That enterprising spirit that has made UW-Green Bay the fastest growing UW school in the state is also deepening learning experiences for students, researchers and the world in water science.
UW-Green Bay will soon reap the advantages of new insights provided by a real-time look at water quality in the Bay of Green Bay.
Multiple water quality buoys capable of sending data wirelessly are being deployed in the Bay. The buoys will send data using LoRaWAN, an international standard radio and network specification that can be used to build low-cost, low-power sensors that can send secured data to the cloud.
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To help fund the project, the University received a $25,000 Climate Changemaker Award grant from Washington D.C.-based CTIA Wireless Foundation. In 2019, the Bay — the world’s largest freshwater estuary — is being considered for designation as a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) site by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“An important aspect of the NERR is to conduct research and to generate monitoring data,” said Michael Zorn, associate dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “These LoRaWAN buoys will do just that. I expect the buoys, the generated data and the overall project will have a strong connection to the NERR.”
The buoys monitor water quality parameters, including dissolved oxygen concentration, which will help understand the Bay’s dead zones; chlorophyll concentration, which can indicate algae blooms; phycocyanin, an indication of harmful algae blooms; and temperature.
“The more tools we have, the more opportunities we create for our students and researchers,” said John Katers, dean of the college.
LoRaWAN is designed to support large numbers of sensors sending relatively small amounts of data on a periodic basis making it ideal for environmental monitoring applications. Cellcom, a member of CTIA, installed seven receivers in the lower bay of Green Bay.
“Cellcom has been a strong partner with us for years in helping advance our technologies,” Katers said.
Zorn said UW-Green Bay is also in the process of integrating with the Great Lakes Observing System and its new Seagull cloud-based platform. Once that is done, “data sent from the LoRaWAN buoys will be transmitted to Seagull and will be available for anyone to view on a nearly real-time basis,” he said.
“The real-time monitoring will help identify pockets of low oxygen that result in fish kills as they travel and provide other insights, such as declining numbers of lake flies that serve as a main source of food for fish,” he said.
Joining the Seagull platform will give UW-Green Bay a presence on the publicly available information source, which will promote the University and the water research being done, Zorn said.
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