Underwater vehicles launching at Sodus Point

Two autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) are launching on Lake Ontario this week at Sodus Point, Oswego, Rochester and Oak Orchard, NY. The high-tech, remote-controlled equipment will produce intensive data for analysis of nearshore-offshore interactions, fish productivity in Lake Ontario, changes to the lower food web, and algal abundance. The research will also focus on how the thermal bar – a seasonal/spring temperature barrier – impacts nutrients in nearshore aquatic environment. This AUV visit to Lake Ontario is made available through the Great Lakes Observing System with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2, New York’s Great Lakes Research Consortium (GLRC) member schools, i.e., SUNY Colleges at Brockport and Oswego and the College of Environment Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse NY; and New York Sea Grant. This 2013 research on Lake Ontario is part of the Cooperative Science Monitoring Initiative (CMSI) between the US and Canada called for under the Clean Water Act of 1972. The CSMI cycles its intensive monitoring activities through the five Great Lakes, one lake per year for every five years. “The Great Lakes system forms a unique ecosystem, natural environment, economic engine, recreational resource, and public water supply. The evolution of technology greatly facilitates the scientific study of the dynamics of the individual lakes and the Great Lakes Basin in its entirety. This first-time underwater research on Lake Ontario provides the opportunity to synthesize intense biological, chemical, geological, and other data for use by multiple stakeholder groups from natural resource and fisheries managers to marina operators and angler associations,” said Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White with New York Sea Grant at SUNY Oswego. “The autonomous underwater vehicles represent the next wave in environmental sampling of our Great Lakes. No longer do we need to put two people in a boat and send them out for a day putting instruments in and out of the water. We can program these AUVs to leave from shore, go out, travel up and down in the water column, collecting thousands of data points, and then return home,” said research leader Dr. Gregory L. Boyer, chair of the SUNY ESF Department of Chemistry and director of Great Lakes Research Consortium. “The units we are deploying in Lake Ontario in 2013 are designed for nearshore work, but we also have access to ‘gliders’ that can go out for weeks to a month at a time. It is truly an exciting time to be a Great Lakes researcher,” Boyer added. Boyer is a biochemist whose work focuses on the chemistry and ecology of freshwater ad marine harmful algal blooms, rapid detection methods for the toxins produces by these organisms, and the impact of blue-green algal blooms on the recreational use of the Great Lakes and other waters. New York Sea Grant has provided funding for several research projects by Boyer, including a current project on algal bloom in Sodus Bay. More Info:The 42-pound, 6.5-feet long, torpedo-like Iver2-580 AUV-EP42 has side scan sonar, multiple sensor payloads, 10 Beam Doppler Velocity Log for bottom tracking, and EcoMapper technology for high-resolution water quality monitoring.The AUV generates data to computer chip, including 3-dimensional survey maps on such factors as temperature, turbidity, depths, pH, current, video images, oxygen levels, phosphorus/etc. levels, conductivity, and more. The AUV Operator for the Lake Ontario research work is Russ Miller with the Great Lakes Observing Systems Regional Association. New York Sea Grant (NYSG) is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This network also includes a National Sea Grant Law Center and National Sea Grant Library. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s Great Lakes and marine resources since 1971. On a side note: Great Lakes Observing System in-water buoys are beginning to be deployed for 2013. Learn more at www.nyglrc.info.

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