LEA’s Research Director, Dr. Ben Peierls, grabbing some late season data next to a string of temperature sensors. Submitted photo

REGION — In the last two weeks, the weather has been spectacularly warm and that has made my job of removing heavy and slimy buoys with attached temperature sensors from lakes in this area much easier. Last November, when our team was doing this same job, there was ice on the shoreline, winter hats were a must, and my hands were numb for hours afterwards. But regardless of whether it is cold or warm, I enjoy getting out on our lakes and these unusual temperatures are one of the reasons we are conducting this type of monitoring in the first place.

Each spring, after lake ice cover has melted away, the Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) places conspicuous white and orange ‘Test Site’ buoys on multiple lakes in the Oxford Hills Region. Each buoy is tethered in the deepest part of the lake by a cinder block anchor with line stretching from the lake bottom to the buoy floating at the surface. Each line (floating rope) is outfitted with small temperature sensors, at multiple depths which provide a detailed record of temperature fluctuations within the waters of host lakes. The temperature data collected by these sensors allows LEA to better understand how water temperature at multiple depths changes from day to day throughout the season and the extent to which weather events like high winds and intense storms contribute to the mixing of waters from different depths. These sensors are left in the water throughout the summer and removed when cooler fall weather sets in.

Water temperature is highly important to the both the organisms living within lakes and to the regulation of oxygen concentrations which those organisms are dependent upon. Lake temperature fluctuates after big changes in air temperature, heavy precipitation, or strong winds. While lake size, depth, and shape also greatly impact temperature differences between the top and bottom of the lake, collecting this data allows us to determine how the natural shape and depth of the lake contributes to the ways in which lake ecosystems respond to weather events.

With funding and support from local lake associations, including the Keoka Lake Association, Island Pond Association, McWain Pond Association, and the Five Kezar Ponds Watershed Association; LEA has gained invaluable information that helps us assess water quality and understand lake ecosystems within the Oxford Hills Region. Thank you to all associations and individuals who support our work!

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