Spring 2022 eNewsletter

Spotlight: CIGLR Research Institute’s David Cannon Discusses the Great Lakes Earth System Model (GLESM)

David Cannon is a Postdoctoral Fellow assisting in the ongoing development of the Great Lakes Earth System Model (GLESM), with scientists at CIGLR and NOAA GLERL. One of the primary goals of the GLESM project is to improve lake and atmospheric model simulations in the Great Lakes, with applications in ecosystem modeling, invasive species monitoring, and coastal hazard prediction. The project is also designed to improve simulations of climate change and climate variability throughout the region, providing support for sustainable economic development and resource management. 

David is currently investigating historical changes in subsurface thermal structure in the Great Lakes using a coupled ice-lake model (FVCOM-ice) developed under GLESM. Although there is considerable evidence for lake surface warming and ice cover loss in response to climate change, changes in subsurface thermal structure remain largely unexplored, especially at the lakewide scale.

“Studying how lakes are changing below the surface is essential for understanding the full effects of climate change,” says Cannon. “Shifts in thermal structure can have cascading effects on ecosystem functions, with changes in stratification leading to modifications in vertical mixing, primary production, and nutrient cycling. My goal is to determine how subsurface conditions have changed over the last several decades and to predict how things will continue to change in the future.”

While David is more experienced collecting and analyzing observational data, he appreciates the range and flexibility afforded by hydrodynamic models. “Although there’s no substitute for observational data, hydrodynamic modelling provides a method to “fill in the gaps” left by spatially and temporally irregular sampling records,” says Cannon. “I’ll always love being in the field, but working with the GLESM team has given me a new appreciation for the utility of numerical models. Some of the most experienced modellers in the Great Lakes work for CIGLR and GLERL, and their support has been an incredible resource as I develop these new skillsets.”

Preparing for a day of field work on the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee’s RV Neeskay outside Milwaukee, WI in Lake Michigan. Photo Credit: David Cannon.

Towing a meteorological buoy outside of Michigan City, IN in Lake Michigan. Photo Credit: David Cannon.

Retrieving the anchor for a meteorological buoy at the end of the deployment season (November) outside Chicago, IL, in Lake Michigan. Photo Credit: David Cannon.

Performing off-season maintenance on a meteorological buoy at Purdue University. Photo Credit: David Cannon.

Preparing to collect hypolimnetic microstructure profiles within Lake Michigan. Photo Credit: David Cannon.