A new federal report says it’s cheaper and easier to test water quality from space than it is from a boat or a dock. Data gathered by hand can be extrapolated to satellite imagery.
It’s an important advance in lake-heavy regions where it is expensive and challenging to visit every body of water.
Still, gathering data the old-fashioned way is not obsolete.
On Dec. 17, a NASA satellite sailed over southern Lake Michigan after winds whipped up a tendril-like sediment plume. The satellite captured an image of the plume that caught the eye of the people behind the NASA Earth Observatory, an online repository of satellite images, photographs and other illustrations of both natural phenomena and human impacts on the planet.
The plume results from winds blowing in from the north that set the water in southern Lake Michigan circulating in a counter-clockwise pattern called a gyre. The movement stirs up sediment from …
NOAA’s Great Lakes CoastWatch website is updated daily with satellite images of the lakes. It’s a great site, but unfortunately the images are often simple pictures of the tops of clouds floating over the region.
But, as a post on NASA’s Earth Observatory site points out, the sky opened up in late August and gave the agency’s Aqua satellite caught a clear, cloudless glimpse of the Great Lakes region.
Click the image above for an absurdly large version of the file.
A month of satellite images of Lake Erie shows a dramatic transformation.
Check out this series of images that starts with an ice-covered lake that quickly cracks apart.
As the days progress you can see the annual spring mixing of fine-grained mud that is stirred from the lake bottom and suspended in the water column.
Worry wanes over the chance of flooding brought on by the melting ice bridge at the southern tip of Lake Huron. But a few freighters heading through the St. Clair River have gotten stuck in ice chunks that are gathered up like “sand bunched in an hourglass,” Tammy Stables Battaglia writes in the Detroit Free Press.
The hourglass metaphor is apt. You can see it in action here:
The Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies – a joint effort between UW-Madison, NOAA and NASA – runs a blog featuring posts of weather-related satellite imagery. The posts often include beefy animated images of things like volcanoes in the West Indies and potential vorticity anomalies on the California coast.
Luckily, the institute’s Wisconsin bias sometimes shows through and they offer up cool Great Lakes scenes. In December, they put together this mesmerizing shot of cloud bands streaming over Lake Superior.
Photo: University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center
Be sure to let …
By Jeff Gillies
Great Lakes Echo
Sept. 17, 2009
The Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay both field noxious summer algae blooms fueled by dirt and nutrients from farm fields. The six northeastern states that drain into the Chesapeake Bay have a patchwork plan to curb it.
It doesn’t work and never will, says a recent report by the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit lobbyist and research group.
The report claims runoff prevention programs fail because they’re voluntary — farmers that don’t want to participate don’t have to.
Similar criticism might also be relevant for erosion …
Some Great Lakes watersheds sweating off the winter freeze are sending huge brown plumes of sediment into Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.
But are these smudges, visible in satellite photographs, a sign of spring or a sign that something is wrong?
“It’s both,” said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ John Matthews on the Lake Erie plume. “It’s normal, but it’s also a function of how we’ve affected stream channels in that watershed.”
Lake St. Clair’s plume got a recent boost from the worst flooding in southern Ontario in 20 years, said …