Shelburne Pond: a study in progress

Lisa Borre at Shelburne Pond this summer. Courtesy photo
Lisa Borre at Shelburne Pond this summer. Courtesy photo

Lisa Borre came all the way from Annapolis, MD to visit Vermont with a University of Vermont college friend who had rented a house on Lake Champlain for the 4th of July holiday. Her friend, Dr. Jason Stockwell, director of the Rubenstein Ecosystem Laboratory at UVM, arranged for her to join his research team for a water quality sampling run on Shelburne Pond on July 7.

Borre works for the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, and along with Dr. Stockwell, she is a member of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON). She is also a contributor to National Geographic’s Water Currents blog. She wrote about Shelburne Pond last year and was interested in seeing the new research buoy UVM has installed on the lake, which is now part of GLEON’s global network of lake research.

We spoke with Borre on July 16.

Q: Why Shelburne Pond?

Lisa Borre: I studied Shelburne Pond as an undergraduate in the Geology Department at UVM 30 years ago. I’m still involved in lake research and advocating for the restoration of lakes around the world, but because of my earlier work here, this particular lake holds special meaning for me.

From a research perspective, Shelburne Pond is an ideal study site because it’s close to the UVM campus and has a long history of scientific research. The small lake system also suffers from similar water quality problems as other lakes, including Missisquoi Bay on nearby Lake Champlain, which allows for interesting comparative studies. Dr. Stockwell has initiated a new era of research on the lake that is part of GLEON’s global effort to understand lake ecosystems.

You might be interested to read an article I wrote last year for National Geographic’s Water Currents blog about the significance of Shelburne Pond for me personally and for global lake research in general.

Q: What do the #2015SecchiDipin and #LakeObserver hashtags on Twitter represent, and what are these conversations about?

LB: The Secchi Dip-in is an annual citizen science and data gathering event organized by the North American Lake Management Society as part of Lakes Appreciation month in July. A Secchi disk is a circular, black and white disk, used for measuring water transparency. It’s a simple method for measuring water quality that is used by researchers all over the world.

I’m working with a team of GLEON members who are developing a mobile app called Lake Observer. The app is designed for research scientists and citizen scientists to record lake and water quality observations while working in the field. The app is undergoing testing this summer.

When I was on Shelburne Pond, I was testing GLEON’s Lake Observer app by using it to record a Secchi depth measurement as part of the NALMS Secchi Dip-in event, hence the photo and conversation on Twitter.

Q: What is The Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network?

LB: The Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) is a global network of scientists, educators, policy makers, and citizens invested in the future of fresh waters. GLEON conducts innovative science by sharing and interpreting high-resolution sensor data and engaging citizen scientists to understand, predict and communicate the role and response of lakes in a changing global environment. GLEON’s grassroots network has more than 500 members working on lakes in more than 50 countries.

Q: What did you find at Shelburne Pond?

LB: It was a windy day with choppy waves on the lake. We found that the research buoy was functioning properly and automatically sending data from the various sensors directly to the lab at the UVM Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. As is typical for Shelburne Pond at this time of year, an algae bloom was underway on the lake. We measured a Secchi depth of less than 0.5 meters, which is indicative of poor water quality caused by the high concentration of algae near the surface of the lake.

Visitors to Shelburne Pond may notice the buoy with solar panels mounted on it in the northwestern part of the lake. They can view the data at www.uvm.edu/vmc/project/shelburne-pond-buoy.

 

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