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Award Supports Technology Transition to Real-World Application

Posted by: Kristin Schrader October 11, 2017
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The Great Lakes will realize faster “time to market” of environmental technology, thanks to the Ocean Technology Transition project, a federal program designed to speed theoretical technology into operation. The three-year grant totaling approximately $2.1 million is dedicated to technology addressing harmful algal blooms, or “HABs.”

“Innovative technologies can help us provide critical data that is used for understanding and managing the lakes,” said Great Lakes Observing System Executive Director Kelli Paige. “But equipment can be costly and it takes an expert team to manage the data and deliver useful information products to users. Getting support like this is crucial to helping us realize the full potential of these technologies, providing a safer Great Lakes experience for us all.”

The Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) was awarded a three-year grant to transition Lake Erie HABs early warning systems to sustainable, operational form. Harmful algal blooms in general, and cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms in freshwater, are a global public health and environmental concern. This project will deploy Environmental Sample Processors to enhance the collection and distribution of Lake Erie microcystin toxin measurements to Ohio water plant managers and other regional stakeholders before toxic blooms arrive at drinking water intakes. The project will also update the GLOS Lake Erie HABs Data Portal to enhance the distribution of data from the operational real-time sensor network and a related research-sampling and monitoring network.

“We call these devices “Labs in a Can,” said Deborah Lee, director of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Having a compact tool to deploy that will actually read samples itself, rather than us having to collect samples and take them back for evaluation, makes a big difference in responsiveness.”

NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab and Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, LimnoTech, and Cleveland Water Alliance will receive part of the first-year payment of $714K. Other partners include the University of Toledo, Heidelberg University, Bowling Green University, U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center, Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab (The Ohio State University), NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the National Weather Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Toledo Drinking Water Treatment Plant, the City of Cleveland Drinking Water Treatment Plants, and other Lake Erie drinking water treatment plants.

The Ocean Technology Transition project sponsors the transition of emerging marine observing technologies, for which there is an existing operational requirement and a demonstrated commitment to integration and use by the ocean observing community, to operational mode. The primary objective of IOOS’ OTT project is to reduce the “research to operations” transition period for ocean observing, product development, and data management technologies for the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes. The term ‘technologies’ includes: sensors, Information Technology (data management, data visualization, model transition); platform enhancement, and technology modernization efforts. Marine observation technologies include hardware and software platforms, sensors, and data transfer technologies that collect observations in the marine and Great Lakes environments. This objective is accomplished by investing in the transition of emerging and promising marine and Great Lakes observing technological capabilities from the mid to latter phases of research into operational status.