Automated environmental sensors are used widely by limnologists, and have provided a range of insights about pattern and process in lakes, streams, and rivers. However, to date, these devices are almost always used to collect information about changes over time at a single point. John Crawford, Luke Loken, and colleagues overcame several logistical hurdles and were able to develop the Fast Limnology Automated Measurement (FLAMe) platform that can be used to generate detailed, spatially-explicit, real-time observations of surface water quality (see Crawford et al. 2015). Using these maps, we can identify point source locations, infer processing rates, and produce distributions of surface water conditions. All of which lead to an improved understanding of our lakes and rivers.
Through support from the UW2020 program, we are now expanding our capacity to generate detailed, spatially-explicit, real-time observations of surface water quality. This involves a collaboration among researchers and engineers at the Center for Limnology, the Physical Sciences Lab, and other UW programs. Our goal is to use this technology in new settings, addrrss new questions, and provide access to the technology to facilitate FLAMe-related research here at UW-Madison and beyond.