In the state of New York, one of the world’s most pristine natural ecosystems is being threatened. Road salt, storm water runoff and invasive species are harming Lake George -- a long, narrow lake at the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains.
So to both understand and manage these threats, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM and the FUND for Lake George have launched a three-year, multi-million dollar collaboration, called "The Jefferson Project at Lake George."
This project, according to a press release, includes an environmental lab with a monitoring and prediction system that will give scientists and the community a real-time picture of the health of the lake. The facility, according to the release, is expected to "create a new model for predictive preservation and remediation of critical natural systems on Lake George, in New York, and ultimately around the world."
To gain a scientific understanding of the lake, a combination of advanced data analytics, computing and data visualization techniques, new scientific and experimental methods, 3-D computer modeling and simulation, and historical data will be used -- as will weather modeling and sensor technology.
The monitoring system is expected to give scientists a view of circulation models in Lake George -- something they've not seen before. These 3-D models could then be used to understand how currents distribute nutrients and contaminants across the 32-mile lake and their correlation to specific stressors, according to the release. The models also can be overlaid with historical and real-time weather data to see the impact of weather and tributary flooding on the lake's circulation patterns.
In addition, a new Smarter Water laboratory and visualization studio will help local leaders see a real-time picture of the current and future computer modeled conditions, water chemistry and health of the lake's natural systems -- data that local groups could use to make informed decisions about protecting the lake and its ecosystem.
“Lake George has a lot to teach us, if we look closely,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “By expanding Rensselaer’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute with this remarkable new cyberphysical platform of data from sensors and other sources, and with advanced analytics, high performance computing and web science, we are taking an important step to protect the timeless beauty of Lake George, and we are creating a global model for environmental research and protection of water resources.”