Leading researchers from across Canada and the United States will now be equipped with state-of-the-art resources thanks to a project launched by the University of Windsor.
Aaron Fisk, the Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Changing Great Lakes Ecosystems, officially launched the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network (RAEON) on Friday.
“RAEON will support comprehensive and multidisciplinary research to understand and manage the Great Lakes and will be a reference for researchers worldwide who are investigating freshwater ecosystems,” Dr. Fisk said.
The project received $15.9 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI); Ontario’s Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science; and the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth and will allow Fisk and his team of researchers from Carleton, Trent, and Western universities, and collaborators from the United States, to create a network of real-time sensors, autonomous sub-surface vehicles, and an extensive collection of independent instruments.
“The Great Lakes are one of the most important natural resources on the planet,” said UWindsor president Alan Wildeman. “Fisk and his colleagues will be able to collect data never before attainable, that will inform future decision making on preserving the viability of the lakes. I thank CFI and the Ontario Ministries for their support of this extraordinary project.”
UWindsor president Alan Wildeman congratulates Aaron Fisk during the official launch of the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network on Friday, March 16.
Fisk said the most significant challenge for researchers in the next 20 years will be understanding the impacts of the rapid changes in ecosystem processes and function associated with climate change and maintaining ecosystem services.
Among the many areas to be studied, Fisk said the new infrastructure and data management will assist in forecasting and responding to current threats like nutrient pollution and early detection of future threats, such as Asian carp.
“This network will give leaders in government, industry and even individual Canadian households the comprehensive science-based data they need to make effective, responsive policy and management decisions,” Fisk said.
A portion of the funding will also go to build a 223-square metre addition to the University of Windsor’s existing Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre in LaSalle.
Trevor Pitcher, acting executive director of the Great Lakes institute for Environmental Research, gives opening remarks at the launch of the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network on Friday, March 16.
This addition will provide space for preparing, calibrating and maintaining the RAEON instruments and equipment, preparation and surgeries related to telemetry and bio-logging applications and developing, storing and analyzing collected samples associated with the network’s research program.
“This collaborative hub will enable researchers to join forces in understanding our freshwater ecosystems,” said Roseann O’Reilly Runte, president and CEO of the CFI.
“RAEON’s state-of-the-art infrastructure will push the boundaries of aquatic research and technology development, reinforcing Canada’s position as a leader in environmental stewardship and a global destination for service and innovation.”
Brad Cardinale, director of the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research at the University of Michigan, speaks during the launch of the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network on Friday, March 16.
Natalie Klinard, Master's student and member of the Fisk Lab research team, addresses the audience during the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network launch.
Brian Masse, MP for Windsor-West, gives congratulatory remarks during the official launch of the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network.
Members of the media scrum Dr. Fisk following the official launch of the Real-time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network.