Lake Pulse to visit 232 lakes in 7 provinces this summer!

(en français ici)

Flashback to summer 2017

At the Lake Pulse command & control centre (Sherbrooke University, Quebec, Canada)

The Director was grumbling again! He moodily opened box upon box of carefully packed samples from the 5 field crews traveling across 4 provinces to visit 217 lakes. At each lake, a crew spent a strenuous day taking over 100 samples. In the evenings, they sent a brief message back to the command & control centre with photos or videos.

 

The daily reports from the field crews delighted everyone – except the Director… He mumbled to himself as he looked at the photos, “How can they find time to goof off!? Unacceptable, I say! What’s this yoga, hot tubs, sleeping at work, country fairs, and mud masks?!” The Director bellowed, “Dang flabbit! Next year must be more grueling! Muahahaha!!” 

Lake Pulse field crews in summer of 2017

(Editor’s note: The last image is a creative use of “pure natural” 100-year-old mud pulled up from the lake bottom using a sediment corer.)

Present day at the Lake Pulse command & control centre

The Director’s door creaks open and a whisper announces: “We have… The Plan.”

By Jove! This plan is even more ambitious than last year! In 2018, Lake Pulse will visit 232 lakes in 7 provinces! Our 22 intrepid field participants are heading west… and east! They’ll be in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, western Ontario, eastern Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador.

Explore the map below to see our preliminary selection of 232 lakes. Be warned! Some of these lakes will change, so keep an eye on this map over the next few months before putting out the welcome mat for Lake Pulse.

Click on the map’s upper-right-hand corner to “View larger map” for an even more satisfying experience.

On the map, for each lake, the size of the circle indicates one of our three size classes (small is 0.1-0.5 km2, medium is 0.5- 5 km2, large is 5-100 km2). The colour indicates our human impact index (green is low, yellow is moderate, red is high).

You can also click on a circle to see how we classified the lake. (To learn more about our classification for lake size and the human impact index, you can read this post – and if you’re thinking “cut to the chase, buddy!” you should scroll down to the section called “The Lake Pulse approach”.)

Someone in Canada is now saying, “Rats! Why don’t you visit my lake?” Sadly, we can’t add lakes to our list. Our sampling design requires a “random” selection of lakes. (Read “The Lake Pulse approach” mentioned in the paragraph above to learn how we randomly selected our lakes.) We do make exceptions when provincial governments or First Nations request lakes that are of special interest.

If you click on a lake, you can also see if we know how to access it or if we have a bathymetry map… Whoops! That feature hasn’t been added yet. Keep checking because we’ll add this feature in the coming weeks!

“Lake Pulse, what’s all this sampling for?”

Thanks for asking! Well, we’re scientists (sometimes called nerds or geeks…but, basically, we’re curious and analytical). We love to understand how things work. In Lake Pulse, our shtick is figuring out how lakes work. While curiosity drives us, we also care deeply about lakes (many of us have spent decades studying them). Therefore, more importantly, Lake Pulse aims to provide the first national assessment of lake health by 2021.

Unlike other scientific endeavors – where scientists publish their results in scientific journals that are only read by two of their brainiest friends – we have a mission to make our information accessible and meaningful to Canadians. So, we collaborate with government partners and NGOs; we talk with lots of people outside of ivory towers; and we make sure our monitoring data and scientific results inform and influence policy. In the next couple of years, we’ll begin producing “lake and watershed reports” based on analyses coming from our research. We want these reports to be useful and understandable to citizens and lake associations. So, we’re working with various groups to ensure that we understand the needs and interests of citizens and lake communities.

Addendum:

The Director: The portrayal of our Director as an uptight party-pooper is only a joke. In truth, he is much worse than that. In reality, he is a cheerful fellow who picked blueberries while doing fieldwork last summer. He then baked a blueberry pie and wrote a poem with his field crew!

Amazing field crews make possible Canada’s first national assessment of lake health: Far from being slackers, our hardworking field crews are carrying out a unique scientific mission that many believed was impossible. Fieldwork for eight weeks straight is not easy-peasy like camping or swanning around lakes! It demands meticulous attention to detail, exhausting physical work, and a readiness for creative problem-solving. The field crews are outdoors all day (enjoying the black flies, mosquitoes, and other natural wonders), and they deal with complicated logistics as they drive to a new lake each day. To create an interdisciplinary database for Canadian lakes, our field crews will spend a full day at 680 lakes, where they use diverse sampling methods. After spending strenuous summers sampling lakes, our super-fit students return to universities across Canada to analyze lake samples and to work on various research projects. Their collective efforts will produce Canada’s first national assessment of lake health. Let’s do the math for the fieldwork that Lake Pulse is carrying out over 3 summers:

(680 lakes) x (4 people in each field crew) x (1 full day at each lake) =

2720 person-days (or 7.5 person-years) collecting lake samples from coast-coast across Canada!

This is the dedication it takes to build Canada’s lake health database!

Thank you Lake Pulse field crews!

Footnotes

  1. Yes, kotaku, be scared of the Lake Pulse groundswell! In a couple of years, we’ll take your spot on the most-viewed blog list. (Readers, we hope you understand that we weave a bit of humour into these blogs… remember the post that entirely swirled around a beer analogy? And, of course, don’t worry, we’re better at measuring lake health than estimating the number of readers of our blog.)