Michigan News

(Photo: NOAA)

Average Sized Dead Zone Expected in the Gulf of Mexico

Mission Area.This is the first year NOAA is conducting the Gulf dead zone forecast independently.  It is the culmination of a multi-year academic-federal partnership to develop a suite of NOAA-supported hypoxia forecast models. The partnership included teams of researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science, North Carolina State University and the USGS. Some of these groups are also developing independent forecasts, released in coordination with NOAA and using the USGS data.NOAA and its partners continue to

A 25-foot section of inland underwater oil barrier is laid out on a dock prior to deployment, Monday, April 23, 2018, in Kalamazoo, Mich. The three-foot high barrier is made of PVC and X-Tex fabric, and is designed to let water flow through while trapping oil. Weighted chains and scour flaps prevent oil and sediment from flowing underneath the barrier. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo courtesy of Research and Development Center)

Coast Guard Tests Underwater Oil Barrier System

of Morrow Lake, and tested two different anchoring methods. The anchoring method is dependent on river depth, type of substrate of the river bottom, and resources available to oil spill responders at the time of an incident. Local U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives and the Northern Michigan regional director from the office of Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., observed portions of the test.This is one of several efforts the RDC is undertaking to improve spill response capabilities for non-floating oil because of the increasing transport of oil sands and diluted bitumen, known as dilbit. Depending

(Photo: Moira Harrington)

Revving Up a New ROV

Historical Society. She packed along bright yellow bags complete with Mylar clipboards used to sketch wrecks and measuring tapes that define watery archaeological sites. Kiefer wasn’t scuba diving for the day, so the group would explore via the ROV.Kiefer had also participated in the 2017 Lake Michigan Denis Sullivan excursion and was happy to reunite with Kurth and Nelson for the day’s quest for underwater treasures.“I learned a lot from the teachers on that cruise and I want to continue that learning,” Kiefer said. She said she was looking forward to seeing how the educators

© BJ Ray / Adobe Stock

How Could a ‘Sand Motor’ Help the Great Lakes?

;   Shea, a sophomore from Holmen, Wis., who is majoring in civil and environmental engineering, will present her findings at UW-Madison's Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 13.    Major questions under consideration include whether a Dutch-style sand motor could work along Lake Michigan and what implementation challenges it might present. "It's a rough, theoretical, 'Is this worth looking into?' type of study," said Shea.   While bluff erosion is a concern, lack of bluff erosion can also be problematic. "Using traditional gray seawalls and those kinds of structures

(Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

600 Gallons of Coolant Spills into Straits of Mackinac

Hundreds of gallons of mineral oil has been released from a leaking underwater utility line in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac, this week.    Initial reports from the responsible party, American Transmission Company (ATC), indicate that approximately 600 gallons of product has been released, with maximum spill potential of more than 4,000 gallons.   The U.S. Coast Guard said it has established a Unified Command comprised of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, county emergency managers, local tribes, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S.

Erie Hack was a $100,000 innovation challenge that activated more than 200 techies, creative thinkers, entrepreneurs and environmentalists from six cities around in the U.S. and Canada to tackle Lake Erie’s key challenges with creative tech solutions. (© Gerald Bernard / Adobe Stock)

Erie Hack: The Start to the Smart Lake

(HABs), the type of ecological disaster that deprived Toledo residents of public water in 2014. Current research suggests that blooms of this scale will become an annual norm, threatening a regional loss of $1.3 billion over the next 30 years. This looming crisis has prompted the governments of Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to pledge a 40% reduction in nutrient pollution of Lake Erie by 2025.   CWA and DigitalC saw that the Erie Hack teams were onto something; projects funded by these regional governments, like the Sandusky Bay Initiative, are placing Lake Erie at the cutting edge of nutrient pollution

Choctaw. Photo: Ocean Explorer, NOAA

Two Shipwrecks Found in Lake Huron

nominated for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.   Funded by a grant from NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, the project was made possible through research partnerships with NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, University of Delaware, Michigan Technological University, Northwest Michigan College, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  

Phase IV started with a series of ‘work-up’ dives used to practice technical diving techniques and refine the photogrammetric imagery acquisition protocols before visiting deeper sites. Here, NOAA Diver Joe Hoyt swims above the debris field off the stern of wooden bulk carrier New Orleans. He maintains a consistent altitude off the bottom, necessary to ensure broader coverage of the debris field features as the relate to the main vessel remains. (Credit: NOAA, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctua

Cutting Edge Tech Helps Find Lake Huron Shipwrecks

lake floor, scanning 100-square miles in the heart of the sanctuary. The result of these scans is a huge archive of data that the team must process, review and use to pinpoint the locations of potential shipwreck discoveries.   Afterwards, the project’s chief scientist, Dr. Guy Meadows of Michigan Technological University’s Great Lakes Research Center, arrived to lead the project’s third phase. Thunder Bay’s John Bright says “there is always a trade-off with marine remote sensing. These tools capture either a wide area at lower resolution or a narrow area at higher

Quagga mussels (Photo: GLERL-NOAA)

Tiny Quagga Mussels Have a Big Impact

Tiny quagga mussels have a big impact on Lake Michigan . . . and perhaps climate change.   As prior researchers have demonstrated, Wisconsin Sea Grant researchers further confirm that the tiny quagga mussel has an outsize impact on Lake Michigan. What’s novel about the study team’s work is the exploration of the age-old biological truth: what goes in must come out. They found the invasive mussels’ sheer numbers and feeding efficiency are changing the lake’s ecosystem dynamics, and perhaps the climate, as well.   Laodong Guo and his graduate student Stephen DeVilbiss

Photo: NOAA

Scientists Predict Third Largest GoM ‘Dead Zone’

for the USGS Water Mission Area.   The partners plan to confirm the size of the 2017 Gulf dead zone in early August, following monitoring surveys.   The ensemble of models that are the foundation of the forecast was developed by NOAA-sponsored teams of researchers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University, Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences/College of William and Mary, Texas A&M University, North Carolina State University and the USGS.   To help reduce nutrient runoff, NOAA provides information to farmers through

A diver surveys the wreck of Lucinda Van Valkenburg, a wooden three-masted schooner that sank just north of Middle Island in 1887. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

History Meets Technology in Shipwreck Alley

a research vessel from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab. Expected results of this phase of work will be a number of “targets,” or non-natural items, discovered along the lake floor.   The third phase of work, from June 19 through 30, brings in another partner, Michigan Technological University. They will provide an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to investigate targets identified by the sonar operations that take place in May. This AUV system provides high-resolution sonar images of the targets, aiding in identification of shipwrecks.   The final phase

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