Dr. John Halfman is Professor of Geolimnology and Hydrogeochemistry, and Finger Lakes Institute Endowed Chair in Environmental Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
What is your role in the Finger Lakes Hg Project?
My role in the Finger Lakes Hg Project is twofold and relatively simple compared to the other scientists on this project: (1) I provide my extensive field experience so that the project collects good open lake field samples; and, (2) I provide some background on the limnology of the various Finger Lakes. Specifically, I provide data on the change in trophic status between these lakes, and potential changes from year to year within each lake.
How does this project fit into your current research program?
This project dovetails nicely into my ongoing monitoring of the limnology and hydrogeochemistry of the eight easternmost Finger Lakes. The diversity in the trophic states between these Finger Lakes provides an ideal natural laboratory to investigate the impact of the ecological and limnological differences in aquatic processes. Collection of the open lake Hg samples and my limnological and hydrogeochemical samples are performed at the same time from the same vessel, so the Hg and limnological/hydrogeochemical data can be compared and contrasted in a meaningful manner.
What has most interested or surprised you so far?
Nothing has surprised me about this effort, so far. The limnological/hydrogeochemical data are similar to previous years. All the lakes revealed some signs of the nutrient & sediment loading associated with the heavier than normal early spring rains last year (2015), but the change was not excessive compared to previous years. Thus, the field data should be representative of the ongoing limnological processes and aquatic ecology in each lake. More importantly, it is a pleasure to work with a bunch of scientists that have worked very hard and extremely well together. I look forward to some exciting results.