The PI's request funding to acquire two Autonomous Moored Profilers, and a suite of sensors for each platform, for deployment in Lake Superior, the world?s largest freshwater lake by area. The requested instrumentation will provide physical, biological, and chemical data on timescales relevant to biogeochemical processes, and will expand this detailed view into the winter season, for which existing data is extremely sparse due to the variable ice cover in this region, which is not stable enough for ice-based observations but is sufficiently robust to preclude work on any of the available research vessels in the region. The use of two autonomous moored profilers will allow the PI's to detail the importance of biogeochemical processes in nearshore vs offshore regimes.

Broader Impacts:

The University of Minnesota-Duluth has a strong commitment to undergraduate education, being its principal focus. The Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) combines that with an excellent track record in research. The study will expand our knowledge of the intricacies of the inner workings of large lakes. The close integration of project research with education will most certainly enhance experience for students both undergraduates and graduates and inform the public. This is a new and potentially valuable application for a relatively new and unproven class of profiler that has a high probability of success and contributing to the testing and demonstration of this emerging class of profilers has high value to the research community.

Project Report

This grant was awarded to acquire a pair of autonomous moored profilers. Most sampling of lake properties goes on either from the deck of a boat, which can be very expensive, or from instruments left in the water for an extended period of time, which limits the types of things we can measure- right now, only temperature and currents are feasible to measure in this fashion. To fill in this gap in our knowledge, these profilers are heavily instrumented platforms which have a built in winch. They spend most of their time close to the bottom of the lake, but periodically ascend through the water column, collecting data on a wide range of properties, such as temperature, chlorophyll content, water clarity, oxygen content, currents, etc. they have the option of coming to the surface and communicating with us back in the lab, or can stay submerged for extended periods of time. Currently one of our profilers is deployed on a six-month mission to explore conditions throughout the winter and below the ice. These profilers will allow us to have a continuous presence in the lake, during times when we would not normally be able to work from a boat, such as rough conditions or during periods of ice cover. These new datasets will allow us to learn about a wide variety of processes in lakes that scientists have never had the capability to address before.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Kandace S. Binkley
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University of Minnesota Duluth
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