The Jefferson Project at Lake George, New York, a collaborative project between Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM Research and The FUND for Lake George is using Internet of Things sensors and big data analytics to create a model that can be used to help preserve a wide range of water sources.
Researchers have been monitoring the chemistry of algae in Lake George for the past 35 years to demonstrate how the lake is being affected by a range of inputs including pollution, tourism, and weather activity.
But the project has recently started a new phase which has seen IBM and Jefferson Project researchers put sophisticated underwater sonar-based sensors (powered by solar energy) to measure a range of data.
Those sensors are linked up to custom software deployed on IBM Blue Gene/ Q supercomputer and IBM Smarter Planet software deployed in a datacentre on the Rensselaer campus.
Rick Relyea, director of the Jefferson Project at Lake George said the IoT sensors have greatly improved data accuracy, which has allowed researchers to improve the models they generate from the patterns being observed.
“The Jefferson Project provides the unique opportunity for biologists and environmental scientists to work closely with engineers, physicists, computer scientists and meteorologists to understand large lakes at a level of detail and intensity that is simply unprecedented,” Relyea said.
“Together, we will make tremendous inroads into understanding how lakes naturally behave and how human activities alter biodiversity, the functioning of freshwater ecosystems, and overall water quality.”
The project researchers have already used the preliminary data generated by the sensors to create a range of models that can help predict the impact of weather events, salt run-off, and heavy tourism on water circulation and the water body’s chemistry, which Rylea said could be applied to many other bodies of water in a bid to improve their health.
“The major threats to Lake George are many of the same threats to lakes around the world. Too many nutrients coming in from either fertiliser or sewage. We have contaminants coming in, those may be pesticides, it may be road salts. We have development coming in changing the habitat around the lakes, changing how much water run-off there is. And we have invasive species coming in.”