Lake Champlain Research Consortium Priorities 2004

Hydrodynamics and Sediment Dynamics


Following the 2004 Priorities meeting, LCRC determined that

Missisquoi Bay would be a high priority for research for the next several years –

see “program 1” below and also see PRIME



  1. Develop predictive modeling capabilities with fully three-dimensional numerical models, such as the Princeton Ocean Model.  Simpler models, both numerical and analytical, should also be encouraged as part of a suite of tools for gaining insight into lake physics.  A significant observational database for currents, temperature, and meteorology should exist and be used in helping to test model adequacy.  Once the adequacy of the hydrodynamic model is established additional model enhancements that include various biogeochemical processes of interest should be included as dictated by data and theory.  Research that attempts to synthesize existing data should be explored on a regular basis for both assessing the current level of knowledge and understanding of lake physics and for identifying major observational data needs.


  1. Continue to develop and apply new techniques and instrumentation for exploring both the main body of Lake Champlain and also other regions of the lake that have received little attention in the fields of hydrodynamics and sediment movement. Examples of some of these would be basic observations in the Restricted Arm, causeway effects on flow dynamics, long-term flow meters at the causeways, insitu measurements of sediment characteristics, interpretation of sidescan sonar records for paleo- and present-day currents, lagrangian observations (surface and sub-surface), and acoustic thermometry of the lake. Future research that focuses on observational data must be jointly supported by addressing larger to whole-lake scale issues through state-of-the-art numerical models.


  1. Maintain and enhance over water meteorological measurements in support of both hydrodynamic and atmospheric research.  Accurate knowledge of the meteorological forcing on Lake Champlain is a critical part of the potential success for any numerical modeling efforts on lake circulation and mixing. The observational network should be of sufficient spatial resolution to resolve the major features of Lake Champlain’s meteorology. Present estimates are that 3-4 more sites on the lake should be established, particularly in the Inland Sea, Missisquoi Bay, Crown Point Bridge and the South Lake.


  1. Establish long-term monitoring sites for investigating the interannual variability in thermal structure and for establishing a database suitable for climatology studies at 2 or 3 sites within the lake. Most of the existing data collected on Lake Champlain has been seasonal in nature and there is a need for continuous time-series observations. If at all possible, these site should have real-time downlink capabilities.


  1. Establish an easily accessible, publicly available, database for Lake Champlain research data.  Preferably it would be a web site such as the LCRC and visitors to the web site would be able to download various types of data that have been collected since the LCRC began.  Principal Investigators would be allowed proprietary use of their data but after a certain time period, for example one to three years, it would be made available to the public via the chosen web site.  This would make it significantly easier for researchers to participate in Lake Champlain studies from both within and without the current Lake Champlain community.



Interdisciplinary Research with Hydrodynamics – Program 1 – Missisquoi Bay


            1) The most beneficial and overarching program would be that of the “Cause and Effect of Missisquoi Bay Algal Blooms”. This is a very visible topic that virtually all funding sources can participate in and would also be international in its makeup. Pertinent questions that could be asked for the various divisions would be:

 Nutrients, Lower Food Web, Toxics, Ecosystem Health, and Fish:

1) Does the wind driven circulation provide observable change in the food web?

2) Does wind-driven circulation provide observable changes in the distribution of cyanobacteria?

3) Can some of the older (previously mapped) and/or newer carcinogens be found in the region?

Sediment, Sediment Resuspension and Land Use:

1) Do sediment resuspension events occur?

2) If so, do they pump nutrients into the water?

3) What are the influx dynamics of water, sediment and chemicals entering the region?


1) What would be the concurrent assessment of policy and public views of recreation and the regional environment?

Satellite Imagery:

1) What is the fate of the sediment (nutrient) plumes into the bay?

2) Is there a mean or general observable circulation pattern in the bay?

3) Can algal blooms (safe versus harmful) be accurately defined in the region?


1) A new met station should be established to provide needed wind forcing data for the concurrent measurements made by the various disciplines.


1) Are there cultural artifacts in the bay that need to be catalogued?


Interdisiplinary Research with Hydrodynamics – Program 2 – Whole Lake


      1) Work with the atmospherics division to establish more met stations on the lake in an effort to improve modeling efforts of both the atmospherics and hydrodynamics divisions. A useful byproduct would be the enhanced weather information out to the public.

2) The installation of a wave-height measuring system near the Colchester Reef met station. This would be directly linked to the met station and would provide real-time information. Usefulness would be to the hydrodynamics division and the general public.


Interdisiplinary Research with Hydrodynamics – Program 2 – Data Management


      1) Work with Vermont and NewYork GIS facilities to establish a hydrodynamics data base.

      2) Work with Vermont, NewYork GIS facilities, and the LCBP to plan and establish an overarching web site to Lake Champlain and its basin. This would represent the central hub that would redirect any inquiry to the proper site within the basin.