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Your November Update

Save the Date for the GLOS 2022 Annual Meeting and Seagull Launch - April 28

After many, many months of connecting only virtually with much of the GLOS community, we’re excited to announce that the 2022 GLOS annual meeting will be held in Chicago on April 28.

Join us at the Pendry Hotel or virtually to hear the latest from GLOS staff, board, and IOOS leadership on what we have accomplished in the last year, and where we’re heading in the near future. Then, be part of the official Seagull launch party, when the platform will move out of its Beta phase and be ready for everyone to use region-wide!

Stay tuned: During the week of April 28th, we are also hosting some other exciting opportunities to connect around water data, Lakebed 2030, and more.

Most seasonal platforms are out of the water for the season

A RAEON Lake Erie buoy was recovered completely covered in mussels that have to be power-washed away once back at the lab. Photo by RAEON

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With cold weather rolling in and water temperatures dropping, buoy operators across the region have brought most of their buoys and other seasonal platforms back to labs and garages for the winter.

For buoys and other monitoring platforms, this labor-intensive and potentially dangerous process involves cruising out to the mooring, detaching the buoy, hauling it back to port, loading it onto a truck, and driving it back to the lab where the process of cleaning, repairing, and upgrading can begin.

A special thanks to all those who do this work every year to keep data flowing all season long!

The crew of the Neeskay from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences prepares to recover the Atwater Buoy in Lake Michigan. Photo by Jeffrey Houghton
In Lake Michigan, Jeffrey Houghton, Instrument Maker, and Capt. Geoff Anderson, both from UWM, work on the Atwater buoy mooring during the recovery mission. Video by Mark Lausten, UWM, captured using an ROV
The RAEON crew recovers an underwater glider after a mission in Lake Ontario. Photo by RAEON
We asked a few buoy operators around the observing system “How’d recovery season go?” and here’s what they said:

“The 2021 recovery season, although a great success overall, was bittersweet for us as it marked the final few cruises with our beloved Capt. Geoff Anderson, now retired. His last hoorah with us included an impromptu recovery dive on the ATW20m buoy on a not-so-particularly great weather day. Geoff’s years of experience, wealth of seafaring knowledge, unflappable nature, great sense of humor, and general can-do attitude will be sorely missed.” -Jessica Grow, Associate Researcher and Marine Technician at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences

“We manage approximately 12 buoys on Lakes Superior and Michigan and have so far retrieved 5 of them (all on Lake Superior)...With water temperatures being at record-high levels this fall on Lake Superior, we’ve been trying to leave the buoys in as late as possible in part because the NOAA buoys in western, central, and eastern Lake Superior all came out so early this year (in late October).” -John Lenters, Associate Research Scientist at Michigan Tech.

“The lake is unpredictable in the fall but we persisted and got everything out of the water (seven buoys).” -Katelynn Johnson, Research and Operations Director at RAEON

"We are all a bit exhausted by this point in the year, but no doubt I'll be wishing the ice away before I know it. Recovery season requires obsessive weather watching and always having a bag packed for when the window opens. It might blow 25 knots for weeks on end and keep you tied to the dock. Maybe it's going to snow next week. If you told younger me, dreading a standard engineering career, that this is what my fall would look like - I'd say you were crazy. But I'm glad I don't have to call you crazy." -Hayden Henderson, Research Engineer at the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR)

Smart Great Lakes featured on TVO's The Agenda
On Tuesday, GLOS CEO Kelli Paige joined Smart Great Lakes partners Barbara Wall, Aaron Fisk, and Mark Fisher to talk about technology, collaboration, and how the initiative came to be.

The first buoy to transmit directly to Seagull is now live

The OMECC_E1 Buoy floats in the Canadian Side of central Lake Erie and is the first buoy to send data directly to Seagull.

Read the web version

Platform operators will soon have a simpler, stabler, more secure way to share data from their buoy or other observing platform with the rest of the observing community: by sending it directly to Seagull.

Part of the backend innovation that has GLOS and partners excited about this new platform is the ability to send data from a data logger, for example, on a buoy, to the Seagull cloud, without any processes in the middle.

In the past, data has flowed to GLOS servers via file transfer protocol (FTP), which essentially means that for Barb, a buoy operator, to share data, it went like this: 

  1. Barb’s Buoy sends data to Barb’s computer.

  2. Barb’s computer processes the data and sends it to a shared folder on GLOS’ server. 

  3. GLOS unpacks that file, formats it, and stores it. 

  4. GLOS displays it on an app, like GL Buoys.

This worked well most of the time, and is still how almost all the observing system shares data, but it has a few drawbacks, including being more easily hacked or spoofed and more prone to outages if the data provider’s computer goes down, or if GLOS servers have a rough day.

Now, in Seagull, data can be sent directly, using the much more secure data transfer method called HTTPS—the same way your web browser ensures you are visiting real, secure websites. So data flows more like this:

  1. Barb’s buoy sends data to Seagull and, optionally, to her own computer.

  2. Seagull displays the data on the web app.

Once sent, the data can be processed, stored, and displayed thanks to Seagull’s resilient, scalable cloud infrastructure.

This year, to help begin the transition to Seagull, GLOS funded three new HTTPS-capable data loggers for a Lake Erie buoy from the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks.

“The data from this buoy helps us understand the nature of adverse water quality events, monitor and respond to these events, and assess the need for additional monitoring or studies in the area,” said Michael Taché, a lead technologist with the ministry.

Taché and the rest of the ministry team operate four buoys and wanted to connect them to GLOS to make their data accessible to more people.

They still send a copy of the data to their own system, but if they ever have issues, or if others outside the organization want to access real-time info, they can easily use it through Seagull, making this buoy much more resilient and valuable to the team and community. 

And this highly capable buoy already has logged several years of extremely practical, valuable data for researchers on both sides of the border.

“Recently staff at NOAA used the data from this buoy to develop a forecast model for Lake Erie and predict events that bring low-oxygen water closer to shore and water intakes,” said Taché. “The movement of deep low-oxygen water surface by currents has contributed significantly to fish deaths in the past and is associated with elevated levels of manganese and higher acidity which impact drinking water intakes and treatment.”

In Seagull, users can see data on chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen, blue-green algae, temperature, and more, as soon as it’s transmitted from the ministry’s buoy.

As the first direct Seagull connection, the process was anything but simple. The GLOS team worked with the ministry team to map each parameter of sensor-packed buoy to Seagull’s library of standard names, write some custom code, and then troubleshoot till all the data came in seamlessly.

The result? Now the GLOS team is ready to connect easily to other buoys with similar data loggers, and the expansion of Seagull into this new, more secure, more stable future underway.

“While challenging, it was a wonderful experience to work with the Ontario Ministry in getting their data directly into Seagull,” said Joe Smith, GLOS Cyberinfrastructure Engineer. “We worked through many issues, expected and unexpected, to establish a watertight connection from a common data logger to Seagull.”

Next the GLOS team will continue to streamline the process and work with partners to establish direct-to-Seagull connections for buoys, sondes, and many other observing platforms.

Curious about connecting yours? Email support@glos.org.
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P.S. What a buoy sees before being taken back to the lab for the winter. 
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