Lakes of Ontario, Canada: From Spring to Winter

Latest update September 10, 2019 Started on October 23, 2018

Canada enjoys one of the largest concentrations of fresh water in the world. In Ontario alone there are almost a quarter million lakes. Water conditions change seasonally – but how exactly does it change between open water and ice cover?

October 23, 2018
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In The Field

7 April 2019;

Last Sunday, the 2nd ROV operation was made over the lake just before ice disappeared completely. There still thinner ice left in most of the lake. It was interesting to observe the process of lake ice breakup with warmer surface temperature, and strong constant winds in certain direction. We took a couple of videos under the lake - found out two different fishes.

Battery time of the ROV was approximately 2.5 hours on mid/high-speed with HD recordings. Turing left and right looked pretty smooth, but it was hard to control out of sights, around 20m, far away from a dock. I feel more practicing through screens on the remote-controller. Still need to figure out what temperature displays on the screen, either internal or water temperature?

For more details about lake ice thermodynamics,

4 April 2019

Finally, my Trident ROV has arrived this week, and I quickly went to make a couple of test operations under the frozen lake this afternoon - tiling up/down, moving forward/backward, faster/slower, and turning right/left under freshwater!

I really appreciate for OPENROV, and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC providing an excellent opportunity to keep my expedition as a citizen scientist!

This weekend, we will visit in Sunfish Lake with my colleagues from University of Waterloo TTSW (

Keep you posted...


27 February 2019

Lake Simcoe is located in southern Ontario, Canada, surrounded by Barrie, Orillia, and the northern part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). It is the tenth largest lake in the province of Ontario, after Lake Nipigon, Lac Seul, and Lake Nipissing. Also, it is a large freshwater body with complete-freeze-over during winter seasons.

This lake has a surface area with 722 square kilometres (279 sq mi) in total, 30 kilometres (19 mi) long, and 25 kilometres (16 mi) wide. It is a maximum depth of 41 metre (135 ft), and average depth of 15 metre (49 ft) with 219m above mean sea level at 22 m, water depth - a yearly average surface temperature of plus 2.5 degrees Celsius.

A number of creeks and rivers flow into the lake draining 2,581 square kilometres (997 sq mi) of land - Black River in York region, Beaver River in Durham Region, Holland River, and Talbot River in Simcoe County. The lake is located on Paleozoic limestone of the Ordovician period. The Holland Marsh, the deep organic sediments, is in its shallow southern arm.


10 February 2019

Charleston Lake is located in South Eastern Ontario, and east of Kingston. The lake is carved out of the Frontenac Axis, a relatively narrow extension of the Canadian Shield bedrock. The lake is the principal watershed for the Gananoque River, and Charleston Lake Provincial Park is located on the shores of the lake. This provincial park has 235 campsites and 10 backcountry sites, plus four yurts and a cabin.

Charleston Lake has over 160 kilometres of shoreline and over 100 islands with over many summer and permanent cottage residents. The water surface is 26.2 km2, and the maximum depth is 91.1 m. For five years culminating in 2005, Charleston Lake was the site for re-introduction of the peregrine falcon.

Photo credit: Ontario Park



3 February 2019,

Canadian cottage owners are looking forward to seeing cottage season opens. Same as A&D, as well as their soulmate, Banjo who live in Kitchener Ontario. They already started to 100-day countdown from early December 2018 until cottage open season. It’s because their shelter in Conestogo Lake is so beautiful from Spring, Summer, and Fall. Do you imagine how much beautiful night sky is? My answer is Wow!

Conestogo Lake is located in northwest of Elmira, Ontario, on the Conestogo River, a main tributary of the Grand River. It is a reservoir with a flood control dam and low flow augmentations which having on a y-shaped reservoir that stretches five or six kilometres up each arm, surrounding forests and farms. The inundation has a drainage area of 563 km2. The maximum depth and volume are 19 m and 59,457,000 m3, respectively. Conestogo reservoir, which is known to thermally stratify and is bottom-draw, remained at its higher buffer volume or slightly above between June and October (De Baets, 2016).

Photo credits: A&D


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A first winter surveying

On 10 December 2018, we visited again in Sunfish Lake for collecting in-situ measurements and drone surveying. We decided to wait for at least 10 cm thick to walk on the surface of frozen lake. However, this may not happen next a couple of weeks because it had been pretty mild conditions during Christmas break in Ontario, Canada.

It was the first UAV operations during December since 2017.....

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In The Field

Previous fieldworks - Part4

With research group from UW/GWF-TTSW and Environment Canada, we went to Kingsville/Leamington, Ontario for investigating algae bloom at the end of September - Successful collecting data from not only Limos but also UAV/hyperspectral sensors over the waterbody.

Previous fieldworks - Part3

We had a chance to survey Bay of Quinte in the end of August 2018 working with Environment Canada. The main purpose of this trip was to investigate water stress - water quantity and quality over Lake Ontario.

Previous fieldworks - Part2

We have been exploring a conestogo Lake since last summer 2017. It was because that toxic algae bloom occurred in this waterbody past a couple of years during summer. Wilfred Laurier University research team has been collected water sampling on a regular basis - comments from UW/TTSW. However, it is still unknown the main reason of blooming events.

Unlike Sunfish Lake, this reservoir is owned by Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA). Recently, we got a permission to access during off-season until April 2019.

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Previous fieldworks - Part1

Since Summer 2017, we had tested different optical sensors onboard UAV system launched from Schneider Hill where is located in the southern part of Sunfish Lake.

Operational Manager/PhD candidate Mari Foroutan and TTSW Project Manager Marie Hoekstra in University of Waterloo have been collecting temperature data via in-situ instruments and UAV system over Sunfish lake.

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Expedition Background

Currently, my colleagues have been conducting water stress research over Sunfish Lake . The main reason of this body is ease accessibility close to University of Waterloo.

Sunfish Lake is placed in Wilmot, Ontario with 22m depth at maximum covering with 500m by 300m. Initially we wanted to explore from lakeshore to center. The lake bottom was too deep to see its conditions. Cottage association said it’s muddly and still the lake condition is unknown.

During summer, the lake became greenish colour and might be by algae Blooms, nutrient variability, or from nearby watersheds connecting Lake Ontario via Grand River System - still we are exploring the main reason of changing surface conditions during Spring and Summer.

What happening on lake bottom from Summer to winter? Project Manager Marie Hoekstra, PhD Candidate Mari Foroutan, and Dr. Claude Duguay in University of Waterloo Global Water Future/Transformative sensor Technologies Smart Watersheds (UW/TTSW, - advised me a ROV application can be helpful to explore the source of groundwater inflow on lake bottom. In particular, during ice season, the existence of lake ice made difficult to exchange between atmosphere circulation and internal structure of lake. Thus, a ROV technology contributes to record an interface between lake ice and underlying freshwater during ice seasons. It is because the bottom of lakes during winter can be different in open water seasons.

Surveying lake bottom keeps journeys to other waterbody in Ontario such as Lake Simcoe, Prospect Lake, and/or Lake Nippising. Hopefully it lasts to explore a lake near Hudson Bay and Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Up Next: Previous fieldwork activities between 2017 and 2018.


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