The purpose of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) between the United States and Canada is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. In response to reporting requirements of the GLWQA, the biennial State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conferences (SOLEC) were established to provide independent, science-based reporting on the state of health of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem. The next SOLEC will be held in October 2008, in Niagara Falls, Canada. Assessments of the condition of Great Lakes ecosystem components will again be based on a set of indicators, with a special focus on “The Nearshore.” Approximately 400 people are expected to attend, representing federal, state, provincial and municipal governments, non-government environmental organizations, industry, academic institutions and private citizens.
To obtain some of the data reported through SOLEC and the subsequent State of the Great Lakes reports, the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO) monitors the chemistry and biology of the Great Lakes. Part of work is accomplished onboard our large research ship, the R/V Lake Guardian. Water samples are analyzed for nutrients and standard limnological parameters. Zooplankton tows, benthos (Ponar) grabs, and phytoplankton composites are analyzed for their respective biological components. The assessments include statistical analysis and generation of reports.
The overall objective of this project is to participate with SOLEC organizers to ensure that the many facets of planning and conducting an international conference on the state of the Great Lakes, SOLEC 2008, are fully successful. Project elements may include, but not be limited to: scientific literature searches and identification of sources of environmental data, development of Great Lakes environmental indicators and indices, collection and analysis of environmental data, preparation of reports on environmental indicators, and participation in pre-conference activities. The project will involve field work onboard the R/V Lake Guardian, including chemical and biological sampling. To complete project elements in a timely manner, the Intern (ORISE Fellow) will apply and extend analytical, organizational and communication skills and technical knowledge.
The Intern will assist GLNPO staff scientists in the planning and conducting of activities leading to SOLEC 2008, and in the collection, analysis and reporting of environmental data. Specific tasks and learning opportunities may include, but not be limited to:
· Conducting a literature search for information on specific environmental indicators of the Great Lakes
· Preparing indicator reports, including data source identification, retrieval and analysis
· Participating in the selection of environmental indicators for Great Lakes basin forests, tributaries, non-native species, or other ecosystem components
· Assisting SOLEC organizers (including other U.S. and Canadian agencies) to plan and implement various activities in support of SOLEC, for example: organizing and attending videoconferences and meetings, tracking scheduled tasks, and assisting the preparation of presentations and background materials
· Assisting in sampling water and biota of the Great Lakes, prepare sample plans, maintain and use instrumentation, computerize and review data, participate in statistical analysis of data, and prepare reports. Participation in field sampling requires living onboard the R/V Lake Guardian for extended periods of time on any or all of the Great Lakes
A fully successful assessment of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem components is expected through the SOLEC process. The assistance of the Intern will help ensure that SOLEC participants will engage in an interactive, informative conference and will receive information useful to their responsibilities for the management of components of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
A busy field year is expected, requiring assistance from the Intern to successfully obtain and process high quality data on the chemical and biological health of the Great Lakes. The Intern will also contribute to the success of research projects carried out onboard the R/V Lake Guardian.
Benefits to the ORISE Intern:
During this project the Intern will:
· Develop knowledge about the many complex elements of the Great Lakes ecosystem
· Increase skills in data analysis and reporting
· Learn the many facets required to plan and implement a complex project
· Develop skills and responsibilities for working as part of an international team
· Develop skills to coordinate scientific projects
· Obtain professional contacts throughout the Great Lakes scientific community
· Increase field methodology skills
· Increase personal sense of professional responsibility
Impact on protecting and enhancing the environment:
The biennial SOLEC conferences are major venues for the exchange of information and ideas between environmental managers, decision makers, and other interested stakeholders throughout the Great Lakes basin. Conference attendees strongly influence the programs and activities in and around the Great Lakes that impact the maintenance, protection and/or restoration of components of the Great Lakes ecosystem. The SOLEC process facilitates information exchange that leads to better or more efficient management activities.
The GLNPO open lakes monitoring program is one of the longest running in the country. It has documented, for example, the effects of reduced phosphorus input to the lakes, the levels of contaminants in lake water, the invasions of non-native species, the importance of urban areas as sources of atmospheric contaminants, and the decline of the amphipod, Diporeia sp., in several of the Great Lakes.
· Baccalaureate degree received or studies substantially completed in, or related to, limnology, environmental science, biology, chemistry, natural resources, or environmental engineering
· Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English (a writing sample may be requested)
· Ability to quickly learn computer software programs as needed, e.g., statistical analysis, scientific graphing, GIS, presentations
· Willingness to reside and work onboard the R/V Lake Guardian during sampling activities
· Basic knowledge of components of the Great Lakes basin ecosystems, including aspects of biology, water chemistry, toxic chemicals, habitats, watersheds, and human society
· Computer skills, including proficiency in word processing (such as WordPerfect and Microsoft Word), spreadsheet manipulation (such as Microsoft Excel), and presentation software (PowerPoint)
· Pleasant and cooperative inter-personal skills
· Ability to travel overnight to attend occasional meetings around the Great Lakes, including in Canada
· Experience in field work—biological and chemical sampling of lakes
As the U.S. Office responsible for implementing the monitoring provisions of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, GLNPO has a fundamental role to collect and disseminate data on the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes waters. The primary domain of the GLNPO monitoring program is the open, offshore waters of the Great Lakes, exploiting the capabilities of the research vessel R/V Lake Guardian. GLNPO also supports the Great Lakes Fish Contaminants Monitoring Program and the International Atmospheric Deposition Network. Currently, GLNPO and other federal and state environmental agencies are investigating methods to more rigorously conduct monitoring activities in nearshore areas, embayments, tributaries, etc. The specific activities in which GLNPO engages are determined in large measure by the data and information needed to support the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, Lakewide Management Plans, and other specific needs of our federal and state partners. GLNPO is also a sponsor and organizer of the biennial State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC), for which the “health” of the Great Lakes ecosystem components is assessed and reported through a series of indicators.
The R/V Lake Guardian is a 180 ft. research vessel owned by the U.S. EPA, Great Lakes National Program Office. The ship is operated under contract by Cetacean Marine. The ship carries an operating crew of 12 and up to 22 scientists. There are 16 sleeping rooms on the Lake Guardian, divided between scientists and crew. Rooms are similarly equipped, and include bunks, desks, lockers, and computer LAN connections. Rooms have their own bathrooms with shower, or two rooms share a bathroom. Accommodations and recreation, exercise, and meal facilities aboard the Lake Guardian are excellent.
The U.S. EPA, Great Lakes National Program Office is located in downtown Chicago, IL, at 77 W. Jackson Boulevard. For more information, view our website at: www.epa.gov/glnpo