US Long-Term Ecological Research Network

Lake Mendota, a large eutrophic lake, has experienced harmful algal blooms for well over a century.  These harmful algal blooms have a dramatic impact on lake aesthetics and cause a serious human health concern.  Spatial and temporal variability have been observed during the open water season, but due to time and method constraints, spatial sampling has been limited.  With algal fluorescence technology , we are now able to measure rapidly over larger spatial scopes in order to better understand how algal blooms vary spatially throughout the course of the open water season.  By gaining insight into spatial variability of the algal blooms in Lake Mendota over an entire season, we can better understand past and future data collection efforts to aid in harmful algal bloom prediction.

In addition to spatial monitoring, a buoy has been deployed at the deep-hole of Lake Mendota for several years.  Algal fluorescence data from this buoy, collected every minute for the open water season, can provide deep insight into short-scale dynamics of algal blooms that occur more rapidly than can be observed through traditional sampling regimes.  Using this high-frequency dataset, we are examining patterns in the data preceding observed algal bloom events to discern early warning signals for bloom prediction efforts with continued monitoring.

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