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Dr. Paul McKinney
PhD in Geology, 2015, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Nearshore areas of large lakes provide a wide range of benefits to society and serve as critical habitat for a variety of species. Exchange processes that promote mixing between nearshore and offshore areas control water quality parameters including concentrations of nutrient and suspended sediment that are vital for ecosystem functioning. The objective of my research is to improve our understanding of these processes in Lake Superior and how they affect the lake’s ecosystem.
In my graduate work I addressed these questions through analysis of satellite remote sensing images of the lake’s nearshore areas as well as numerical modeling of its thermal cycle and circulation. I use those results to inform my work at the LLO, which is focused on making direct observations of conditions in the lake using Slocum Gliders. The gliders are autonomous underwater vehicles that record temperature and other water quality parameters throughout the water column along their trajectory. They provide a unique and rich data set that promises to improve our understanding of how materials are transported between the nearshore and offshore areas of the lake.