A landmark study on acid rain came to an end today. Researchers took down a barrier that’s divided Little Rock Lake in two for nearly thirty years. Dismantling the curtain was no easy task.
Decades after scientists proved the effects of acid rain on northern lakes, it was time to take down the Little Rock barrier that made the study possible. Fifteen researchers, students and divers were on hand for the challenge: how to dismantle a 250-foot curtain…made of heavy black plastic, and partially submerged under years of sediment.
Thirty years of scientific study on a Vilas County lake will come to an end on Monday.
Scientists are removing a barrier that has divided Little Rock Lake in two since 1984. Researchers installed the barrier to conduct a landmark study on the effects of acid rain. Carl Watras is a research scientist with the state Department of Natural Resources. He's been involved with the Little Rock project since the beginning. Watras says at the time there was speculation about the effect of acid rain on lakes, but there was no definitive evidence.
If you frequent lakes in the Northwoods, you know that invasive species are a big problem. Take rainbow smelt – the tiny fish are known for outcompeting native fish and devouring their young. Once rainbow smelt get into a lake, it can be all but impossible to get rid of. Some approaches rely on chemicals that wipe out all fish species. But one project out of UW’s Trout Lake Research Station is experimenting with a new technique that could have many fewer side effects than the chemical method.
Say you’re a scientist who studies lakes. How do you choose which one to to study? Chances are you’ll pick one that’s a pretty good size…like Trout Lake, or Crystal Lake. You might pick one with a lot of species of fish, or one the public uses for recreation. But what about the tiny lakes…the backyard ones so small they may not even have names, or the ones that dry up completely when it doesn’t rain for a while?
Many people come to the Northwoods to get away from the rest of the world.
But at the University of Wisconsin Limnology Research Station at Trout Lake, scientists are trying to do just the opposite.
Since 2004 Director Tim Kratz has been one of the pioneers putting together a network of limnologists, or scientists studying lakes, around the world. It’s called GLEON, the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network. WXPR’s Natalie Jablonski sat down with Kratz to talk about how GLEON is part of a changing way of doing science.