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Going global: Joining the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON)

By Courtney Wigdahl, Friends of Acadia Aquatic Scientist

The new Jordan Pond data buoy provides a number of exciting opportunities, not only for learning important information about a beautiful lake in our backyard, but also for connecting with an international system of other water quality buoys around the world. This group, called the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON), is a grassroots movement of scientists interested in using high-resolution monitoring data to improve our understanding and management of lake ecosystems. GLEON includes a network of almost 50 sites globally, including one nicknamed “Goldie the Great Pond Sentinel” that was deployed by scientists from Colby College this spring in Maine’s Great Pond.

Why data buoys? Why global?
The high-resolution information collected by a single data buoy provides a more detailed picture of what happens within lakes in response to changing environmental conditions, allowing scientists to identify how and why water quality is changing. This global network of buoys makes these data even more powerful, since we can compare different systems around the world and answer exciting research questions on a much larger scale. For example, we can compare drinking water source lakes with similar characteristics but located in different climatic regions – this allows us to see how climate may influence water quality in a very realistic way.

How does it work?
Scientists are able to work together by sharing their data. In joining GLEON, we are choosing to participate in a group that shares information in order to be able to ask (and answer) important water quality questions facing our world today. As we collect data from the Jordan Pond buoy, we can compare and contrast what is happening here in Acadia with other findings around the world. GLEON members also meet regularly in person to discuss their research, and develop new projects and ideas for applying what we have learned to real world situations. Another goal of the GLEON community is to make data accessible beyond the scientific network, sharing critical information with resource managers, teachers and students, the general public, and more.

We are looking forward to joining this exciting group of scientists, technology experts, and engineers – we have applied to present the new buoy in Jordan Pond at the upcoming GLEON meeting in Argentina this fall. For more information on GLEON, please visit


Courtney Wigdahl is the 2013 Friends of Acadia Aquatic Scientist leading the water quality monitoring efforts at Jordan Pond. Her position was made possible through a generous grant from Canon U.S.A.

Canon U.S.A.

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