The New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund has awarded Clarkson professors Philip K. Hopke and Michael R. Twiss grants of $10,000 each to support research that protects, promotes and enhances the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River ecosystem.
Just how important is the health of the Great Lakes to New Yorkers? Consider this, approximately 80 percent of the state's fresh surface water, over 700 miles of shoreline, and 40 percent of the state's land (spanning 25 counties) are contained in the drainage basins of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River. This is the water New Yorkers use for drinking and cooking, for recreation, to generate power, operate industries, grow crops, and to support healthy natural ecosystems. Clean water is essential to local economies.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Web site, "The New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund provides a perpetual and dependable source of funding for regional and statewide research and field assessment projects aimed at protecting and conserving the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem within New York state. The Fund supports projects between government, academia, industry, and non-governmental groups to conduct research and exchange/apply information about remediating and sustaining the health of the plant, animal and human elements of New York's Great Lakes ecosystem."
NOAA is a federal agency within the Department of Commerce whose mission is "To understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our nation's economic, social and environmental needs."
Hopke is the Bayard D. Clarkson Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of Clarkson University's Center for Air Resources Engineering and Science (CARES). He will lead a team of researchers from Clarkson University and will be joined by researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center to measure dry deposition and high resolution speciated mercury concentrations in Rochester. As part of the project, Hopke and the other researchers will evaluate new sophisticated source apportionment tools to determine the major sources contributing to ambient mercury concentrations. The group will also use meteorological modeling to learn how these data can be used to determine the relative importance of local mercury emissions versus regional emissions versus mercury from global sources. The data collected by the researchers will be used to develop a more comprehensive proposal on determining the sources and importance of dry deposition of mercury to the Great Lakes.
Two additional grants were given to researchers from SUNY Fredonia to identify the sources of E. coli in Lake Erie beaches and to study Lake Erie smallmouth bass tributary stock to gain an understanding of the fish's genetics. The Niagara County Soil and Water Conservation District will also be funded to conduct a survey of angler awareness of the Eighteen Mile Creek AOC advisory "Eat no amount of any species at any time" that exists because of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and toxins found in fish flesh.