University of Vermont awarded $20M to study lake

Photo by Carolyn Bates.

Photo by Carolyn Bates.

(Adapted from an AP report)
A science program at the University of Vermont has been awarded a $20 million federal grant, the largest grant in the school's history, to help study the health of the Lake Champlain basin and look at the effects of climate change on it, officials announced recently.

The five-year National Science Foundation grant will be awarded to EPSCOR - UVM's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. The project will bring together other institutions of higher education - St. Michael's, Middlebury and Johnson State colleges - as well as state agencies, nonprofit groups and the private sector to study the lake. The project will also create 16 full-time jobs and a half dozen college scholarships, according to EPSCOR director Judith Van Houten.

Scientists will gather data on the chemical, physical, geological and biological processes in the lake, then analyze the data and turn it into models that can be used to test scenarios for policy makers, UVM officials said.

Social scientists will survey lake users and landowners to collect data on external factors affecting the lake and survey public officials to learn how decisions on the lake's health are made, UVM said.

The grant follows a $6.7 million federal grant that EPSCoR was awarded to help scientists better understand pollution in Lake Champlain.

"This project builds on existing data and aims to gather new information through scenario testing and sensors placed in the lake to help predict and better understand how the watersheds and the in-lake processes react to affect the health of the lake," Van Houten said.

"Teasing apart the multiple ways by which climate change may affect Lake Champlain is a daunting task," said LCC Staff Scientist Mike Winslow. "This funding for UVM will help all lake managers better predict those impacts."