Spring 2020 eNewsletter

Featured Research: CIGLR Research Continues to Support NOAA’s Mission; Begins Phased Return to Critical Fieldwork

A suite of safety protocols are in place and critical Great Lakes sampling has started. Photo Credit: NOAA GLERL and CIGLR.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, universities and government agencies have been doing their best to prevent severe disruptions to Great Lakes research. With a suite of safety protocols receiving clearance within NOAA, CIGLR and NOAA GLERL have resumed limited field and laboratory operations to ensure that critical Great Lakes research continues to serve the stakeholders that rely on our products and services.

Dr. Casey Godwin, CIGLR’s Ecosystem Dynamics Theme Lead says, “Each summer season, scientists at CIGLR at NOAA GLERL head out to monitor harmful algal blooms (HABs) in the western portion of Lake Erie. As the state of Michigan emerges from the stay-at-home order and we head into the summer HABs season, we resumed this mission to provide up-to-date information on HAB toxin concentrations and other parameters to stakeholders. But like all aspects of life and society, this HABs monitoring is radically different than past years. It still requires a highly-trained team of staff and researchers, but this year the team is limited to the bare minimum number of individuals who are decked out in masks and protective equipment, spread out across different rooms, and only see each other at virtual meetings. Despite these important precautions and major changes to how we work, the team has done a great job preparing for the HAB season and accomplishing this critical work.”

To get the latest data from the HAB monitoring, check out the HABs research section of the CIGLR and NOAA GLERL webpages.

As for CIGLR’s hydrometeorological modeling team, Dr. Ayumi Fujisaki-Manome, Modeling & Forecasting Theme Lead says, “We continue to support advancing weather, flood, and ice forecasting systems for the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, and the Arctic Ocean from our home offices. We are able to support and deliver near real-time and retrospective satellite observations through the NOAA CoastWatch Great Lakes node. The current situation caused by COVID-19 has posed uncertainties in navigating our daily research activities. We deeply thank the professionals at the high performance computing facilities at NOAA GLERL and University of Michigan, which continue to deliver their critical services during this challenging situation. Thanks to them, we have continuous access to these computing facilities that keep our work going. Important achievements during the past several months include expansion of real-time nowcast/forecast of water levels and currents in Lake Champlain based on the Finite Volume Community Ocean Model, initiation of real-time sea ice nowcast/forecast for the Alaska’s coasts based on the Los Alamos Sea Ice Model, improvements in the hypoxia forecast model in Lake Erie, and skill assessment of the hydrologic model based on WRF-Hydro over multiple watersheds across the Midwest. The dedication of our team is second to none and we will continue to jump any hurdles that come our way.”

Russ Miller, Observing Systems Theme Lead says, “When Michigan’s stay-at-home order was implented, we were about 4 weeks from our first planned deployments. But, we’ve been able to make major adjustments to make good use of time. Instrument and buoy preparation has continued from home-offices, basements and garages. We’ve updated the firmware in the buoys for better reliability and made detailed plans to get the buoys into the lakes with minimal exposure for the lab and boat crews. Another challenge we overcame was the deployment of our larger GLOS (Great Lakes Observing System) buoy. This buoy requires a large vessel and too much boat time to deploy at this stage, so we’ve purchased a smaller buoy that can be deployed easily with local stakeholders. It will provide important wave and water temperature measurements. We are currently preparing glider deployments for Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, and catching up on publishing data which is sometimes pushed aside when the field season is in full swing. Our team is very eager to get to the field and start collecting and sharing real-time data.”

CIGLR is optimistic for the future and we look forward to sharing more Great Lakes research updates on social media, our website, and future newsletters.