Spring 2018 eNewsletter

Spring CIGLR Announcements

Welcome CIGLR Assistant Research Scientist, Dr. Casey Godwin

CIGLR is pleased to announce the hire of Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Casey Godwin. Casey has a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and behavior from the University of Minnesota. His research focuses on how the elemental requirements of bacteria and algae impact carbon and nutrient cycles in freshwater ecosystems. He has examined this theme in the context of stream algae as bio-indicators, functional diversity of freshwater bacteria, molecular responses of seston to phosphorus in Lake Superior, and most recently, the sustainable production of renewable fuels from algae. As part of CIGLR, he will be working on projects related to harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.

Casey joins the CIGLR team as our sixth Research Scientist and we are ecstatic to bring him in to our research program. Please feel free to reach out to Casey with your own warm welcome, cgodwin@umich.edu.



CIGLR Awards Rapid Funding for Meteotsunami Research and Detection

The recent occurrences of a meteotsunami event on Lake Michigan, including a 14 inch water level rise in only 40 minutes near Ludington, MI on April 13, 2018 (MLive), demonstrated that the existing network of buoys and weather stations is not adequate to observe or attempt to predict this phenomenon. Meteotsunamis have the potential to cause significant damage to shoreline structures and can endanger lives.  A more robust monitoring and alert system is needed on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie to monitor, detect, and mitigate the impact of future events.

Following the meteotsunami event in Ludington, CIGLR awarded $9,900 in Rapid funds to our partners at LimnoTech, led by Ed Verhamme, who will work with Dr. Philip Chu at NOAA GLERL to develop a system that detects and ultimately predicts meteotsunamis on the Great Lakes. The Rapid funds will be used to supplement ongoing efforts to develop a monitoring and notification system for atmospherically significant events that could lead to meteotsunamis. The project team identified two critical needs for creating a meteotsunami network: (1) develop a data management system to log, archive, and display relevant meteorological (wind speed, direction and air pressure) and water level data from existing and new stations; (2) Upgrade the existing observing system reporting frequency and add up to four new stations. Both tasks will focus on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie as those two lakes have higher meteotsunami occurrence and resulting impacts to life and property.

LimnoTech is also receiving a $2,000 CIGLR ECO award to educate the public about the risks of meteotsunamis and the new sensor monitoring network.

CIGLR provides short-term Rapid funds for Regional Consortium partners to form an initial response to an emergency or time-sensitive need in the Great Lakes. Rapid funds provide the seed funding researchers need to be first-responders in the Great Lakes, even as they solicit more substantial funds from an appropriate agency or organization. Individuals at partner institutions that are interested in Rapid or ECO funds should contact CIGLR Director Brad Cardinale, bradcard@umich.edu.

CIGLR Co-hosts the 4th Annual ELPC Science-Policy Confluence Conference

On May 1-2, 2018 more than 60 scientists and policymakers convened to discuss “Great Lakes Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs): Science-based Policy Solutions” on the University of Michigan campus. CIGLR partnered with the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) to bring together scientists and policymakers with differing expertise to learn from each other, discover how their work may be complementary, and find potential collaborations to develop science-based policy solutions for HABs in the Great Lakes.

In addition to expert scientists from universities, NGOs, and government agencies, featured speakers included U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, City of Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, and Consul General of Canada Douglas George. Other invited speakers spoke about the state of scientific understanding of HABs, human health implications, cultural impacts, potential solutions, and lessons learned from the Chesapeake Bay, another area plagued by HABs.

Based on the outcomes of the conference, plans are in motion for a smaller working group to focus on identifying the sources of nutrient pollution that promote HABs and science-based policy solutions to prevent them.

2018 CIGLR Summit Series

CIGLR is in our third year of hosting Summits and Working Groups focused on identifying the most pressing research and management needs to achieve sustainability in the Great Lakes. We are pleased to welcome two summits to the University of Michigan this summer and look forward to their contributions to Great Lakes sustainability.

Revisiting the Prescription: Identifying Conceptual Frameworks to Aid in Approaches to Restoring and Protecting the Great Lakes

We are kicking off the 2018 summit series by revisiting an earlier whitepaper, Prescription for Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection and Restoration-Avoiding the Tipping Point of Irreversible Changes (J. Bails and others 2005), which has been used by NGOs and the management community to prioritize restoration projects. In light of new information on Great Lakes stresses and responses over the last decade, there is a need for an in-depth exploration of the approaches used to address stress in the region, and identify additional research needed to support restoration and protection efforts.

From June 27-29, twenty-two natural scientists, social scientists, program managers, and policy specialists will gather at the University of Michigan to lay the groundwork for identifying a conceptual framework for relating human-caused stresses to responses in the Great Lakes, with particular focus on potential management interventions to reduce the stresses.

The summit is being led by Dr. Michael Murray at the National Wildlife Federation – Great Lakes Regional Center. Summit steering committee members include:

David Allan, University of Michigan
John Bratton, LimnoTech
Jan Ciborowski, University of Windsor
Lucinda Johnson, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Alan Steinman, Grand Valley State University
Craig Stow, NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Improving Nutrient-Loading/Algal-Growth Modeling through a Watershed-Scale Approach that Emphasizes Soil Health & Upland Farming Practices

CIGLR will host a second summit from July 16-18 at the University of Michigan to focus on improving predictive models for harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lakes Erie and Huron (Saginaw Bay). Current predictive models have enhanced the scientific community’s ability to assess the water quality benefits of adopting specific agricultural land management practices, but they are generally limited to the most common or widely recommended techniques for curbing nutrient runoff. The environmental benefits of newer strategies that involve improving soil health as an alternative means to address HABs are not included in current models, making it difficult to make the case to farmers, policymakers, and regulators that soil-health strategies represent a potential win-win solution.

This summit will convene twenty leading academic researchers, federal scientists, agricultural stakeholders, and environmental/conservation advocates to improve HABs predictive models through watershed-level approaches that incorporate a range of soil-health measures and adoption of soil-health best management practices.

Tom Zimnicki and Brad Garmon are leading the summit from the Michigan Environmental Council. Summit steering committee members include:

Craig Stow, NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Mark Rowe, CIGLR
Robyn Wilson, Ohio State University