Researchers to study the Great Lakes during our ever-changing winters

Researchers from across the U.S. and Canada are preparing to convene on the Great Lakes for a first-of-its-kind coordinated research project. 

The project, named Winter Grab, will bring 14 different research groups to different parts of each of the Great Lakes to begin collecting data on our ever-changing winters. 

Ted Ozersky, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth says of all the research done on the Great Lakes, less than 5% of the studies done take place in the winter. They hope this project helps fill information gaps regarding the lake's behavior in the winter. 

"The way we understand and manage the Great Lakes relies on us thinking we know how the Great Lakes work. But with climate change and other changes the way the Great Lakes work is changing. So, if we are missing basic information on how they behave 4-5 months, that reduces our ability to predict the future, and our ability to propose management actions for mitigating things," Ozersky says. 

Two years ago, researchers got together to come up with a summary of what they know, and what they don't about lake behavior in the winter. They came up with 20 big picture questions they hope to answer to gain an increased understanding of what winter looks like. They hope to find out more about water temperature under the ice, the amount of light let through the ice, and the behavior and chemistry of the bacteria and microorganisms in the water. 

Beginning next week, research groups will all go out at the same time and take the same measurements across different parts of the lakes in hopes of getting more answers to their questions. 

"We chose Feburary 14th because historically it's the time of year when the most ice cover is on the lake, in the middle of winter," says Ozersky. 

He says data collection will take one week, after which analyzing will begin.