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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Seeing the Hydroscape: Developing a New Approach for the Study of Inland Waters

Automated sensors that monitor the natural world in ways and at frequencies not previously possible are making a major impact in ecological science, but their use in the aquatic realm has lagged. “Seeing the Hydroscape: Developing a New Approach for the Study of Inland Waters,” will attempt to level the playing field. Existing sensors can quantify several physical, chemical, and biological variables at one point in an aquatic ecosystem, but the technology that terrestrial ecologists and earth system scientists take for granted to see or understand the spatial complexities of the whole ecosystem (the hydroscape) is not available. This project aims to fundamentally expand capacity to generate detailed, spatially-explicit, real-time observations of surface water quality, and then provide the technology to aquatic researchers at UW-Madison and beyond. The process began with the creation of the Fast Limnology Automated Measurement (FLAMe) platform, which generates water quality maps using automated sensors. Proposed FLAMe development will create the hardware and software to allow real-time viewing and rapid data acquisition, and make the instrumentation modular, portable, and user-friendly so the advanced FLAMe platform can be used in different watercraft and different aquatic environments. These activities will be accomplished through collaboration among limnologists, engineers, and information scientists; capitalizing on experience with environmental sensors and informatics, and leadership in campus, national, and international networks of aquatic scientists. By providing a new way of viewing and understanding lakes, streams, and rivers, development of FLAMe technology should open multiple avenues for the study and management of inland waters.

Principal Investigator

  • Emily H. Stanley
    Department of Zoology, Center for Limnology

Co-Principal Investigators

  • Robert J. Paulos
    Physical Sciences Laboratory
  • Paul C. Hanson
    Distinguished Scientist Center for Limnology
  • Corinna Gries
    Senior Scientist
    Center for Limnology
  • Ankur R. Desai
    Associate Professor
    Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences