Lake Windemere in the UK’s Lake District is beautiful.
Standing alone, as from a rampart’s edge,
I overlooked the bed of Windermere,
Like a vast river, stretching in the sun.
With exultation, at my feet I saw
Lake, islands, promontories, gleaming bays,
A universe of Nature’s fairest forms
Proudly revealed with instantaneous burst,
Magnificent, and beautiful, and gay.
Thus Wordsworth described what he saw..
The UK’s Lake Ecological Observatory Network (UKLEON) also ‘looks’ at Lake Windemere and eight other lakes. Its observations are recorded less poetically than Wordsworth’s. But its data tells a story that Wordsworth missed: the story of how the lake interacts with its environment.
For example, the graph below shows the temperature of Lake Windemere at different depths below its surface. The data tell us that below 20 metres, the lake undergoes only a small seasonal temperature change. Nearer the surface the seasonal temperature changes are more dramatic, with the upper few metres showing changes of 18 °C from winter to summer.
Looking at the corresponding data for Blelham Tarn, a smaller lake which feeds into Windemere, we see strikingly similar changes but with differences that reflect the ecology of that particular lake.
UKLEON makes lots of data available to allow a wide range of studies of lake ecology. Specifically data is available on:
Air Temperature; Barometric Pressure; Wind speed; Wind Direction (from vector addition of unit length vectors); Solar radiation; Surface photosynthetically available radiation; Surface water temperature; Temperature Profiles; Underwater photosynthetically available radiation (1m); Conductivity normalised to 25 degrees C; pH; Dissolved oxygen (% saturation); Dissolved oxygen (mg per litre); Dissolved carbon dioxide; Chlorophyll a concentration (relative units); Phycocyanin concentration (relative units).
And UKLEON is just a small part of the UK Environmental Change Network, UKECN. Through this portal you can gain access to a wider range of data in a wider range of environments.
For example the figure below shows the earliest recorded spawning date for frogs over a period of 13 years to 2010. Who knew that data was available? Or maybe you are interested in butterfly counts? UK ECN has the data for you.
I am not an ecologist, and so I don’t understand the significance of many of these measured quantities.
But I love the fact that the data is available for anyone to look at and perhaps make their own discoveries.