those from studies dating back
to the 1970s as a baseline, and though data collection is still underway, there are some findings to report.
“We’re seeing that drought is exacerbating what’s been going on,”
said Quinones. Spring-fed systems, which keep more stable flows,
are doing better. Some points in the north are also doing better, all
the way down to Bakersfield. “But the San Joaquin Basin is much
drier than the rest of the state.”
The findings so far are more California-centric, she says, and her
research group is partnering with scientists at the University of Evora
in Portugal who are studying streams there to give the work more
international applicability. So in addition to comparing past conditions in California to present-day changes, data will also be used to
see what role land-use plays in affecting stream health.
“The (Mediterranean) climate is very similar (to California’s). There
are wet springs, dry summers and early falls,” said Quinones. What
is different is how the land is used. In Portugal, the agricultural operations are much smaller, usually family-oriented farms that grow
crops like cork and olives. Population centers are smaller too. “And
that’s fascinating because that’s what shapes the habitat.”
Invasive species are animals or plants that are
not native to a specific location, but thrive after
being introduced and often damage their new
environment. While some transported species
are able to live harmoniously in their new habitat,
others displace and out-compete native species,
or even destroy their new ecosystem. Here are
some examples of common invaders in the U.S.,
along with where they are from, how far they have
spread and what they are doing to their new
Graphics: Nate Christopher / Fondriest Environmental
Information from:
USGS, Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center
USDA, National Invasive Species Info Center
USGS, Non Indigenous Aquatic Species
Lake Scientist
Adrift in greenland
Drifting sensors address one of the “golden problems” of glaciology near the Greenland
ice sheet by measuring what happens when meltwater meets the ocean.
By Alex Card
he Greenland ice sheet is climate change’s frozen hourglass:
As the world warms, the ice sheet melts away, slowly dripping
into the Atlantic where it influences oceanic circulation.
If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt, the global sea
level would rise by 7.2 meters, drowning most coastal cities. For
decades, scientists have studied the glacier and its meltwater
in an effort to track the effects of global warming, and better
understand the chemical and thermal reactions that occur
when meltwater meets the ocean.
Their efforts, however, have not gone without challenge.
the Research Center, revealed a number of interesting features
of the fjord system and the glacial meltwater coursing through it.
“This freshwater moving around in the system…can go from
sitting around, to having these very direct movements where it’s
moving multiple meters per second down the fjord, which is very
fast in oceanography,” Winsor said.
Winsor listed three other surprising discoveries about glacial
meltwater in Greenland’s coastal fjords: “It looks like the system
is pulsating, it’s more stratified than we thought it was, and the
changes between low and high salinity are much greater than
we thought.”
“One of the golden problems in glaciology and oceanography is
trying to measure the end result of accelerated melting in Greenland,” said Peter Winsor, associate professor of oceanography at
the University of Alaska. “When all that freshwater hits the ocean,
we have trouble measuring where it’s from and where it’s going.”
All Photos: Kunuk Lennert / Greenland Climate Research Center
Attempting to distinguish between the meltwater and ocean
water is only part of the issue. The narrow, winding fjords of Greenland’s glacial coast are dotted with icebergs capable of destroying most small craft and autonomous measurement platforms,
forcing scientists to study from deeper waters. Use of larger, sturdier vessels only complicates things further.
“Even if you go out there with a research vessel, you’re kind of
destroying the signal you’re trying to measure by ploughing
through that water,” said Winsor, co-author of a study in the
journal EOS detailing an innovative meltwater monitoring technique.
The solution to these problems came in the form of small, satellite-tracked drifters designed to monitor water conditions and
float through fjords while withstanding a hefty serving of blunt
trauma. Resembling a floating Roomba, the domed devices
recorded conductivity, temperature and depth at surface level,
7 and 15 meters of depth. The data and GPS coordinates were
then transmitted to an Iridium satellite every hour, a real-time
process that afforded better research than earlier deploy-andcollect methods.
Initially, the researchers had believed that the transition from
low to high salinity took place over a long stretch of ocean. But
data gathered by the drifters showed that the gradient was in
fact rather steep, spanning only a few kilometers. Vertical profiling revealed an unexpected level of stratification: a difference
in salinity of 20 or greater occurring over 70 meters below the
Although the drifters were durable, they weren’t fully foolproof.
Winsor said the drifters occasionally tangled their tethers and
drogues, or became lodged in ice. Lucky for the researchers,
the residents of Nuuk were often willing to help free the devices.
One brave soul even dove into the frigid water to unstick a drifter.
“It enables adaptive sampling,” Winsor said, explaining that realtime data allows researchers to respond to significant readings.
“It’s a much more dynamic way of measuring meltwater from
the ice sheet.”
Winsor said he and his co-authors are proposing a continuation
of the study that would expand its scope with the inclusion of
underwater gliders.
Researchers from the University of Alaska and the Greenland
Climate Research Center in Nuuk used a helicopter and boat to
deploy 14 drifters between 2011 and 2013. The project, funded by
“We’re hoping to do this again, but scale it up with more drifters
and gliders and nail down in better detail how this system undergoes change,” Winsor said. “We’re excited about that.”
To learn more about the popular yet enigmatic manta ray, scientists led a study of
the species in one of the few places where large numbers still gather.
...THey’re there with
you in one moment
and off in the blue
in the next.
By Alex Card
-Douglas McCauley
Assistant professor at the University
of California, Santa Barbara
he manta ray glides through the water with a grace matched
by few other fish. For centuries, these mysterious creatures
have drawn the attention of humans, provoking a range of
responses from fear to awe to intrigue. Hunted into modern times
for food, leather and purported medicinal properties, the manta
wasn’t protected as a vulnerable species until 2011.
In spite of its relative popularity, the manta ray remains an
enigma in many ways. That’s why Douglas McCauley, assistant
professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, led a
study in one of the few places where this endangered species
still gathers in large numbers: Palmyra Atoll.
“We were really shocked to find how little scientists know about
such a popular, such a conspicuous and elegant animal,”
McCauley said. “I’m trying to understand how the loss of large
animals influences the function of the rest of these ecosystems.”
Briefly occupied as a U.S. naval base in World War II, Palmyra
now houses a small, temporary complement of rotating scientists employed by the U.S. government, The Nature Conservancy
and the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium. The atoll features a
large reef, 50 partially connected islets and two shallow lagoons.
“Isolation has afforded de facto protection for the reefs there,”
McCauley said. “It’s been kind of doing its own thing in the
middle of the Pacific.”
Photo: Gareth Williams
But mantas aren’t there for the getaway. The lagoons at Palmyra
and other atolls provide a perfect spot for mantas to munch on
zooplankton floating in the warm, shallow water.
McCauley and his colleagues employed several techniques to
study the elusive manta rays, from high-tech to admittedly outdated. But McCauley sought a comprehensive understanding
of the fish, and one method in isolation wasn’t going to cut it.
The first part of the study took advantage of the atoll’s geography to observe mantas where they gather on their way into the
“The main passageway into Palmyra lagoon is a single channel,”
McCauley said. “It’s sort of like a manta highway…as they come
from the great blue yonder, the pelagic ecosystem. Often we’d
see trains of mantas, nose-to-tail, passing in and out of the field
of view of this passageway.”
Using a Sound Metrics DIDSON 300m sonar camera, the
researchers set up a “sound gate” across three-quarters of the
channel. Anything passing in front of the instrument over the
next month — whether manta, turtle, shark or swimmer — was
caught in near-video clarity. With no power on that end of the
atoll, the researchers used a Navy piling from World War II as a
base for a makeshift power station.
To get a better sense of the mantas’ movements, the researchers used a method that McCauley called “a step back in technological time.” They affixed acoustic pingers onto some rays,
then, with only their eyes and a hydrophone to guide them, followed the tagged creatures for hours in a boat while GPS units
recorded their movements. Though the technique afforded an
intimate glimpse into the mantas’ lives, it was far from easy.
“It requires being with the fish at all times, which is a mind-numbingly wonderful experience,” McCauley said. “As is the case with
a lot of highly mobile marine animals, they’re there with you in
one moment and off in the blue in the next.”
Researchers took 6-hour shifts tracking the mantas around
the clock. Sometimes, McCauley said, this meant weathering
squalls through the night, taking shelter beneath a tarp or lifejackets for warmth.
In the end, the researchers discovered manta behavior that
could lead to improved conservation efforts. While the manta’s
propensity for long-distance travel is known, the researchers
found that the creatures return to their favorite spots — specifically lagoons — time and time again.
“If you can actually figure out where the favorite spots are for an
animal…then we stand a much better chance of being able to
protect them,” McCauley said.
YSI Pro10
Spectrum WatchDog 1120
Sentek Drill & Drop
Solinst Levelogger Junior Edge
The YSI Pro10 measures pH,
ORP and temperature in field
and laboratory applications.
This high-performance meter
features a simple interface, 50
data set memory capacity,
user-replaceable cables ranging from 1 to 30 meters, and
field-rugged sensors. pH or ORP
laboratory cable assemblies are
also available in 1- and 4-meter
lengths. Military spec connectors,
an IP67 waterproof rating, and a
rubber over-molded case make
the Pro10 a tough field meter.
This self-emptying tipping bucket rain gauge and data
logger provides years of accurate and reliable precipitation
data. The internal data logger records accumulated rainfall
in metric or U.S. units during each interval, which can be set
between 1 and 60 seconds. A PC interface cable included
with the SpecWare software enables data download and
report creation in Excel format. The WatchDog 1120 meets
NWS guidelines with an 8-inch diameter orifice.
The Drill & Drop measures soil moisture and
temperature in an encapsulated, easy to
install profiling probe. Probes are available at
60 and 120 centimeter lengths, with sensors
fixed at 10 centimeter increments. The Drill
& Drop can be buried for short or long
term applications, and the tapered build
allows for extremely quick installations
without disturbing the soil environment.
Communication output is achieved via
SDI-12 protocol for integration with a
variety of industry data loggers.
The Solinst Junior Edge is a compact and fully
submersible transducer that measures water
level and temperature in both groundwater
and surface water applications. Sample intervals are user-defined between 0.5 seconds
and 99 hours, with an extensive memory
capacity of 40,000 data sets. The logger can
be installed via wire suspension or directread cable assembly. Data collection
is achieved via USB interface cable or
App Interface module for Bluetooth
transmission to a compatible Apple
Thermo Orion ROSS Ultra
LI-COR LI-1500
NexSens CB-50
ROSS Ultra pH electrodes incorporate
an internal reference system that provides superior measurement stability
with low drift and fast response. The
double junction reference is ideal for
complex samples such as biological
media, foods, pharmaceuticals, TRIS,
sulfides and proteins. The ROSS Ultra
line features glass or epoxy electrodes, refillable or low-maintenance
design, flat surface and semi-micro
designs. Refillable ROSS Ultra electrodes have a 2-year warranty while
the low-maintenance triode has
an 18-month warranty.
LI-COR’s LI-1500 handheld
light sensor logger is
ergonomically designed and
constructed from weatherresistant materials. As many
as three LI-COR terrestrial and
underwater light sensors can
be connected to the BNC input
ports at the bottom of the meter.
The LI-1500 is equipped with 1
GB of memory stored on an
internal SD card. The mini USB
port serves as the data transfer
and power connection to the
AC power supply adapter. An
optional GPS-enabled model
records the exact location of
Small but mighty, the NexSens
CB-50 data buoy is designed for
emergency responders who seek
immediate data after a natural
disaster. This buoy platform supports a range of water quality
sondes and sensors, and can be
deployed from a small boat,
large vessel, or helicopter.
Once in the water, data
are transmitted via Iridium
satellite, cellular, or radioto-shore telemetry. Power is
supplied through the NexSens SDL500 submersible
data logger, which operates
for weeks on eight D-cell alkaline
The ODO200 is a cost-effective
sampling instrument for measuring
dissolved oxygen and temperature. Utilizing optical technology,
this meter requires very little to
no maintenance during its lifespan. Optical dissolved oxygen
sensors are highly accurate,
hold their calibration for several
months, sample instantly with
no warm-up time, and have
no dependency on stirring
to get a reading. Weighted
cables are available in 1-, 4and 10-meter lengths to best
fit the application. The meter
stores up to 50 data events in a
reviewable memory.
A camera network constantly snapping pictures of
ecosystems across North America is collecting data on
the shifts in seasonal timing.
By Jeff Gillies
rom a Hawaiian grassland to a few
New England forests, dozens of landscapes across the world are under constant surveillance by a scientific network
of automated cameras.
The PhenoCam network is capturing seasonal shifts in all manner of ecosystems
to better understand and predict climate
change’s effects on the timing of phenological events, from leaf-out in deciduous forests to the general greening up of
The 80-some camera sites across North
America aren’t just producing a gallery of
pictures from local and far-flung locales.
The network produces quantitative data
that could one day back sophisticated
research into ecosystem processes like
carbon uptake and hydrology.
It’s also a powerful way to show everyday
people how climate change is playing
out in their backyards, according to
Andrew Richardson, associate professor
of organismic and evolutionary biology
at Harvard University and the principal
investigator on the PhenoCam project.
All Photos: PhenoCam
Photo: David Naftz
“It’s one really good way of communicating climate change to the general
public,” Richardson said. “If people know
that spring is coming 10 days earlier than
it was three decades ago, that’s much
more tangible than saying temperatures
have warmed 3.6 degrees.”
The sites are equipped with networked
security cameras that snap photos every
half-hour and upload them to the PhenoCam server. The photos are compiled
and analyzed by an automated image
processing system that pulls a quantifiable level of greenness from the images.
With a long enough time series, a plot of
the greenness data reveals patterns in
how each system responds to seasonal
environmental cues like temperature and
Data from a camera overlooking the
canopy at Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, for example, shows a regular cycle
of greenness climbing in the spring with
leaf-out and dropping in the fall with the
changing colors.
The data from a grassland in Waimea,
Hawaii, however, are much less predictable.
“The site is very dependent on pulses
of rainfall,” Richardson said. “Those just
don’t occur on the same regular seasonal cycle as the deciduous forests in
New England.”
Vegetation measurements from satellite instruments have been an important
tool for tracking phenology. Richardson
co-authored a recently published study
that tied satellite measurements to other
data to show that earlier springs brought
on by climate warming in the Northeast
have led to increased carbon uptake in
forests. In another 10 or 15 years, similar
studies will be possible with PhenoCam
data, Richardson said.
Scientists on the PhenoCam project are
also hoping to use the data to build mathematical models to predict phenology in
different ecosystems, as well as how these
events might shift in a changing climate.
That includes the less technical aspects
of phenology that Richardson says the
general public understands intuitively.
“They’re seeing their daffodils or crocuses
earlier. Maybe autumn colors weren’t
quite what they were in the past,” he said.
“That’s the kind of stuff we can monitor
and track, and then forecast with the
data from this network.”
A year’s worth of photos from Harvard
Forest station.
One Fish,
Two Fish
A new study shows the utility of underwater
video cameras for counting fish in dense cover
for population estimates.
By Alex Card
n the business of fishery management and conservation,
numbers count. But fish aren’t keen on filling out census forms,
and even small ponds can house thousands of individuals
among dozens of species. Assessing those populations isn’t
easy, but a University of Florida study shows that underwater
video can accurately enumerate the relative abundance of fish,
even in obscured environments.
Part of a larger project that examined the invasive plant Hydrilla,
the study addressed the challenge of sampling fish populations
in ponds fraught with the pervasive waterweed. In those ponds,
Hydrilla grows so thick that it forms a canopy, making it nearimpossible to successfully cast a line or net.
Wilson and the other researchers considered two alternative
sampling methods: divers, who could observe and tally fish the
old-fashioned way, and waterproof cameras capable of capturing underwater scenes in digital video.
The divers were quickly vetoed.
“A snorkeler is just as likely to get snagged as any other instrument,” Wilson explained. “In the best situation they get a good
view, but they still have to write everything down.”
So the team opted for the camera. Small, sleek and lightweight,
it seemed apt to peer through the submerged thicket. An Australian research group had proven the usefulness of video sampling in the Great Barrier Reef’s crystalline waters, but whether
the technique would work in a murky Florida pond remained to
be seen.
Over 13 weeks in 2011 and 2012, the researchers studied three
experimental ponds that, when necessary, could be “drained
like a bathtub,” Wilson said. This would allow the researchers to
verify their population estimates at the study’s conclusion.
Each day, Wilson took a jon boat to one of the ponds and
paddled out until he came across a particularly dense patch of
Hydrilla — often thick enough to hold his boat in place — then
tossed the camera into the water. After recording for 10 minutes
and measuring dissolved oxygen with a YSI probe, Wilson hauled
the camera in and repeated the process 19 times more.
Although the sampling went relatively smoothly, Wilson said the
thick plant cover caused its share of nuisance.
“It’s like trying to parachute through the rainforest: You’re not necessarily going to reach the bottom,” Wilson said. He recalled one
attempt to improve the camera’s performance:
“We tried making a camera that would pierce the canopy like
a broadhead arrow,” Wilson said, laughing. “That didn’t work.”
With the sampling complete, the team analyzed each recording in 30-second intervals, counting the maximum number of
individuals on screen at once during that interval. Then they
compared those figures to the known population counts of each
pond. The results showed a strong positive correlation between
the on-camera counts and the actual population, indicating
that underwater video can be used to determine proportionately accurate population densities.
While video sampling could simplify fishery researchers’ jobs,
Wilson cautioned that the method is less likely to produce meaningful results in natural settings where long-term population
counts can be hard to establish.
“If you don’t know how many fish are there, if you don’t know how
they’re using the habitat, then how can you make a recommendation to the fishery managers that maintain it?” Wilson said.
Now a doctoral student at the University of Calgary, Wilson sees
video sampling as an opportunity to build relationships with the
tech-savvy anglers who especially stand to benefit from wellkept fisheries.
“Maybe we could bridge a gap between researchers and the
anglers who are using this technology already,” Wilson suggested. “We have limited staff, limited funds, so we can’t do all
this ourselves.”
Photo: Kyle Wilson
“Before the use of underwater video, you’d be trying to net fish or
use a hook and line, neither of which are very efficient methods
of sampling,” said Kyle Wilson, lead author of the study.
SondeCAM mini
The FishSens SondeCAM line of
submersible cameras helps anglers
and fishery researchers identify
underwater structures and scope
out fish habitat.
By Alex Card
What the Pros Are Saying
There is finally a camera that allows you
to view depth, temperature, and water quality
live on a high quality video feed from below
the surface.
“The SondeCAM initially started with a thru-hull camera in mind,”
said Trevin Fondriest, SondeCAM product manager. But hull cams
have limited usefulness, Fondriest said, and it didn’t take long for
a more versatile product to emerge. “It kind of just developed into
the drop cam it is now,” he said.
At the core of every SondeCAM model is a low-lux, ultra-wide
image sensor from Sony that captures visuals in sharp, clean
color. An impact- and scratch-resistant lens ensures continued
performance in a variety of underwater conditions.
All SondeCAM models connect directly to compatible on-board
fishfinders and chartplotters, displaying underwater video directly
on the top-line electronics that anglers swear by. The optional
SondeCAM in-line DVR unit records video without complicated
wiring or hardware configurations, allowing users to study fish
habitat off the water, or relive exciting encounters.
The SondeCAM camera cable incorporates high-flex coax,
power and signal conductors, abrasion-resistant polyurethane
jacket and an internal Kevlar braid for added strength. A topside
quick-connect allows the SondeCAM to be deployed and stowed
in a snap, and adapters allow the device to be freely towed
behind a boat or controlled with an attached pole.
Now you can view fish habitat and also
monitor parameters that are important to the
species you’re targeting.
Pro Walleye Fisherman
SondeCAM’s unique design, Fondriest said, makes it “a little more
expensive, but a lot more durable.” And out on the water, its reliability is going to be on anglers’ minds more than its price tag.
Whether conducting research or hunting for a lake’s sweet spot,
the SondeCAM WQ model improves upon the features of the
original SondeCAM with water quality profiling capabilities. A
precision temperature sensor offers at-depth measurements.
Users can connect a YSI dissolved oxygen or pH probe for further
functionality and swap between probes on the fly. A magnetically activated switch simplifies sensor calibration into a oneclick process.
“The Lowrance fishfinder connectivity really keeps you from
having to carry all that extra equipment on the boat,” Fondriest
The last product in the SondeCAM line is one of Fondriest’s favorites. The SondeCAM mini incorporates a small-yet-robust camera
into a truly tiny body. Unlike other similarly sized cameras, the mini
features an aluminum body just like its bigger brother, improving
stability and eliminating the need for added weights. The downward-looking video sensor and small footprint could make this
version of the SondeCAM perfect for ice fishing, Fondriest said.
Designed to provide years of service, the SondeCAM is protected
by front and rear bumpers and a marine-grade anodized aluminum body rated for depths up to 100 meters. Competing submersible camera models sacrifice durability for a slim profile,
making body damage and cable breakage a common issue.
High-quality video, convenient electronics integration and
a built-to-last design set the SondeCAM line apart from competitors. Whether you’re catching bass or researching walleye
habitat, SondeCAM will give you the view you need beneath
the boat.
Water Quality Integration
Built-in precision temperature
and depth sensors combined
with optional pH and dissolved
oxygen sensors provide video
and water quality monitoring in
a single platform.
High Quality Imaging
set of eyes above the water certainly helps when fishing,
but a view beneath the surface can provide an edge unlike
any other. The FishSens SondeCAM line of submersible cameras
achieves this by helping anglers and fishery researchers identify
underwater structures and scope out fish habitat.
All Images: FishSens Technology
The latest low-lux, ultra-wide
dynamic range camera offers
clear color visuals through an
impact- and abrasion-resistant
Built-in Connectivity
Connect directly to on-board
fishfinders and chartplotters
with simple plug-and-play
cables or record video with the
FishSens DVR.
Rugged Design
A marine-grade anodized
aluminum body stays protected
by front and rear bumpers
while remaining compact and
Made in USA
Domestic production at the
FishSens fabrication lab ensures
quality and local product
from around
the basin
John Paul Leblanc, J. Daniel Weller, Patricia Chow-Fraser, Thirty-year update:
Changes in biological characteristics of degraded muskellunge nursery habitat
in southern Georgian Bay, Lake Huron, Canada, Journal of Great Lakes Research,
Available online 18 September 2014.
A new U.S. Geological Survey Research Vessel, Kaho, was recently
christened and commissioned in Oswego Harbor on Lake Ontario.
The new boat replaces an older vessel with the same name used on
the lake since the 1970s. Officials with the USGS say the new vessel will
provide a more reliable platform for scientists and researchers to study
Lake Ontario. It is equipped with marine instruments, hydro-acoustic
systems for detecting fish, gear for taking water and contaminant
samples and wet and dry labs. The R/V Kaho, built in Cleveland, has
an aluminum hull that should lighten its weight and make it easier to
maneuver in the water. It joins four other research vessels the agency
operates on the Great Lakes. These include the Grayling, Kiyi, Muskie
and Sturgeon.
In the
A combination of dropping water levels and shoreline development appears to have ruined a set of southeastern Georgian Bay
coastal marshes as muskie nursery habitat, according to a study
from McMaster University in Ontario. In 1981, the Ontario Ministry of
Natural Resources documented 16 nursery sites in the Severn Sound
area that supported young-of-the-year muskie. When the McMaster
researchers returned to those sites in 2012 and 2013, they found absolutely none remaining. Surveys showed the plant communities have
changed significantly, with fewer of the species that young muskie
depend on for cover. More marinas, cottages and docks have been
built in the area. Development has been strongly linked to declining
muskie reproduction.
The daily vertical migration of the shrimp-like Mysis diluvia in Lake
Superior is one strand in the system-wide food web that links the seemingly separate worlds of the nearshore and offshore habitats in the
largest freshwater lake by area on the planet. A recently published
study describing these food web links in Lake Superior is one of the first
to show cross-habitat interactions in a such a large lake. They identified chemical signatures associated with the lake’s various habitats
and performed stable isotope analyses, and detected the signatures
in most organisms regardless of their habitat preference.
David Figura, “A $4.1 million USGS research boat for Lake Ontario gets christened
at Oswego Harbor,” Syracuse.com, August 6, 2014.
A study of Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach on Lake Michigan, the city’s
most popular swimming beach, shows that high concentrations of E.
coli in sand are correlated with standing water. The beach is tested
for bacteria six times a week during the summer and commonly sees
closures or swimming advisories. The research from the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee surveyed the beach’s hydrology and geophysics and found that rainfall was the main cause of the standing water.
Rain gardens installed above the beach that capture runoff also contributed to brief raises in the level of the water table, which facilitated
standing water on the beach. Erosion also appears to play a role.
Beach managers will consider the results when looking into measures
that could decrease fecal indicator bacteria concentrations across
Marcia R. Silva, et al, Effect of hydrological and geophysical factors on formation
of standing water and FIB reservoirs at a Lake Michigan beach, Journal of Great
Lakes Research, Volume 40, Issue 3, September 2014, Pages 778-789.
Michael E. Sierszen, et al. (2014) Depth gradients in food-web processes linking
habitats in large lakes: Lake Superior as an exemplar ecosystem, Freshwater
Biology, 59 (10), 2122-2136.org/10.1016/j.jglr.2014.03.015.
NASA is making research flights over Lake Erie with some of the same
equipment used to study space rocks on Mars, according to Popular
Science. The space agency is using hyperspectral imagers and mini
spectrometers to capture what’s happening in Lake Erie’s basins from
thousands of feet away. The plane carrying the instruments, NASA
Glenn Research Center’s S-3 aircraft, is making passes below the
clouds, capturing data to help local water treatment facilities prepare
for future threatening blooms. During the flights, NASA scientists say
they check existing algal blooms, sediment in the water and monitor
for developing blooms.
Sara Novak, “NASA Flies Over Lake Erie To Scan For Dangerous Algae Blooms,”
PopSci.com, September 16, 2014.
Making Waves
BY Daniel Kelly
Improve your data quality
with new equipment
ata from a new wave buoy deployed off the Marshall Islands’
Majuro Atoll is helping to keep islanders safe from high ocean
swells. It also alerts fishermen to when they need to stay off the
Trade in ANY old meter or sonde
in ANY condition for discounts
on NEW YSI instruments!
Wave forecasting is particularly difficult in the region, and researchers at the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System say the new
buoy, named “Kalo,” will also help them to inform safe transit and
recreation near the atoll. The buoy was deployed in July and is
transmitting data on wave height, wave direction, wave period
and sea temperature through satellite telemetry.
“‘Kalo’ is the name of a Marshallese bird that flies only near land,”
explained Kimball Millikan, Marine Research Engineer with PacIOOS at the University of Hawaii. “Whenever a sailor sees a kalo,
the sailor automatically knows that land is near.”
In addition to providing critical safety data for the atoll and its
residents, the buoy’s data will be used by weather forecasters and
researchers working to develop flood forecasts for Majuro. It joins
11 other buoys in the PacIOOS network that monitor conditions in
the Pacific Islands.
“All the buoys (in the network) are tethered to the bottom with an
acoustic release,” said Millikan. “This allows recovery of the complete mooring line if cut by pelagic fish, debris, entanglement or
fishermen’s lines and hooks.”
The buoy’s location not too far from shore was chosen so that it
could focus on the movement of waves traveling from the north,
south and east. It was deployed with help from islanders after
acoustic survey equipment made sure that its anchor would reach
a secure hold.
Deploying a buoy near Majuro has its challenges due to the steep,
sloping seabed, says Millikan. “But as our small vessel coughed
and sputtered to our (deployment) destination, the Marshallese
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Photo: Karl Fellenus
crew chewed their betel nut with a smile and were always eager
to help with prep,” said Millikan.
OF THE WEST By Alex Card
John Halfman
On monitoring the Finger Lakes
For example, in the warmer surface waters, you can get algal
blooms. But sometimes they don’t last more than three, four days.
So a routine weekly monitoring program would miss some of the
algal activity. Whereas if you have something sampling every day,
you’ll detect it and note it in your studies.
EM: We’ve recently learned about a large, internal wave that
sometimes develops in Lake Champlain, another long, skinny
lake with a north-south orientation. Do those waves also show
up in the Finger Lakes?
JH: There can be internal waves in all the Finger Lakes as well. The
longer and bigger the lake, the bigger the internal wave will be.
EM: Have the buoy data captured that?
John Halfman: All the Finger Lakes have glacial origins, which
make them very long and skinny and — especially Seneca Lake
— very, very deep. Because there’s such huge volume and small
surface area, it’s really hard to freeze these lakes unless things are
really cold. Even last winter didn’t freeze Seneca Lake. Last winter
was pretty cold.
EM: You’ve had a water quality profiling buoy on Seneca Lake
since 2006. What brought that project on?
JH: If you have the time and the patience, going out on the lake
once a week is probably about as frequent as you can during the
spring, summer and fall seasons. Having a buoy out there, you can
actually collect water quality information two times or three times
or four times a day. You can get out there much more frequently
and see things I would miss by going out by boat and sampling
that way.
racked by drought for the third consecutive year, California agriculturalists and water managers are increasingly
tapping into the state’s diminishing groundwater supply to meet
needs. But this activity is placing additional stress on the volatile San Andreas Fault and causing the nearby Sierra Nevada
mountains to grow.
The buoy also collects meteorological information so that you can
look at some of the forcing functions as far as the air is involved in
some of the wave processes that we see.The seiche activity needs
a really strong southerly wind or a really strong northerly wind to
set it up. Otherwise there won’t be any tilting of the thermocline.
As California drains groundwater from the San Joaquin Valley
aquifer, the floor of the entire Central Valley sinks. Known as
sediment compaction or subsidence, this geological effect has
been researched for decades. A new study, published in Nature,
shows that this process is also responsible for other, potentially
problematic phenomena.
EM: The Finger Lakes Institute has recently launched another buoy
on Owasco Lake, the sixth-largest Finger Lake. What’s the goal
Researchers from the University of Ottawa; University of California, Berkeley; Western Washington University and the University
of Nevada, Reno, conducted the study using a series of models
to understand what groundwater loss might have on the vertical
motion of the Earth’s crust. The scientists confirmed their suspicions: pumping groundwater from the Central Valley is causing
the region’s floor to rise and fall.
JH: I’ve been involved in nutrient loading studies in the Owasco
watershed and the goal is basically to detect any changes in
water quality over time.This is the first year, so I can’t say there have
been any year-to-year changes yet, but hopefully after five or 10
years down the road we will be able to see the lake change one
way or the other, and hopefully for the better.
All the watershed stuff I’ve been doing around that lake has been
looking for sources for primarily phosphorous getting into the lake.
Because if we can turn off those phosphorous sources, then we
have a really good chance of letting that lake get more and more
A statewide network of GPS stations, capable of tracking vertical
movement down to the millimeter, provided data for the study’s
models. The University NAVSTAR Consortium installed the stations
to monitor seismic activity at the San Andreas Fault.
Environmental Monitor: What’s going on with the Finger Lakes
that makes them unique?
JH: If you look at the temperature record in particular, you’ll notice
that the boundary between the warm surface water and the cold
bottom water bounces up and down and up and down. That
bounce up and down is the internal seiche.
Photo: Finger Lakes Times
John Halfman has been studying the Finger Lakes in New York
for two decades. He’s a professor of geolimnology and hydrogeochemistry at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where
he also helped develop the Finger Lakes Institute. His work
there includes running a weekly monitoring program that
began collecting data on the Seneca Lake and several tributaries in the 1990s. The data reveals trends that are moving
in unhealthy directions, showing a lake growing more turbid.
The causes are familiar: Runoff from rain events bring in suspended sediments and algae-fueling nutrients.
“We observed that around the Central Valley of California, the
GPS stations show an uplift of about one to three millimeters
per year,” said Pascal Audet, professor of geophysics at the University of Ottawa. “We noticed that this also coincides with the
region where groundwater is being pumped for irrigation.”
“The fact that human activity can actually produce motions of
the Earth’s crust is something that is quite an eye opener,” Audet
said. “We were quite surprised that such a continuous effect
could be seen in the rock record.”
The elastic response of the Earth’s crust explains the growth of
the Sierra Nevada. The vast volume of water stored in the San
Joaquin aquifer weighs heavily on the crust, forcing it downward.
As that water is pumped out of the ground, it lessens the load on
the crust, allowing it to rise again. Winter rains reverse the process
to some degree, leading to further fluctuations.
Over the past century and a half, the Sierra Nevada has grown by
about a half-foot, while the same activity has caused the Central
Valley floor to sink several meters over only a few decades.
More pumping near the fault could lead to greater seasonal
fluctuations, raising the risk of small earthquakes in the area. In
seismically sensitive areas, even a small quake could act as a
catalyst for a much larger, more destructive event.
“It’s obvious that if we take more groundwater out it’s going to
have a major effect on the San Andreas Fault,” Audet said. But
the study’s implications reach far beyond California. Audet
said that “any sort of resource extraction could produce similar
In addition to further monitoring of the Central Valley region,
Audet said that the next step for the researchers might involve
observing the phenomenon in other parts of the world, such as
northern India where huge agricultural operations could exhibit
similar groundwater use characteristics.
“It’s hard to tell what effect this is going to have,” Audet said of the
study’s findings. “It certainly adds to a long list of things that policy
makers need to take into consideration… especially in periods of
drought where there’s a lot more stress on the aquifer.”
Keecker Home Robot
Edyn Garden Sensor
It looks like an egg, moves like a Roomba and can do pretty much anything you ask
of it. The Keecker is a robot that combines home monitoring with home entertainment,
available for a tidy sum of $4,000, Yahoo Tech reported.
A new garden sensor looks to make planting and growing food easier and more precise,
according to CNET. It combines with a water valve to monitor soil and air quality near
plants to water them as needed.
Developed by Pierre Lebeau, the Keecker can measure temperature, carbon dioxide,
humidity, air quality and noise as it zips around a house, memorizing the floorplan. Its
360-degree camera can serve as a webcam or a motion detector. A smartphone app
puts the Keecker’s owner in control of it — though it’s just as happy to navigate on its
own — and offers remote monitoring of the user’s home from anywhere in the world.
The devices were developed by Edyn, a startup company that wants to make gardening
more enjoyable for the average person. In line with that mission, the company has tried
to make the sensor and water valve precise enough for professionals but simple enough
to use for amateurs.
An accompanying smartphone app puts control of the system at users’ fingertips. It allows for checking current soil moisture, temperature and pH, as well as suggesting plants
that thrive in differing soil types.
Not content to just be a home-monitoring automaton, the Keecker can also project
— in 360 degrees, no less — video from a smart device or computer on any surface,
stream and play music, and learn to perform any of its functions in a particular room
by voice command. Built on the Android operating system, the Keecker can run any
Android app available on a smartphone or tablet. The Keecker can operate for several
days on a single charge, after which it automatically returns to its base station to
The sensor-valve combo is the product of a Kickstarter campaign that successfully
reached its funding goal in early July. For a donation of $100, those contributing to its
development will receive a device from one of the company’s first production runs. Representatives from Edyn plan to fulfill those orders before making devices available to the
general public. The first delivery dates are estimated for March 2015.
A Kickstarter campaign funding the Keecker had received over $200,000 in pledges as
of the end of October. The campaign ends on Nov. 18, and any supporter contributing
$1,990 or more will receive one of the first Keecker models in April 2015.
Autonomous underwater vehicles only operate on their own after they’ve been programmed, following the plan and survey course they’ve been given. This is good for
monitoring and data collection, but existing AUVs are less ideal for locating items lost
Inspired by fax modems and blood-glucose meters, Harvard University researchers
have developed a new handheld electrochemical detector that could potentially
bring the benefits of reliable chemical analysis technology and expertise to billions of
people around the world.
Researchers at Michigan Technological University are working to solve that problem
by developing gliders that operate more independently and are capable of knowing
what their search target is. If the new AUVs work well, scientists and disaster-response
teams could use them to pinpoint the locations of pipelines, cables or sunken vessels
more quickly than is possible today.
Nina Mahmoudian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan
Tech, has spearheaded the gliders’ design. Along with graduate and undergraduate
students from her lab, she is getting ready to test gliders named with the acronym
ROUGHIE, for Research Oriented Underwater Glider for Hands-on Investigative Engineering.
Key to making the devices capable of searching underwater environments on their
own is an integrated navigation sensor system that allows them to use situationally
aware search algorithms. The team is working out the kinks with a functional prototype
before building a fleet of four. With the gliders’ advanced tech, they’re still aiming to
keep costs down to about $10,000 each.
Photo: (top) Edyn; (bottom) Alex Nemiroski
uMED Electrochemical Detector
Photo: (top) Keecker; (bottom) Sarah Bird / Michigan Tech
The universal mobile electrochemical detector, or uMED, is compatible with a number
of electrodes and test strips, and can detect thousands of chemicals. This versatility
combined with a low price tag make the device ideal for in-field agricultural and environmental monitoring, and initial trials that detected heavy metals in water samples
showcase its capability for water quality applications.
The most unique feature of the uMED, however, is its ability to transmit analysis data to
the cloud through any cellular phone or network. Much like a fax machine, the uMED
converts digital data through a headphone jack into a series of tones that transmit
via cellular voice channels, eliminating the need for smartphones or high-speed data
connections — an important factor with nearly 3 billion people still using low-end
phones on 2G networks. Scientific and medical professionals can then aid in data
analysis remotely.
Built off the inexpensive Arduino microcontroller board, the uMED costs about $25 to
manufacture. The researchers are working with partners at home and in India to conduct field tests and develop the uMED as a commercial product.
RENTAL equipment for any project
Fast Delivery . Reliable performance . quality data
FonDriest service & repair
Quality data can be directly correlated to the condition
of your monitoring equipment. Instrument check-up,
characterization, and certification by a factory-authorized
service center are recommended on a regular basis to
help ensure data accuracy and maximize the instrument’s
usable life.
Water Clarity
1. Instead of removing samples, sensors can be used
4. Turbidity can inhibit photosynthesis by blocking
7. Microbeads, effluent and other
affect water clarity
8. Black and white disc used to measure visual clarity
12. Loss of light intensity between source and light detector
13. The further sunlight can reach underwater, the better the
14. TSS can be affected by organic material like bacteria or
15. Measure of clarity or cloudiness of water
2. Method of measuring turbidity by light scatter at 90°
3. Units for a turbidimeter with a monochrome/near-IR light source
5. High levels of TSS can
water temperature
6. CDOM affects turbidity, but not
9. Jackson
method measured visible light through a tube
10. Your source for precision turbidity meters and sensors
11. Particles under 2 microns are considered
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when your
quality data
Fondriest Environmental, Inc.
2091 Exchange Court
Fairborn, OH 45324
P 888.426.2151
F 937.426.1125
E [email protected]
University of
and Buffalo Pound
Water Treatment Plant
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