A United Kingdom Lake Ecological Observatory Network

Lead Research Organisation: NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Department Name: Parr

Abstract

Lake systems play a fundamental role in storing and providing freshwater and food, in supporting recreation and in protecting species diversity. However, the stability of these ecosystem services can be undermined by the increased demands society makes upon these systems and changes in atmospheric composition and lake water balance that arise through a societal-mediated changing climate. To safeguard against such loss of functioning there is in place legally-binding national and European directives that set stringent targets for water quality and biodiversity. Meeting these targets requires a detailed understanding of lake processes that in turn requires measurements at an appropriate temporal scale. Traditional monitoring, of at best weekly-fortnightly intervals, is sufficient to record seasonal change but cannot resolve the processes driving many aspects of lake function. To resolve these processes we need to 'hear every note in the full symphony of lake functioning', with such resolution only viable through semi-continuous measurement of parameters that are key reflectors of lake functioning. We are fortunate that deployed in eleven lakes across the UK, of different size, altitude, latitude and nutrient status, are basic systems automated to make such measurements, Automatic Water Quality Monitoring Stations (AWQMS). However at present, most buoys are restricted to a meteorological station and temperature measurements. A few have other probes to measure water quality, but these are subject to biofouling which could compromise the data. At present, the data are mainly downloaded by telemetry to the host-site via a range of procedures. Thus we are not utilising advances in data-logger-, computer- and sensor-technology to measure automatically at high frequency and 'hear the full symphony'. We propose to change this by installing stable, state-of-the-art sensor technology, with mechanical devices to minimise biofouling. Further, we will maximise the value of generating this high frequency data by linking together the lakes in a sensor network to deliver quality-controlled data onto the internet for analysis by project partners, the wider scientific community and the general public. Such infrastructure investment needs to reflect the need for high quality measurement from science-driven agendas. We will demonstrate such a network supports these agendas through the following projects: DST1: Real-time forecasting of lake behaviour: We will incorporate the real-time data available from the sensor network into a forecast system for lake phytoplankton behaviour and, in particular, to provide warning for the onset of phytoplankton blooms. DST2: The effect of meteorology on the fate of carbon within lakes: We will track pool and flux variability of dissolved carbon dioxide over daily to seasonal time scales. By relating these measurements to meteorological and within-lake physico-chemical measurements within and between sites we are better equipped to define critical controls on the lake carbon cycle. DST3: The level of regional coherence in sub-seasonal timescales: Lakes can show a regionally coherent response e.g. strong links exist between air and surface water temperature; large-scale weather patterns such as the position of north wall of the Gulf Stream have also been shown to influence directly the regional coherence of lakes. Use of high resolution data to examine coherence in lake temperatures has just begun but as yet no-one has investigated coherence of biological, chemical or wider physical variables on these short time-scales, an approach which is viable through this network. In summary, this sensor network of AWQMSs, offering detail of observation through high resolution data generation and the new instrumentation will demonstrate not only the value of observing the environment remotely and in detail, but the benefit from integration systems to offer real advances in environmental science.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description A United Kingdom Lake Ecological Observatory Network. The network is now built. New loggers have been programmed and new sensors installed. A new station has been installed on Lough Erne in Northern Ireland. A large amount of effort has gone into managing the data effectively. A Loader routine has been designed and built by project partners which collects the data via telemetry from each of the 11 buoys. A database to store and quality control the data that arrives from the loader software has been designed and constructed. A viewer which plots different types of data for different periods of time has been designed to display the data to the general public as well as the project partners. Finally an interface has been produced for the project partners to query and download the data for further analysis. Scientific analysis of the data has taken place. A PhD student funded by a manufacturer that has supplied much of the instrumentation has analysed high-frequency temperature data. The PhD student and both post-docs have successfully completely. Several peer-reviewed papers have been published.
Exploitation Route Demonstration of the value of high-frequency monitoring and sensor networks in environmental science.
Databasing and data handling techniques developed transferable to other areas.
Real-time modelling of algal blooms of value to lake regulators and water companies.
Sectors Environment

 
Description European training course
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description MSc course teaching
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Member of GLEON Collaborative Climate Committee
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
 
Description ENVISION Doctoral Training Programme
Amount £8,750 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 03/2019
 
Description NERC Big data Capital award
Amount £230,000 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 03/2015
 
Title Data upload procedures 
Description Automatic uploading of high-frequency data from the 11 monitoring stations around the UK into a central database which produces hourly and daily summary averages with quality control information. 
Type Of Material Data handling & control 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Efficient and secure method for handling large volumes of data. 
 
Title Data viewer 
Description Viewer to visualise near real time data for project partners and the general public. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Data visualisation and knowledge transfer. 
URL http://data.ecn.ac.uk/ukleon/
 
Description COST Action NETLAKE 
Organisation Dundalk Institute of Technology
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Data, expertise and leadership, plus transfer of knowledge on maintaining and interpreting data from high-frequency monitoring lake buoys.
Collaborator Contribution COST Action paying for travel and subsistence to network with over 25 groups across Europe.
Impact Student training: outgoing- PhD from the project to New Zealand; incoming- PhD student from Denmark.
Start Year 2012
 
Title Lake Heat Flux Analyzer 
Description Web-based tool for calculating heat fluxes from high resolution lake monitoring data 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Publication of paper describing the software, now getting cited. 
 
Description Invited talk and demonstration (Cumbria) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk and demonstration about the use of automated lake monitoring buoys to the 'Cumbrian Lakes Research Forum'. Participants in the forum included all sectors engaged in study, use and management of lakes in Cumbria.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description NERC 'Into the Blue' 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Demonstrating the use of automated sensors for monitoring the environment to members of the public. Organised by NERC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Sensor demonstration at Freshwater Biological Association annual open-day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Demonstrating the use of automated sensors to measure the lake environment to members of the general public and other attendees at the open day of an ecological charity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016