Environmental data on the Great Lakes region that used to take months to find can now be found in minutes, thanks to the Great Lakes Monitoring website.
This website, created by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, provides viewers with decades of nutrient, contaminant and water data.
Universities and government agencies provide the information.
“The idea was basically trying to improve access to the EPA Great Lakes National Program office monitoring data,” said Paris Collingsworth, ecosystem specialist for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. “The project of developing this web page has been going on for around 3 years.”
The website’s provides an interactive map with monitoring locations and their boundaries, according to the press release. Users can look at trends in levels of things like like phosphorus, chlorophyll a, nitrogen, and mercury.
They can look more deeply at the individual profiles for each location. Each page has menus and slide bars to allow users to hone in on the exact data they are looking for.
The website also allows researchers create and develop data for areas they are interested in.
“We’ve been reaching out to other groups in the last month or so, having people contact us for their data sets to go on the website,” Collingsworth said. Those interested in contributing data need only to give website operators access to their database for it to appear on the website, he said.
The website allows researchers to increase the visibility of their monitoring programs, he said.
Uploading data to the website is not open to anyone and has to be approved by the website’s monitors.
“We have the capability for people to upload their own data but we haven’t opened that part of it yet because we’re trying to make sure we put high quality data in there,” Collingsworth said. “ We want long time series data, not data that is collected over a couple years.”
The website has more plans for expansion.
“We see the webpage eventually including all of the EPA data from biology and atmosphere statements to oxygen monitoring. We have to develop new views so it will take time.”