CCR Banner CCR Home

Oceanography and Limnology

In CCR, we investigate the physics and biogeochemistry of the oceans and Great Lakes with data and models. Interactions between the oceans and atmosphere that generate and respond to multi-annual climate variability are a particular focus. Study of the Great Lakes focuses on carbon cycling, circulation, lake level variability and lake-effect snowfall.

Principal Investigators

Ankur Desai, Zhengyu Liu, Galen McKinley, Michael Notaro, Patricia Sanford, Steve Vavrus

Ongoing Projects


Project: Observing lake-atmosphere exchanges of greenhouse gases and energy
PI: Ankur Desai
We have instrumented Lake Mendota with eddy covariance and other subsurface instrumentation for continuous measurement of lake-atmosphere exchange of CO2, heat, and momentum. These observations are being used to understand how changing ice cover and lake nutrient dynamics are influencing lake carbon cycling in nutrient rich lakes.


Project: How will the Great Lakes water levels respond to climate change?
PI: Michael Notaro
Under a contract from NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, we will investigating past and future changes in Great Lakes’ water levels in response to climate change using a regional climate model (RegCM4) and groundwater model.


Project: Induction of carbon and nutrients in the North Atlantic
PI: Galen McKinley
With numerical models and data, the impacts of varying gyre-scale physical forcing (wind stress, heat flux) on gyre structure, and in turn, on subtropical to subpolar nutrient and carbon supply are being assessed.


Project: Carbon acidification of Lakes Superior and Michigan
PI: Galen McKinley
Due to anthropogenic CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, "ocean acidification" will reduce the surface ocean pH by 0.3 units by 2100, and the same rate of decrease should occur in the Great Lakes. In addition to the basic chemistry, biological impacts are being assessed with expert elicitation.


Project: Circulation and biogeochemistry of Lakes Superior and Michigan
PI: Galen McKinley
Using numerical models, the general circulation and biogeochemistry at the lake-wide scale are being studied; the importance of spatio-temporal variability to biogeochemical patterns, and impacts from climate change, invasive sea lampreys, and nutrient loadings are being addressed.


Project: Modeling ice cover on Wisconsin’s lakes
PI: Steve Vavrus
In this pilot project, we are testing the ability of a simple statistical model to simulate the observed behavior of ice cover on Lake Mendota and how future climate change will affect the timing and thickness of the ice.