Lake Michigan Coastal Zone Research and Monitoring
Brought to you by UWM-WATER, NOAA-Sea Grant, NOAA/EPA/NASA, NSF, and other insightful agencies.
Understanding seasonal and interannual cycles and changes in lakes requires year-round sampling. Especially interesting are the transition times between seasons (e.g., winter-to-spring) and event-driven changes (e.g. large storms). After you attain a long enough time series, additional interannual and long-term trends also become apparent.
Working aboard the Neeskay, even on a nice day, is a job in the middle of winter. Here in January we must be careful to avoid freezing the sample ! Net tows such as the small "egg net" pictured are particularly susceptible to a cold breeze. I have even seen the ends of a Niskin sampler pop open from expanding ice inside !! Usually, we try to go out on temperate days in midwinter, because ice build-up on deck can be hazardous also.
Many people think winter is "dead" for Lake Michigan, but it is far from so. During this period, the system resets itself for the warm seasons to follow. Organisms that favor turbulence, including silica-clad diatoms, grow well, albeit slowly in the deep mixing of the winter water column.