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Carbon Dioxide Dynamics in Lake Michigan

Due to their size, large lakes have the capacity to significantly influence regional carbon budgets.  There is evidence that small, temperate lakes tend to be net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere, but it is unclear whether this is true for large lakes, in which carbon dynamics are more influenced by internal nutrient cycling processes.  We are deploying automated, in situ CO2 monitoring systems on a buoy and a high-speed ferry to measure lake-atmosphere CO2 flux on a daily basis in Lake Michigan.  Results are being used to determine whether this Great Lake is a net source of sink of atmospheric CO2, and how the lake’s carbon dynamics respond to physical forcing, nutrient cycling, and perturbations by invasive dreissenid mussels, on time scales ranging from hours to years.  A parallel study on Lake Malawi, an African Great Lake, is being conducted to gain insights into how climate may influence large lake carbon dynamics.

This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Lake Express high speed ferry.

Lake Express

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More information about this project can be found at the following websites:

UW-Milwaukee News

Chicago Tribune Article

Chicago Tribue Video