The Winter Grab study collects evidence from Great Lakes

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By TREVOR SOCHOCKI, ANNA MUCKENFUSS

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Michigan (WNEM) – Scientists are collecting evidence from the Great Lakes to learn more about their winter activities.

Many believe the lakes and wetlands go dormant in colder weather, but the project hopes to show the opposite.

The ice fishermen on the white landscape of the lakes are joined by two dozen scientists from universities in Canada and the USA.

It is the first project of this magnitude and is called “Wintergrab”.

“I think it’s long overdue because we know so little about what happens in winter. And you just can’t, you know you can’t understand part of the system,” said Don Uzarski of the CMU Institute for Great Lakes Research.

His team and many others took snowmobiles, sleds and an airboat last week to collect ice and water samples from the frozen tundra.

“The lakes are warming, and especially the northern lakes, they’re warming, they’re among the fastest warming freshwater systems in the world,” Uzarski said.

It used to be thought that coastal lakes and wetlands were dormant during winter, but early evidence shows the opposite is true.

“There’s a unique assemblage of underwater animals and plants that thrive during this time, and they have far-reaching implications in the sense that what happens under the ice can affect what eventually happens in the summer, believe it.” or not,” Usarski said.

CMU Aquatic Ecology Professor Hunter Carrick and his team measure photosynthesis by looking at the number of phytoplankton in the water.

“It’s sort of a dream team coming together to express it, to differentiate themselves and try to get ahead of the curve of understanding climate change and how it’s affecting the ecology of our great lakes,” Carrick said.

The plan is for the entire team to author and publish a peer-reviewed paper on their findings within the year.

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