Scientists from US & China to study water/wetlands issues

In the best of worlds scientists throughout our globe work together to share research and solve common problems. That is just what is taking place between Central Michigan’s Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR) and the Jiangxi Normal University in the People’s Republic of China.

Dr. Donald Uzarski, Director of CMU’s Biological Station on Beaver Island and also the Director of the IGLR, explained that China was facing challenges with their largest lake, Lake Poyang.

Visiting China's Lake Poyang.

Visiting China’s Lake Poyang.

Lake Poyang, Uzarski says, is “essentially drying up.”  What used to be 3500 km2 is now only about 200 km2. The Chinese also must deal with a large dam, the monsoon season which brings torrential rains, and water levels that fluctuate 30 to 45 feet in short amount of time. They now have a huge wetlands area and also are challenged by pollution and invasive species.

Dr. Ian Davison, Dean of CMU’s College of Science and Technology, began the formation of a collaborative effort between the scientists and spent time in China last December to start the process. This March a contingency of CMU’s Institute for Great Lakes researchers headed back to China to formalize the creation of the JX (Normal University) – CMU Sino – U.S. Joint Center for Lake, Watershed and Wetlands Studies.

Some of the problems faces by the Chinese and Lake Poyang are quite startling. Dr. Uzarski related an incident when they visited the lake to demonstrate to the Chinese their way of taking water samples. They were told not to even touch the water; skin must never be exposed. “They have a parasite, similar to the one that causes swimmer’s itch,” said Uzarski, “except their parasite is deadly…it gives you a different perspective on some of the problems we face.”

This summer one Chinese faculty member and two graduate students will be spending an extended time on Beaver Island learning the protocols and procedures used at the Institute for Great Lakes Research. They, along with students and researchers at the Institute for Great Lakes Research will all be using one brand new tool in their studies this summer – the new research vessel R/V Chippewa.

For the complete article about this joint scientific venture see the June issue of NorthernIslander.