UW-Green Bay Partners with Cellcom to Monitor the Health of the Area’s Freshwater Ecosystem
Researchers use wireless sensors to study how clarity and oxygen levels impact
Lower Green Bay and the Lower Fox River
Green Bay, WI (Sept. 8, 2021)— Green Bay is part of the largest freshwater system in the world, and UW-Green Bay is partnering with Cellcom to collect and share environmental data on the health of local waterways. UW-Green Bay researchers expect the collaboration to yield important insights on the impact of low oxygen levels and water clarity to help protect the region’s freshwater ecosystem.
“We are extremely excited about the collaboration between UW-Green Bay and Cellcom,” said Michael Zorn, associate dean, College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “With real-time monitoring of relevant parameters, data is available to a wide audience of end users, along with the ability to integrate predictive models to forecast future conditions. Collectively, we can use this data to manage, restore and protect our region’s freshwater.”
Cellcom and UW-Green Bay are currently partnering on two environmental projects to secure measurements in Green Bay and the Lower Fox River.
Understanding dead zones created by low oxygen levels
The bay of Green Bay is relatively shallow — an average of just 30 feet —making it susceptible to oxygen deficiency, commonly referred to as dead zones. Fertilizer runoff from farms and cities carries excess nutrients to lakes and bays, which promotes rapid growth of harmful algae blooms. The algae settle to the bottom and deplete the oxygen in water as it decays. Dead zones have oxygen levels that are low enough to kill fish. Warm water temperatures can also stimulate algae growth and reduce the amount of oxygen that water can hold.
UW-Green Bay researchers are deploying buoy platforms with sensors in lower Green Bay. The real-time monitoring will help identify pockets of low oxygen that result in fish kills as they travel and will provide further insights on other negative effects of dead zones, such as deterring species like lake flies that serve as a main source of food for fish.
Using clarity as a measure of water quality
Clarity is a measurement of how cloudy the water is in a lake or river. Poor water clarity can block light to aquatic plants, smother aquatic organisms, and carry contaminants such as lead, mercury, and bacteria. In addition to reducing the number of fish, poor clarity can lead to less healthy fish and fish that are less healthy to consume. UW-Green Bay will use sensors to monitor water clarity in lower Green Bay.
“Our area’s freshwater ecosystem feeds our economy, attracts tourism and provides many highly valued recreational opportunities,” said Robert Webb, vice president of innovative operations at Cellcom. “To ensure clean, healthy water, we need to understand it, measure it and guide the use of it.” The data collected by UW-Green Bay will be shared with the scientific community so researchers can build on each other’s work and used to inform and create policy to protect the area’s freshwater. “We look forward to continued collaboration with UW-Green Bay to better understand other environmental issues that impact our region,” said Webb.
“We are very fortunate to have a community partner like Cellcom to work with collaboratively on these important environmental projects,” said John Katers, dean, College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “These types of research projects provide opportunities for faculty to utilize state-of-the-art technologies to address real world problems, while also allowing students to be actively involved in the research,” said Katers. “This will not only provide data that can be shared with the scientific community as we continue to understand the dynamic conditions of the Bay of Green Bay, but also provide training for students on technologies that will be used to solve current and future environmental problems,” said Katers.
Cellcom is an innovative wireless company that provides nationwide service for its customer base throughout Wisconsin and Michigan, with more than 45 retail and agent locations. Cellcom is respected for its long-standing reputation of delivering extraordinary customer care, being a strong community partner, and for its renowned network, which is customized to its rural markets. As a subsidiary of Nsight, Cellcom is part of a family of companies offering complete telecommunications services.
About the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Established in 1965, UW-Green Bay is a public institution serving 8,970 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students and 79,604 continuing education enrollees each year across all campus locations. We educate students from pre-college through retirement and offer 200+ degrees, programs and certificates. UW-Green Bay graduates are resilient, inclusive, sustaining and engaged members of their communities, ready to rise to fearlessly face challenges, solve problems and embrace diverse ideas and people. With four campus locations, the University welcomes students from every corner of the world. In 2020, UW-Green Bay was the fastest growing UW school in Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.uwgb.edu.
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