Phytoplankton, Climate Change, and a River Like Fine Wine: Michael Twiss Brings Aquatic Science to NPR

Research by Clarkson biology professor Michael Twiss to “Investigate the Paradox of Nitrogen Limitation in Nitrate-Rich Lake Ontario,” has deep implications for our understanding of the Great Lakes and their fate in the era of climate change.

With a grant from  New York Sea Grant Institute, Twiss and biology major Lindsay Avolio conducted two research cruises on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River last year, and presented their findings at the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Biology Professor Michael Twiss collects water offshore of Lake Ontario onboard the 180 foot-long research vessel R/V Lake Guardian of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Biology Professor Michael Twiss collects water offshore of Lake Ontario onboard the 180 foot-long research vessel R/V Lake Guardian of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Twiss’ work attracted the attention ofMichigan Public Radio, and reporter David Sommerstein accompanied him on a St. Lawrence River trip. From Sommerstein’s story for Michigan Radio’s Environment Report , broadcast nationally on NPR:

Phytoplankton – the algae that are food for plankton which in turn feed fish – are behaving strangely. They’re surrounded by a nutrient they need to grow. But for some reason, they’re not using it.

The puzzle has big implications for how scientists think about the Great Lakes’ future in a warming world.

It’s a crisp sunny morning on the St. Lawrence River. All of the Great Lakes’ water flows through here on its way to the ocean.

Michael Twiss is leaning over the edge of his research boat, his face just a couple inches from the water’s surface. He swishes the water like he’s sniffing fine wine.

Read more at Michigan Public Radio.