10/31/13

Nearshore buoy wraps up another successful season of Lake Michigan data collection

The Michigan City real-time monitoring buoy, jointly owned and operated by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Purdue University Department of Civil Engineering, is out of the water for the 2013 season. This year, the buoy was deployed for 154 days, reporting data every 10 minutes around-the-clock. Over 3,400 people visited the buoy website during deployment, with an average of 18 hits per day. As one user put it, “Many, many of us have found the information as nothing less than terrific! Sailors like myself, fisherman like my dock neighbor, and so many pleasure boaters from Michigan City, Burns Harbor like to know what to expect once we leave the harbors.”

Buoy-watchers will have more to look forward to in 2014, as this winter the buoy will be getting an upgrade. Thanks in part to a grant from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program awarded to IISG's Tomas Hӧӧk, the buoy will broadcast real-time temperatures at different depths during the 2014 season and beyond. The buoy has always collected surface water temperature, but now it will also collect temperatures approximately every three feet from the surface to the bottom of the lake. 

“We are very excited to install this chain of temperature loggers”, said Carolyn Foley, IISG assistant research coordinator who will help implement the new chain. “A number of groups told us they would use this information, from kayakers wanting to know if it’s warm enough to go for a paddle to anglers wanting to know where the best fishing will be.”

In addition to installing the new temperature loggers, IISG education staffers Terri Hallesy and Robin Goettel will work with Indiana educators to develop data-based lesson plans. IISG outreach staff, including Angela Archer and Leslie Dorworth, will also attend at least one outdoor show in northwestern Indiana to get direct feedback on ways to improve the buoy website for future seasons. 

We would like to hear from anyone who uses the buoy data, particularly anglers, paddlers, and others who use southern Lake Michigan for recreation, as well as educators interested in using buoy data in their classrooms. If you 1) are an educator in grades 8-12 interested in participating in a workshop to acquire data sets for teaching and to develop lesson plans with buoy data, 2) have feedback related to improving the buoy website, and/or 3) would like to suggest an outdoor show for us to attend, please send us an email with “Buoy feedback” in the subject line. We expect to redeploy the buoy in mid-May 2014. 

Special thanks to the staff of the Indiana DNR Michigan City Field Office for their help deploying and retrieving the buoy.

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