What's That Floating On The Lake?!

If while out on the water this summer you’ve noticed some red and white floats on the east-west leg of Angle Lake, upon closer inspection you’ll see that that these buoys are marked with the words “UW Research”.

The following letter was sent to the Shore Club email providing an explanation and purpose of these floats:

To residents around Angle Lake,
My name is Vincent O. Jobin and I am a graduate student at the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington. My advisor, Dr. Julian Olden, and I are leading a new research project (in collaboration with King County's Lake Stewardship Program) investigating the patterns, drivers and ecological consequences of water level fluctuations in lakes around the county. As part of the Lake Stewardship Program, volunteers have monitored nearly 60 lakes for water quality, water temperature and water level for some part of the past 20 years. Your lake is part of this Program and volunteers are still actively monitoring water levels on a frequent basis. Using this data, we intend to understand how past trends in water levels changed in response to precipitation, temperature and other attributes of the lakes, and then use this knowledge to study the role of lake level fluctuations in influencing the plants, animals and food webs they form.

One aspect of the project is to understand how changes in water levels affect the lakes' temperature. In summer, most lakes in the region stratify, i.e., they have a distinct warm water layer on top of a cooler one and these rarely mix. Changes in water level could affect this stratification and may have consequences for water quality. To investigate, we have installed temperature loggers in 15 lakes around King County, including Angle lake. These digital thermometers are attached to a leaded rope with an anchor on one end and a red and white floater on the other. They record temperature at regular intervals, keeping track of the temperature in the lake throughout the year. The float is large enough to be seen by anyone boating on the lake. We clearly identified our floats with “UW Research” as well as a phone number to call if found. We will come by regularly to check on them, perform maintenance and make sure they stay just at the surface as water levels go down during the summer.

As residents, you are the first affected by lake water quality and we believe that it is our duty to share our knowledge and findings. If you have any questions, please contact me by phone or email. We have launched a website so you can learn more about the project: http://lakelevels.weebly.com/. It will be updated throughout the summer.

We welcome your feedback in our endeavor and look forward to sharing the results of our work with you. We thank you in advance for your help and support.

Vincent O. Jobin
PhD student
University of Washington
Phone: 206-939-8721
Email: vjobin@uw.edu

Julian Olden
Associate Professor
University of Washington
Phone: 206-616-3112
Email: olden@uw.edu

Website: http://depts.washington.edu/oldenlab/

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