High-Tech Buoy To Boost Belgrade's Great Pond

The Great Pond in Belgrade, Maine will get a high-tech boost on Thursday April 25 with the implementation of a $20,000 buoy complete with sensors that will communicate data from the pond to a worldwide network.

The buoy will send real-time data regarding conditions in the Great Pond, including oxygen levels, temperature, light levels and phytoplankton activity every 15 minutes.

"It's really about this long-term monitoring and being able to predict when something may happen," professor of environmental studies at Colby College Denise Bruesewitz said.

The Great Pond buoy will be held by mooring lines close to Hoyt's Island at Deep Hole, the deepest area of the lake. It is comprised of black cables that fall into the water and carry sensors every 10 feet. According to Bruesewitz, obtaining data in the Great Pond from the buoy is far superior to current techniques, whereby scientists use boats to travel the lake and take one reading.

"In the past it's been a snapshot of data, like a photograph," she said. "We're going to have a thing like a film."

By implementing the buoy, Great Pond will become part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network, a group of about 50 lakes, each having its own buoy. The network uses data from the lakes to identify both local and global trends. In 2011, the network was used to help measure the impact of Hurricane Irene. As more water bodies like Great Pond are included in the network, its uses will be bolstered, including the possible prediction of the effect of land development.

Bruesewitz also claims that the buoys will allow for better prediction of things like algae blooms, which have recently harmed both Lake Erie and Florida. Another potential use is for tracking the presence of milfoil, a harmful lake weed.

Future technology could lead to more advanced sensors, which would allow scientists to address even more factors present in the Great Pond.

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