Manitoba Great Lakes Project


For Manitoba, an abundance of clean, reliable freshwater is the centerpiece to the province’s economic and social infrastructure. From clean drinking water and agricultural irrigation to hydroelectric power and recreational activities, the very identity of Manitoba is built upon its fresh water supply.

With a combined area of 34,508 km2, Lakes Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Winnipegosis make up nearly 5.5% of the total land area of the province and act as major waterways in the Hudson Bay watershed, one of the largest watersheds in North America, draining water from as far west as the Rockies and as far east as Quebec into Hudson Bay.

Project Description

Principal Investigators: David Barber and Tim Papakyriakou
Project Lead: Greg McCullough

Project Coordinator: Claire Herbert

U of M 2019 Participants: Claire Herbert, Mike Stainton, Hedy Kling, Dave Capelle, Rodney N-Chris, Victory Iyakoregha, Shae Laurencelle, Casey Clair, Rachel Mandryk, Yekaterina Yezhova

With three moorings collecting in situ data (chlorophyll A, phycocyanin, turbidity, temperature, and pressure) in combination with regularly scheduled water sampling, CEOS and the University of Manitoba are able to:

  • Take a leadership role in monitoring the health of Manitoba’s freshwater through nutrient and contaminant testing.
  • Evaluate the anthropogenic impact on Manitoba’s freshwater ecosystem.
  • Develop an understanding of how nutrients and contaminants move throughout the freshwater ecosystem.

This information can be used by government, industry and other stakeholders to improve the health of Manitoba’s freshwater, ensuring the stability of the clean water Manitoba’s Great Lakes provide, and the economic and social infrastructure that has been built upon it.

2019: All three moorings deployed. First-year masters student Katelyn Rodgers collecting nutrients and measuring flow from 3 different stream types to better understand nutrient runoff from the Lake Winnipeg watershed area that runs into Lakes Winnipegosis, Waterhen and Manitoba (project described in detail below). Greenhouse gas collection from the MV Namao continued (see recent blogs in the news section or on the front page of our website).

2018: All three moorings deployed. This year will be a minimal sampling year. We have also expanded the project to include Lake Winnipeg sampling. Research conducted on Lake Winnipeg is organized using the MV Namao, managed by the Lake Winnipeg Research Organization (LWRC). Full details of the surveys conducted by the LWRC can be found on their website. A summary for this year is below:

Survey 1
On June 4th, the Namao entered dry dock at Hnausa. Therefore the first part of the survey was conducted using the Fylgja and the "workboat".
Part A: Sampling started on Monday, June 11, which was a weather day. Sampling was cut short Tuesday, June 12 due to strong winds. Sampling did not occur over the June 16-18th weekend. It restarted Monday, June 18 and finished Thursday, June 21.

A pCO2 box (which measures carbon dioxide and oxygen) has water continuously flowing through it while the ship is moving. It is attached to an Algal Online Analyzer (AOA) instrument which counts the major algal classes. At certain stages, whole surface water samples are also taken and will be sent to the Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg for Suspended Carbon and Nitrogen, dissolved organic carbon, pH, alkalkinity and conductivity. In-line water samples taken from the pCO2 box will be taken and analyzed at CEOS for dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), Total alkalinity (TA), 13C-Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (13C-DIC) and methane (CH4).

Pco2 and AOAsetup on the Fylgja

pCo2 and AOAsetup on the Fylgja

2017: Two moorings deployed - Lakes Manitoba and Waterhen. We had equipment trouble so were not able to deploy the third buoy. Continued water quality sampling and thesis data collection. ASD spectrometer used to collect calibration data for remote sensing.

2016: Three moorings deployed - Lakes Manitoba, Winnipegosis and Waterhen. Graduate project by Claire Herbert with supervisor Dr. David Barber started. Community based monitoring initiative in conjunction with the Lake Winnipeg Foundation.

2014: Moorings planned for Lakes Manitoba, Winnipegosis, and Waterhen, as well as the start of new research on Lake Winnipeg.

2013: Moorings and research focused on Lakes Manitoba and Waterhen.

2012: Moorings and research focused on Lakes Manitoba and Winnipegosis.

Masters Thesis Work

Below is a summary of the masters work by Claire Herbert, under the supervision of Dr. David Barber.

Millions of dollars are spent each year in Canada on protecting waterways from urban and agricultural pollutants, excess nutrient input and keeping fisheries healthy. However, increasingly limited funding for research and monitoring has resulted in federal and provincial agencies with budgets that preclude extensive temporal and spatial sampling of many of these water bodies, resulting in poorly understood water quality in the majority of Manitoba lakes.  Since the 1970’s, there have been only 2 studies on the 16th largest freshwater lake in the world (Lake Manitoba) which included broad spatial and temporal water quality sampling surveys (Page 2011).

I propose to use remote sensing and in situ methods to characterize the algal communities in Lakes Manitoba, Winnipegosis, and Waterhen to: i) determine how temporal and spatial variation in lake light and nutrient conditions have affected algal community response over the past decade and ii) to examine inter-lake differences in algal dynamics. My study will make use of in situ observations that are currently acquired through an ongoing CEOS program known as the Manitoba Great Lakes project.

Remotely sensed optical imagery is a cost effective way to monitor water quality on a broad scale.  The waters of the Manitoba Great Lakes are considered Case II waters, meaning the optical properties measured by satellites are influenced not only by phytoplankton (chlorophyll-a) but also by suspended sediments and organic matter.  This makes them much more complicated to analyze than many of the world’s oceans (Case I waters) where most successful algorithms for measuring chlorophyll-a by satellite have been developed. Approaches using various algorithms to retrieve these parameters from remote sensing data have usually been developed for individual lakes.  On Lake Winnipeg, McCullough (2007) and Kling (2011) demonstrated that surface algal biomass from derived chlorophyll concentration and total suspended solids (TSS) could be accurately calculated using an algorithm developed for the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) (McCullough 2001) and modified for use with MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) and Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrumentation.

I will use both remote sensing using historical and in situ methods to conduct this research.

Poster Presentation at GLEON 20, December 2018, Rottnest Island, Australia

Project Images