The Jefferson Project at Lake George—a Partnership Between Rensselaer, IBM Research, and The Fund for Lake George.
Scientific insights and technology created for the project will not only help manage and protect one of America’s most famous lakes, but also will create a blueprint to preserve important lakes, rivers, and other bodies of fresh water around the globe. To better understand Lake George, researchers are collecting massive amounts of data within the watershed. A network of sensors on land, in streams, and in the lake measures a diverse array of variables related to weather, water runoff, water circulation, and water quality. Individual sensors communicate with one another and IBM and Rensselaer researchers, helping to make decisions about what to sample, where to sample, and how often to sample.
Thirty-five years of monitoring the chemistry and algae in Lake George by scientists at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, with support from The FUND for Lake George, have demonstrated that the lake is changing. Chloride inputs from road salt have tripled, algae have increased 33 percent, and invasive species have taken hold. The critical question is: How do those changes relate to the past, present, and future of Lake George? By creating a high-resolution view of the lake’s ecosystem, the Jefferson Project provides the knowledge that enables informed decisions to protect the Queen of American Lakes.
The Margaret A. and David M. Darrin ’40 Fresh Water Institute, led by Rick Relyea, the David M. Darrin ’40 Senior Endowed Chair, who also leads the Jefferson Project, is a multidisciplinary environmental research center dedicated to understanding the structure and function of aquatic, terrestrial, and atmospheric systems. The primary focus is on the ecological consequences of environmental perturbations due to human activities.