New buoys in Great Lakes will remain all winter, provide novel data on ice and fish

They aren't just normal buoys that will remain in the Great Lakes this winter.

New technology has enabled scientists that study the region's hydrology to do so during the harshest times of the year by allowing buoys to operate during the winter and even under the ice.

"These are smaller buoys that are very robust. They're all encased in a plastic container. They can handle the icy conditions, we hope," said Steve Ruberg, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told FOX Weather. "This is a first we're trying to do this."

The buoys are designed to survive sub-zero temperatures and withstand ice cover. They're capable of measuring temperatures, wave height and direction. Meanwhile, there will be robots that can collect data underneath ice that forms over the lakes.

Ruberg, who works as a Great Lakes researcher for NOAA, says they're going to put the buoys to the test in Lake Michigan this winter and plan on expanding the operation to Lake Erie next. 


Invasive mussel destroying Great Lakes shipwrecks

The frigid fresh water of Lake Michigan used to be relied on to keep Great Lakes shipwrecks in pristine condition. But the quagga mussel has different ideas.

He said the data they collect will be helpful to the commercial shipping industry and the coast guard, which will be breaking ice. 

The robots that will travel underwater will measure things like ice thickness, chlorophyll content, temperatures, fish, and zooplankton - all data points that until recently scientists could never study.