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Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

July 11, 2002
Thomas C. Johnson, DIrector, Large Lakes Observatory, (218) 726-8128
Susan Beasy Latto, Direcotr, UMD Public Relations (218) 726-8830

Scientists Study Large Lakes of the World at Workshop in Duluth

Duluth, MN --- A few large lakes scattered across the continents make up a surprisingly high percentage of the world's surface fresh water. Lake Baikal, in Russia, the Laurentian Great Lakes of North America, and the great lakes of the East African Rift Valley (Tanganyika, Malawi, Victoria, Kivu, Edward and Albert) comprise more than two thirds of the world's surface fresh water. As our supply of fresh water continues to dwindle, these lakes will undoubtedly be viewed as potential reservoirs of convenience. How would their ecosystems respond to major withdrawals of water? How are these grand lakes responding to global warming?

In order to answer these and other important questions, twenty scientists will attend a Large Lakes Workshop at the Large Lakes Observatory of the University of Minnesota Duluth on Sun., Mon. and Tues., July 14, 15 and 16. Guests include Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar, UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin and Dr. Herman Zimmerman, Director of the Earth Sciences Division, National Science Foundation, who will present the opening session at 8:30 am on Sunday, July 14 in Fourth Floor Rotunda of the UMD Library.

Large lakes research provides us with amazing insights into an aquatic realm that has existed for thousands, and in some lakes, millions, of years. These lakes provide isolated habitat where new species of fish and invertebrates have evolved. The deep, dark abyss of Superior and other large lakes is surprisingly dynamic, with occasional storms that scour the lake floor. Sediments that accumulate on the floor of the deep basins tell a fascinating story of how climate and the lake ecosystems have changed through time. But basic large lakes research provides more than the wonder of discovery; it serves as the basis for assessing human impact on large-lake ecosystems, and for developing sound policy for protecting these invaluable bodies of fresh water as our global environment evolves.

The workshop co-convenors recognize that basic research on the large lakes of the world lags behind ocean research. For instance, far less is known about the biology and physics of Lake Superior than is known about these aspects of the Indian Ocean. In fact, less that five percent of NSF ocean sciences budget funding goes to studies of large lakes.

The outcome of this workshop will include an informative science and implementation plan that will address the basic research needs in the biology, chemistry, geology and physics of large lake systems, including the lakes, their watersheds, and interactions with the atmosphere. The UMD Large Lakes Observatory expects to have this document ready for publication by mid-September 2002. Of special concern is the need for enhanced funding for large lakes research by the National Science Foundation

The co-convenors of this workshop are
Thomas C. Johnson, Large Lakes Observatory, UMD
Paul A. Baker, Dept. Ocean and Earth Sciences, Duke University
J. Val Klump, Water Institute, University Wisconsin Milwaukee
David K. Rea, Dept. Geological Sciences, University Michigan
and Sarah Green, Dept. Chemistry, Michigan Technological University

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Attendee Name, Institution, Specialty
Tom Johnson, LLO-UMD, geological limnology
Paul Baker, Duke geological limnology/oceanography
Val Klump, Water Inst. - UWM, chemical limnology
Dave Rea, U. Michigan, geological limnology/oceanography
Sarah Green, Michigan Tech, chemical limnology
Sally McIntyre UCSB physical limnology
Joe Niebauer, U. Wisconsin, physical limnology
Elise Ralph, LLO-UMD, physical limnology
Jim McManus, Oregon State, chemical limnology/oceanography
Jon Cole, Inst. Ecosyst. Stud., aquatic ecology
Bob Sterner, U. MN, biological limnology
David Jude, U. Mich., fish ecology
Jim Churchill, WHOI physical oceanography
Ray Weiss, Scripps Inst. Oceanog. chemical oceanography
Chris Scholz, Syracuse, geological limnology
Bob Hecky, Univ. Waterloo, biological limnology
John Janssen, Water Inst. - UWM, biological limnology
Noel Urban, Michigan Tech, chemical limnology
Hans Paerl, Univ. North Carolina, biological oceanography
John Swenson, LLO-UMD, sedimentary geology
Herm Zimmerman NSF-EAR, Earth Sciences Division, NSF

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