Jefferson Project Ensures Long Term Health of Lake George

Matt Hunter
October 24, 2014

BOLTON LANDING, N.Y. – Many people scattered along Lake George's nearly 70 miles of shoreline would certainly argue, but you could at least make the case the best views can be attained without stepping foot outside.

“This is really unprecedented amount of detail to have on the bottom of the lake,” said Jefferson Project director Rick Relyea.

A co-venture of IBM, the Fund for Lake George and RPI's Darrin Freshwater Institute, the Jefferson Project is already responsible for the first high definition underwater maps of the lake, which were completed using sonar equipment this summer.

“I think it's an unprecedented partnership between leaders in science, technology and conservation,” said Relyea.

One year in, scientists are now moving forward with the installation of various sensors throughout the lake, which measure everything from circulation and weather patterns, to data on chemicals, plant and animal life.

“This particular sonde carries six probes, it can measure up to eight different chemical parameters at once,” said Darrin Freshwater Institute research scientist Larry Eichler.

“As we put sensors out there, we have information on exactly what is happening in different points in the lake,” Relyea said.

“A lot of this information helps us understand how the processes in the lake work,” said Eichler.

“All of this data is coming in through cell phone technology so we can ask “what is the lake doing?” every few minutes and it will tell us,” said Relyea.

What used to take countless hours, now takes minutes. Over the next decade, researchers will use the data to build various ecological models in hopes of determining better methods to ensure the lake's long-term health.

“It just allows us to look at things so much more intensively and so much closer,” said Eichler.

“The approaches that we are taking a really applicable to lakes around the world and we are just very happy to be doing it here on Lake George,” Relyea said.

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