The Knowledge to Act


Three Ways Our Summer Research Season Will Look Different This Year

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You don’t need us to tell you that the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed everyone’s lives and plans for the future; the 2020 summer research season at IISD Experimental Lakes Area is no exception.

While our plans for the summer season are continually evolving as the situation changes, our priority remains steadfast: to safeguard the health of our dedicated team of employees, research partners, and, of course, local communities.

That means that, initially, we will need to pare down our research season, while making sure essential monitoring and research takes place.

  1. We will work hard to ensure our 52-year unbroken dataset on everything from the temperature and ice depth to the chemistry and fish populations of our lakes remains unbroken. A very small group of our researchers, under very carefully controlled circumstances, will head out to the site for short trips to make sure those lakes and streams are monitored and to keep our core research and analysis going.

  2. We won’t be starting any new whole-lake research this year. Experiments we had planned to discover what microplastics do to fresh water and how anti-depressants that get flushed down the toilet affect lake ecosystems will just have to wait. But don’t worry, that new research will get started. Those threats to fresh water are great, but, for now, the threat that COVID-19 poses to the health of the IISD-ELA community is greater.

  3. Back at home? We are all working hard, practising physical distancing, taking lots of meetings online with our new IISD-ELA virtual backgrounds, and dreaming of returning to the lakes. In fact, we are so excited to get back that we pulled together our favourite tunes in a playlist so that everyone can dive into the sights, the smells, the vistas, and, of course, the sounds of the world’s freshwater laboratory, even when we are not there.

Most of our staff are now working from home, physical distancing and dreaming of the lakes.

Needless to say, the COVID-19 situation is ever-evolving, and this season may see us back at the lakes in the late summer or fall. This is just the plan for now; when it changes, we will let you know.

For all your tips on keeping our fresh water clean during this pandemic and the latest from the world’s freshwater laboratory, stay tuned to our website, our Facebook page, our Twitter account and our Instagram feed.

Stay healthy and stay connected.

The IISD Experimental Lakes Area team

About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank that delivers the knowledge to act. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability. Our big-picture view allows us to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges facing our planet today – ecological destruction, social exclusion, unfair laws and economic and social rules, a changing climate. With offices in Winnipeg, Geneva, Ottawa and Toronto, our work impacts lives in nearly 100 countries.

For more information, please contact: or +1 (613) 238 2296 ext. 114