Limnology in the Lab: Rolling Carbon Burritos

Limnologists aren’t always out in boats on calm, sunny days. (But sometimes we are!) While fieldwork is an essential part of collecting data, it’s often not the only step needed to turn that information into something we can use to start answering research questions.
Luke Loken is a Center for Limnology grad student in Emily Stanley’s lab. Lately, he’s been nowhere near his research site. Sometimes, doing science means getting out your tweezers and rolling up hundreds of tiny foil burritos. The slideshow below explains.

(click on white triangle/arrow to advance slides)

The Saint Louis River Estuary is created where the Saint Louis River meets Lake Superior as it flows between the cities of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. Luke is looking at the seasonal changes of where the estuary gets its water. Spring rains send water full of sediments and whatever else is upstream into the estuary. By late summer, river levels are down and Lake Superior is supplying much of the ecosystem’s H2O.
Freshwater estuaries are rare and this one’s not in the greatest of health. By understanding these parameters better, Luke hopes to be able to more accurately model the dynamics of the estuary and help resource managers better understand the ecosystem they’re working to preserve.
Luke Loken (left) and Ryan Hassemer collect water samples from the St. Louis River estuary. Photo: L. Loken
Luke Loken (left) and Ryan Hassemer in a happier time – field season, where they’re collecting water samples from the St. Louis River estuary. Photo: L. Loken