Lake platform reports daily on Twitter, website

The Upper Saranac Lake Environmental Monitoring Platform is moored in 90 feet of water in the lake’s South Basin and is part of one of the oldest monitoring programs in the Adirondacks. (Provided photo — AWI/Brendan Wiltse)

PAUL SMITHS — The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute has launched a new interactive website to display near real-time data on water quality and weather conditions on Upper Saranac Lake.

The Environmental Monitoring Platform on Upper Saranac Lake is an autonomous, in-lake station that uses state-of-the-art technology to continuously monitor the lake ecosystem and weather around the lake. Upper Saranac Lake, along with Lake George and Lake Champlain, are the only lakes within the region to have such technology.

“Upper Saranac Lake is among the largest interior lakes in the Adirondacks and has a history of algal blooms and low dissolved oxygen that stress native cold-water fishes such as lake trout,” said Guy Middleton, lake manager for the Upper Saranac Foundation. “The platform is helping to document the recovery of the lake.”

AWI recently upgraded the platform’s website to allow the public and scientists interested in watershed management to access meteorological information and physical, chemical, and biological conditions on the lake in nearly real time.

AWI’s senior research scientist, Brendan Wiltse has led this effort.

“Developing a website to provide near real-time reporting of the data from the platform has been a significant challenge over the past five years,” Wiltse said. “We rebuilt the entire data handling systems and website in house. With this new architecture in place, we are able to build out new functionality of the platform much more quickly.”

Over the past 20 years, AWI has worked closely with the Upper Saranac Foundation and has documented significant improvements in water quality in the lake, but the future may hold challenges due to climate change, increased development, and expanded recreational use of the lake. The monitoring platform is outfitted with a sensor suite specifically designed to understand these threats.

In addition to the website, the platform has been handed its own Twitter account (@USLPlatform) and given autonomous control of it. Currently, the platform tweets out current conditions twice daily along with a photo from its main camera.

“The long-term goal is to give the platform the ability to dynamically respond to user messages through Twitter. You can imagine something akin to ‘Hey, Google’ where users send the platform a direct message through Twitter asking for wind conditions and it replies back with the most recent data,” Wiltse said.

“We have an amazing piece of technology on Upper Saranac Lake continuously collecting important scientific data,” said AWI Executive Director Dan Kelting. “That’s the easy part, making that data useful to the general public and broadly available is a big challenge, but this new interactive website allows the public, whether they be shore owners or scientists from the other side of the planet, to view much more of the data being collected.”

“The scientific justification for the platform is clear, it collects data essential to our mission of preserving the water quality of the lake,” added Middleton. “Also, if you are a lake user who wants to know if the water is warm enough to swim, if it’s windy enough for sailing, if the garden needs watering based on recent rainfall, or a fisherman who wants to know the depth of the thermocline, the platform’s website or Twitter feed will give you the information you are looking for.”

AWI launched the platform in May 2017 with support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Upper Saranac Foundation. More information about the Upper Saranac Environmental Monitoring Platform, along with the near real-time data, can be found at uppersaranacmonitoring.com.

The mission of the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed institute is to protect clean water, conserve habitat and support the health and well-being of people in the Adirondacks through scientific inquiry, stewardship, and real-world experiences for students. Learn more at www.adkwatershed.org.

The Upper Saranac Foundation is a not-for-profit science guided organization seeking to preserve, enhance and protect the natural beauty, environmental quality and recreational enjoyment of the Upper Saranac Lake watershed. Learn more at usfoundation.net.


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