Great Lakes Research Center - Cabled Observatory

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (10)
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Why This Project Is Important 

The Great Lakes contain over 80% of the surface freshwater of North America. When ice breaks up after long cold winters, things have dramatically changed in these lakes. Our goal is to collect data and observe what is happening under the ice during the winter months. 


Project Description 

The Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), located on the Portage waterway that connects two parts of Lake Superior, draws together experts addressing the complex issues of freshwater. However, not much study has been conducted under the ice when the lake freezes over.


From repurposed instruments, scientists built and deployed a cabled observatory under the ice off the research center's dock. This observatory is mounted on the bottom of the waterway, 17 feet below the surface. The cable observatory is a collection of instruments including an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP); a YSI mulitprobe that measures nine water quality parameters such as the temperature, amount of dissolved oxygen, pH, and water turbidity or cloudiness; and a live, lighted color videocam. The instruments are connected to shore by an underwater cable that feeds power to the equipment and transmits data back to the scientists for analysis. 


This cabled observatory gives us an underwater interface that can be used year-round and is allowing us to study under a cover of ice. We know a lot about the biology, chemistry and physics of the lakes in summer and fall, but when the ice breaks up in spring, things have changed dramatically. This will help us know what went on over the winter and better understand the processes that are going on deep under the ice, to complete that circle of knowledge.


Our goal is to build a bigger observatory and monitor all of the Great Lakes.


  **The GLRC’s under-ice observatory is collecting data for scientists to analyze, but the public is welcome to watch as well.  There are links on the GLRC website to GLRC webcams and the live video from below the surface. In addition, the mast from one of the research center’s summer buoys has been mounted on the GLRC roof to collect winter weather data.

Meet the Researchers

Guy Meadows

Upon graduation from Purdue University in 1977, Guy Meadows joined the faculty of the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, where he served as Professor of Physical Oceanography for 35 years. During his tenure, he served the College and University as Director of the Ocean Engineering Laboratory, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (NOAA, Joint Institute), Director of the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories and founding Academic Director of the M-STEM Academy. He joined Michigan Tech in June of 2012, to help establish the new Great Lakes Research Center. His primary goal, to blend scientific understanding and technological advancements into environmentally sound engineering solutions for the marine environment, through teaching, research and service.

His teaching reaches beyond the University setting to less formal environments, and includes five nationally televised documentaries for the History and Discovery Channels. His primary research interests are in geophysical fluid dynamics with emphasis on environmental forecasting and full-scale, Great Lakes and coastal ocean experimental hydrodynamics. In this arena, he has influenced policy and explored societal impacts of environmental forecasting for...

Jackie Gebhardt

Certified Project Management Professional

Elizabeth Hoy

Working with a team of crazy-smart students, researchers and marine technicians, the staff at the Great Lakes Research Center are helping to advance research, education, and outreach across the Great Lakes and coastal oceans.

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of $15,000 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $1700
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Purchase equipment and supplies to build a bigger observatory
Although there are no rewards for this project, all donors will receive an email receipt with tax-deduction information.

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