Global Lakes Ecological Observation Network

GLEON and the Belgrade Lakes

“We envision a global network of hundreds of instrumented lakes, selected strategically around the globe in disparate lakes, to understand at local, regional, continental and global scales such issues as the direction and rate of change of lakes; the factors controlling daily, seasonal, and among-year variability of lake processes; and the reciprocal interactions between human use of lakes and lake ecology. By partnering with a diverse international community of research organizations, we capitalize on a range of scientific expertise while gaining a large gradient in lake physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. A global network of automated lake observatories, each collecting and transferring data in near real time, is within our grasp in the next decade, and will offer new opportunities in scientific collaboration and understanding of lake processes.”


For more information about GLEON please visit the website.

“The cycle of life is intricately tied with the cycle of water.”

Jacques Cousteau

Remote Monitoring Buoys

The GLEON buoy located in Lake Sunapee

Though we understand the need for water quality monitoring, and we have the technology, often times we lack the ability to conduct thorough research on a regular basis. Put simply, it is one thing to sample a lake monthly, it is entirely different to have a standardized dataset of key variables updating at nearly real time. This is the future of water quality monitoring: buoys.

The Global Lake Ecology Observation Network (GLEON) is a grassroots organization working to establish a network of sensor equipped buoys capable of measuring variables like pH, chlorophyll, conductivity, dissolved gases, and water temperature.[1] By coupling these sensory arrays with cyberinfrasturcture,[2] data can be delivered in near real time, often every fifteen to twenty minutes. By establishing a regular pattern of data, scientists can begin to develop a complete picture of  a water body, and heighten understanding of processes like stratification and lake mixing.[3]

The value of GLEON to scientists is the data, tools, and modeling that can lead to scientific monitoring, but there is an even great value. The real time data flow has the capacity to capture stakeholders from the local community, increasing their knowledge on the general characteristics of the water body. This knowledge can lead to greater understanding of the science behind the data. It is the role of the scientist to produce varying forms of knowledge that allows the stakeholder holder to be informed, and enact change as part of the solution to an ecological problem.[4] Essentially, the bridge must be gapped, so that knowledge can lead to action by the stakeholder. It is important to understand that many stakeholders are already beholders of knowledge, and are well versed in how they can influence a water body that they care for. The individuals who do not fully understand where they fit into the puzzle are the targets of this project. This understanding, or lack thereof, has the capacity to increase an individual’s perception of sense of place, a subject that connects the people to the region, and is the main topic of the next section.

[1] Kratz et al. (2006)

[2] Atkins et al. (2003)

[3] Kratz et al. (2006)

[4] Hage  et al. (2010)