Data Loggers Monitor Lakes for Signs of Global Warming

Market: 
Outdoor
Organization: 
University of Maine at Farmington
Summary: 
In an effort to detect evidence of climate change, Maine scientists deploy data loggers in 100 lakes across the state to measure water temperature and light intensity at various depths.

Excerpt from: BethelCitizen.com
By: Alison Aloisio
August 15, 2008

Located in Hanover, Maine, Howard Pond has joined a growing list of lakes that will be monitored for possible effects of global warming.

Dr. Dan Buckley from the University of Maine at Farmington is collaborating with other scientists and organizations that hope to place several HOBO® Pendant Loggers in 100 lakes across Maine over the next two years. The data loggers are going to be used to measure and record temperature and light intensity at various depths.

Buckley recently described details of the monitoring project for Howard Pond residents.

“While melting polar ice caps and glaciers get more of the attention in the global warming discussion,” explained Buckley, “climate change can have a dramatic effect on the ecology of lakes.”

According to Buckley, projections show that in 50 years, this region will have the overall climate of southern Connecticut.

“The scary thing is the lakes are changing faster than the air,” says Buckley.

A study of Lake Superior showed that since the 1980s, the average surface water temperature of the lake has risen about 4ºF.

“In the same period,” said Buckley, “the atmospheric temperature has gone up 1ºF.”

“In this region, 'ice out' dates are 10 to 15 days earlier than they were in the 19th and early 20th centuries,” explained Buckley.

For example, in the 1880s ice in the Rangeley lakes typically went out in mid-May; however, since the 1960s there has been a dramatic change - ice-out has been happening earlier.

“Some researchers,” said Buckley, “have suggested earlier ice-out is the reason that lake temperatures are climbing at an accelerated rate.”

This warming trend could result in the loss of cold-water fish, such as trout and salmon, from some lakes.

“As for Howard Pond,” Buckley said, “The prediction will likely not be as dire.”

According to Buckley, the pond is 118 feet deep, which is unusually deep relative to its surface area. That characteristic will help protect it from the effects of global warming.

Howard Pond residents are not taking anything for granted. The pond’s Preservation Association will finance the placement of two HOBO Pendant Loggers. The loggers will record temperature and light at 15-minute intervals and remain in the pond for up to 208 days. Buckley will then use the data to compare it to the data from other lakes in Maine.

The Howard Pond project will likely start next year.