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Concurrent Sessions - Session B

Continuous Data Monitoring: Opportunities and Challenges

Some PowerPoint presentations are available for download. Please click on session presentation titles below to access the download link.

Session Chair:
Linda Bacon, Maine Department of Environmental Protection


As technology advances, so does the sophistication of water monitoring devices.  ‘Snapshot’ approaches to monitoring are being replaced by continuous or near-continuous monitoring possibilities.  Papers submitted for this session highlight devices being used in lakes, collaborations with lake associations to establish continuous monitoring stations, insights continuous data have revealed, and challenges involved with this approach.  The final slot will be a panel discussion including the speakers, others having similar monitoring experience and the audience focusing on the challenges of managing and analyzing extremely large datasets and cost-benefit of moving to the collection of continuous data.

Session Presentations:


Understanding Intra-Lake Temperature Variability and Heat Flux; How Technology is changing what We Observe and Understand
PowerPoint presentation available for download.

Dan Buckley

Division of Natural Sciences, University of Maine at Farmington, Farmington, ME;

In the thirty years prior to the current millennium the vast majority of lake temperature data collected by working professionals or citizen scientists was in the form of point-in-time measurements associated with either dissolved oxygen profiles or possibly surface water temperatures using min/max thermometers.  While this type of data collected by early limnologists such as Birge and Juday  (1929) and later Hutchinson (1957) was the foundation of our understanding of lake thermal stratification and seasonal temperature patterns, the relative paucity of data from such techniques has led to an incomplete picture of lake thermal dynamics. The comparatively recent advent of inexpensive logging thermistors such as Hobo Pendent Data Loggers has allowed us to examine daily, seasonal and long-term variability in lake temperatures in a way never before possible.  The near continuous nuanced data supplied by this technology has provided surprises and increased understanding of temperature fluctuations within lakes along with some of the factors influencing them.  Data and some preliminary analyses will be presented on seasonal lake thermal response and temperature variability, in response to meteorological factors, logger position and lake characteristics for several Maine Lakes.

Birge, E.A and C. Juday. 1929. Transmission of Solar Radiation by Waters of the Inland Lakes.  Transaction of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.  24:509-580.

Hutchinson, G. E. 1957. A Treatise on Limnology, Vol. 1: Geography, Physics and Chemistry. Wiley and Sons, New York

“Goldie” the Great Pond Sentinel. Using an automated sampling buoy to monitor water quality of Great Pond
PowerPoint presentation available for download.

D. Whitney King1, Denise Bruesewitz2

  1. Department of Chemistry, Colby College, Waterville, ME;
  2. Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, ME

In April 2013 we deployed the automated sampling buoy, “Goldie”, in the deepest point of Great Pond, Belgrade Lakes, Maine. Built by Nexsens Technology, the buoy is a highly capable platform for limnology research; equipped with a suite of sensors for measuring water temperature, PAR, dissolved oxygen concentration  (surface and bottom), and fluorescence. The buoy is powered by 15-watt solar panels and communicates to our labs at Colby using a dedicated cell phone.

We will discuss the buoy design process, costs, operation logistics, and lessons learned from over 150 days of continuous monitoring of Great Pond. The data collected on Great Pond is available to a worldwide community of lake researchers as part of Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network ( and is streamed live to local stakeholders at Real time data increases stakeholder visits to our web pages. We are actively working with lake residents to determine what display formats on the live feeds are most helpful in communicating the geology, chemistry, and biology of the lake and how lake BioGeoChemistry defines lake water quality.

Lake Sunapee on ice: Lessons from coupling citizen science and high-frequency buoy data

Denise Bruesewitz1, Cayelan Carey2, David Richardson3, Kathie Weathers4

  1. Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, ME;
  2. Department of Biological Sciences, Virgina Tech, Blacksburg, VA
  3. Department of Biological Sciences, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, NY
  4. Cary Institute, Millbrook, New York

Temperate lakes all over the globe have documented declines in seasonal ice cover, including Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire. A long-term citizen science monitoring record starting in 1869 shows that ice cover in Lake Sunapee is declining (R2=0.15, p<0.001). Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) built, deployed and continues to maintain a high-frequency monitoring buoy on Lake Sunapee. During the 2007-2008 winter, the buoy was frozen into the water, capturing under ice dynamics including both the ice on and ice off transitions. We collected temperature data from 10 nodes throughout the 15m water column to examine changes in lake thermal profiles and stability. This unique dataset shows that large lakes are dynamic under the ice, with three distinct phases of under ice dynamics characterized by differences in Schmidt’s stability, temperature profiles, and different scales of variation. Additionally, this analysis shows that ‘ice on’ and ‘ice off’ do not occur on the scale of a day, rather these events occur over a period of several weeks. This unique dataset could not have been collected without the interest and commitment of local citizen scientists. Characterizing under ice dynamics is critical to understanding how declining periods of ice cover may influence lake ecosystems.

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