We need your help! Our ecology staff is looking for citizen scientists to help track water levels at several DuPage forest preserve lakes as part of the international Lake Observations by Citizen Scientists & Satellites.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County is participating in the long-term study with NASA, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Washington and others.
Gauges have been installed on pier posts at Herrick Lake at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton, Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett, and Harrier Lake at Pratt’s Wayne Woods Forest Preserve in Wayne. They are among 17 Illinois lakes being monitored as part of the project.
The goal of this NASA-funded project is to better understand how the volume of water in lakes changes over time. Researchers are trying to determine why the volume of water in lakes changes over time in an effort to better understand how water moves in relation to these lakes and the surrounding land.
A LOCSS gauge is installed on a pier at Silver Lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville.
“By knowing the changes in both lake height and surface area, researchers can understand how the volume of water in a given lake is changing over time,” according to a LOCSS handout on the project. “We are studying lakes to understand how they are connected (or not), and what that means for lake users and these ecosystems.”
The project is harnessing the power of volunteer citizen scientists to gather data on water levels through July 5, 2020 to determine if water levels on the lakes are all varying together on a regional scale, or if they’re controlled by more local factors. More details can be found here (PDF).
Citizen scientists are asked to observe and report lake levels once a week and on certain target dates. To participate, volunteers need binoculars and a data sheet, smart phone or computer with internet. Visit www.locss.org/lake-data to find the lakes being studied and the locations of the gauges. At the preserve, use your binoculars to locate the “Lake Observations” sign and gauge. It’s best to take readings when the water is calm. When there are waves, observe the gauge for 30 seconds, noting the highest and lowest points in the waves. Report the average of the highest and lowest wave level.
A LOCSS gauge and sign was recently installed at Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton.