From lakes to labs to you!

The “Impossible Mission Plan”: A Failed Failure Ends Successfully

Our director failed once again but, apparently, he is happy about it. If you had read our previous blog post (back in February 2018), you will remember that he decided to severely punish the field teams for having too much fun during the sampling season in 2017, and he developed a plan for an Impossible Mission (not starring Tom Cruise).

Despite their grueling schedule this summer, the field teams kept sending him happy photos as they sampled lakes across Canada (click the coloured dots in this map to see their photos). As the director counted the lakes, a large grin flashed across his face… 224, 225, 226, 227 lakes! “They did it!” he shouted as he cartwheeled (or whatever he attempted… a kinda rolly thing…) down the hallway!

Updated Map of Lakes Sampled in 2017 and 2018

Here we have an updated map of all the lakes we sampled in 2017 and 2018. In 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), and the colour indicates our human impact index (green is low, yellow is moderate, red is high). To learn more about our lake selection process scroll down to the section called “The LakePulse approach” in this post.

Null Hypothesis: Fieldwork Makes You Superhuman

Now, you might be wondering, “What do these field-team-people do now… sleep? rest? recuperate? hibernate? We wish they could… but actually, that is not quite the case. Our super-sampling-interns are already back at their studies (surely daydreaming about Nut, Swan, and Heart lakes as their profs babble on about the virtues of matrix inversion).

As for the graduate students working on LakePulse projects, they’re back at their research labs, computers and samples – excited to see what this year’s harvest of data will tell us!

As for our research professionals, well, as crazy as it may seem, they are already starting to prepare for next summer’s field campaign (which comes with some major challenges…) while also shipping the last samples across the country for analysis! (To receive updates of our latest news, subscribe to our blog, Facebook or Twitter.)

Anyway, back to that subtitle… Are they superhuman? Well you can decide for yourself by checking out the four videos of our field teams on our videos page.

We hope to share an early, public version of the Water Portal in late 2019

Some of us are working on how to provide wide access to our research findings and other scientific information on lakes and watersheds, which will be shared on the Water Portal. Here’s what we’re working on:

  • Automated lake reports for over 80,000 lakes across Canada.
  • Expert-interpreted results with interactive tools, related to our findings on topics such as emerging contaminants, cyanotoxins, mercury, land use impacts, climate change scenarios, remote sensing and spatial modelling approaches for lake health.
  • For over 80,000 lake watersheds, maps on land use and a human impact index, to help understand the links between activities within watersheds and lake health.
  • Policy briefs on some of our key findings.
  • Recommendations on technical aspects, such as on how to develop a shared environmental database, an online portal, standardized protocols for lake sampling, etc.

This is an effort that brings together the whole LakePulse Network.

The « blue beaver » picture above is a peek at the development process, which involves our loony scientists, as well as other participants providing feedback and ideas on our efforts.

LakePulse Motto: From lakes to labs to you!

The flowchart below is a more traditional way to show our seriously collaborative work. We are developing an integrated system for sharing lake and watershed information across Canada, which also serves our research projects. The Water Portal will make environmental information and research results widely available in order to increase understanding of lake and watershed health.

Information will be presented in a user-friendly format, especially for those with limited time, resources and experience. By providing scientific results in such a way, we hope to contribute information needed by many groups, including federal, provincial and municipal agencies; community members and groups; business and industry; and nongovernmental organisations. We aim to provide results and maps that can be used to address environmental concerns affecting lakes, to inform policymakers, and to support integrated watershed management.

LakePulse researchers are striving to widely communicate their findings of societal importance, especially through the Water Portal and as policy briefs.

While we’re busy working on these activities, consider completing our LakePulse questionnaire if you’d like to help us to create tools that suit your needs for lake and water quality data.

Thank you

We sincerely thank everyone who helped to make this summer a great success: from the administrative staff at the Université de Sherbrooke to our field teams and all other LakePulse participants.

A special thanks to all the friendly and curious people we met while traveling who asked us about our work; who graciously hosted and fed us; who kindly pulled our boat when the motor failed; who got our truck out of the mud when we were in a suboptimal situation; and all the First Nations communities who warmly welcomed our teams and shared their knowledge and ideas.

We feel privileged to have this opportunity to sample so many lakes, and we hope we’ll be able to give back and show our appreciation by telling you what we learned through our Water Portal. Before that though, we will be sampling another 250 lakes or so next summer… Keep an eye on this blog (and subscribe!) to learn more about next summer’s Impossible Mission.

(Perhaps) A Final Warning

Just between you and us, our director threatened to fire the “whole editorial team” as he feels the blog posts are poking “just too much fun at him” (boo-hoo… sniff, sniff). To which we, the principled people that we are, of course answered: “Fire away, buddy”! No pink slips have shown up yet… but if you don’t see another post or if the posts become really boring (like, hmm, say it sounds like one of his scientific papers), you’ll know what happened to our « inner resistance ».