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Equipment installed for Great Lakes Monitoring Initiative

By Valerie MacDonald, Northumberland Today

The Ministry of Environment's Sarah Mackell and Derek Smith are pictured making additions to the ever-growing weather station at the GRCA's Port Hope headquarters as part of the Great Lakes Monitoring Initiative. Pieces of soil temperature reading and solar radiation monitoring equipment were being installed Wednesday.
VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today

The Ministry of Environment's Sarah Mackell and Derek Smith are pictured making additions to the ever-growing weather station at the GRCA's Port Hope headquarters as part of the Great Lakes Monitoring Initiative. Pieces of soil temperature reading and solar radiation monitoring equipment were being installed Wednesday. VALERIE MACDONALD/Northumberland Today

PORT HOPE - 

Ministry of Environment employees were installing more data-gathering equipment at the GRCA’s Port Hope headquarters Wednesday as part of the Great Lakes Monitoring Initiative.

Sarah Mackell and Derek Smith were adding soil temperature and solar radiation collecting equipment to the weather station that was installed just off the parking lot about a year ago.

The station has been collecting data about wind speed and direction, air temperatures, precipitation and relative humidity 24 hours a day since its installation, but more information is needed for the Great Lakes initiative, Smith explained.

The initiative is all about water quality, he said.

GRCA water technician Mike Smith says the collaboration “helps us to understand when there will be runoff, for example in rain situations, and the impact on the watershed which is the GRCA’s jurisdiction.”

The new equipment also will identify “when the first frost is coming out of the ground” which also impacts runoff, Smith said in an interview.

According to the Environment Canada and Climate change website, “the Great Lakes are a vast shared resource containing a significant portion of the world’s freshwater. They are fundamental to the well-being of many Canadians and Americans, and they sustain a rich variety of plants and animals. The Great Lakes provide the foundation for billions of dollars in economic activity, and they are a direct source of drinking water for 10 million Canadians.

“The sustainability of the Great Lakes ecosystem is threatened. The ecosystem continues to experience ongoing biological, physical and chemical stresses, as well as new and emerging challenges like invasive alien species, new chemical contaminants and the impacts of climate change.

“To address these challenges, science, governance and action are essential to the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.”

In addition to monitoring on land, like that being done by the Ontario environment ministry at the GRCA site at Port Hope along Lake Ontario, monitoring is also underway at 100 designated Lake Ontario locations this year.

vmacdonald@postmedia.com