Temperature Profiling

Lakes undergo stratification due to differences in density which are often driven by temperature. Water temperature influences a variety of other parameters making it a subtle, but crucial, component of monitoring systems. Keeping a close eye on temperature changes with long and short-term monitoring allows lake managers to keep abreast of potential developments in a lake system.

A typical temperature profiling system includes a solar-charged battery built into a buoy platform, a thermistor string with nodes at user defined depths, a data logger to record temperature readings and a telemetry package — allowing for real-time monitoring from a remote location with a computer or mobile device.

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Case Studies

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Managing Plant Discharge Temperatures

The Southern Illinois Power Cooperative operates a power plant near Lake of Egypt around the clock to produce energy for its customers. All the activity can stress the plant’s infrastructure, so key to continuing its operations is minimizing that stress as much as possible. One of the main issues that plant managers encounter in overseeing operations is keeping equipment from overheating. They routinely pump in water from the lake to cool generators and ensure reliable power generation in the long term. Through being used as a cooling agent, the water is heated up considerably, and then must be condensed and cooled before it can be discharged back into the reservoir.

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Washington Reservoir Temperature Changes

There are many major rivers flowing through the Pacific Northwest. Like others around the country, they are outfitted with various dams and reservoirs that are used to control their movements, provide energy and maintain drinking water supplies for those living around them. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) plays a big hand in managing and maintaining the structures that corral these rivers. Of significance for engineers with the USACE’s Walla Walla District are the Columbia, Snake and North Fork Clearwater Rivers.

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Lake Temperature Profile

The Carleton College Department of Geology is enhancing classroom learning and student/faculty research with real-time water quality data. A National Science Foundation Grant funded the purchase and deployment of a water quality buoy on Upper Lyman Lake. The new buoy logs temperature data at four depths every 15 minutes. Once per hour, the data is transmitted by radio telemetry to the college’s geology lab. Temperature profile data is posted to a website for student and professor access.

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