boat draws near to buoyUniversity of Windsor-RAEON graduate students and technicians approach a real-time water chemistry buoy in Lake Erie for cleaning and service aboard the RV Haffner in July 2022.

University of Windsor joining largest freshwater observational research network in Canada

More than $1.77 million in funding will be coming to the University of Windsor to support its leadership of the Real-Time Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network (RAEON), a Canada Foundation for Innovation-funded network focused on the Great Lakes.

The funding is part of CFI’s Major Science Initiatives award of $15.25 million to a collaborative freshwater observational research network known as the Global Water Futures Observatories (GWFO). Under the lead of the University of Saskatchewan, GWFO brings together nine Canadian universities to create the largest freshwater observational research network in the country, and one of the largest globally.

“We came to RAEON to be part of this proposal because of its leadership in Great Lakes research,” said John Pomeroy, distinguished professor at the University of Saskatchewan and director of Global Water Futures Observatories.

“RAEON is well positioned to provide critical infrastructure and expertise to ensure water security by measuring the aquatic health of our lakes for all Canadians.”

Since receiving its original funding in 2018, RAEON, under the direction of lead investigator Aaron Fisk, professor in the School of the Environment and Canada Research Chair in Changing Great Lakes Ecosystems, has been providing researchers with access to novel in-place instruments that provide real-time and continuous data from aquatic ecosystems and state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, data management, and technical expertise. The CFI-MSI grant will support RAEON in continuing this work through 2029 through deployment of its systems in the Great Lakes and across Canada.

At the University of Windsor, RAEON has provided instrumentation to support research projects, allowing faculty to leverage real funding. Last year, for example, UWindsor researchers and their partners secured more than $1 million via the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Alliance grant, along with industry partner funds, to deploy real-time continuous monitoring instruments from RAEON into Lake Erie to better understand and predict development of harmful algal blooms and to protect and secure drinking water in southern Ontario.

RAEON is also part of a Guelph-led CFI proposal, Freshwater Ecosystem Adaptive Management Network, developed using the RAEON model. If approved in June 2023, the new network would receive $17.6 million, of which almost $2 million would go to RAEON.

“Despite the plentiful water that Canada enjoys, our rapidly changing environment and expanding needs for freshwater mean that we need to collect data that is temporally and spatially comprehensive,” said Dr. Fisk. “This work can only be accomplished with state-of-the-art instrumentation and collaborative research networks that share expertise, data, and information.”

Academic Area: