News Archive

posted 12/13/02

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Works with New York State to Establish a Real-Time Monitoring System for the Hudson River

This November, Governor Pataki announced plans to establish a real-time observation and monitoring system for the Hudson River, which will help to protect this historic waterway. The nearly $1 million monitoring project, Hudson Riverscope, is the first incubator research project of the Rivers and Estuaries Center on the Hudson.

"As we move forward with the creation of the Rivers and Estuaries Center, the new monitoring system will enhance educational and scientific studies and our understanding of the river," the Governor said. "This is just the beginning of our effort to develop a premier research center that will assist us in protecting and restoring this environmental treasure."

The development of a continuous, real-time observation and monitoring system for the Hudson River and its estuaries is a joint project of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The system, the Hudson Riverscope, will include monitoring sites on the Hudson River in Waterford, Saratoga County, and Piermont Pier, Rockland County, that will provide data on the flow of materials in the river, the spread of zebra mussel larvae, and tracking of suspended contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). This data will be used to help analyze and even predict the spread and impact of contaminants and will provide a better understanding of river behavior.

Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University said, "This is an exciting first step toward understanding the dynamics of the Hudson River. From the watershed, which supplies our drinking water, to the deep waters of its busy harbor, the Hudson River is an integral part of our lives. Columbia is delighted to be part of the Governor's effort to sustain and intelligently manage the River's future.

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said, "Rensselaer will be an active partner in this pilot research project of the Rivers and Estuaries Center. There is no question that the development of new science and technology for monitoring the Hudson River will serve as a national model, and ensure the health of the River for years to come."

The monitoring system will provide information to assist in policymaking decisions and serve as a basis for additional investigations, as well as offering the general public the opportunity to review timely information about the river.

Funding for the system includes a $500,000 in federal monies secured by Congressman James T. Walsh for the Rivers and Estuaries Center, $230,000 in-kind resources from Pace University, Lamont- Doherty and RPI, $100,000 from the State, and $200,000 from research institutions.

In January 2000, Governor Pataki announced plans to create a world-class research institute for the study of the Hudson River and its estuaries. A strategic plan was developed by an Advisory Group comprised of representatives for government agencies, environmental groups, and academic institutions, along with a private consultant, Gensler Architecture, Design and Planning, New York City. One of the recommendations in the plan was real-time monitoring of the river.

More than 20 communities have expressed interest in housing the Rivers and Estuaries Center on the Hudson. Twelve sites, including the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, are undergoing further review to determine their site suitability. A final site will be chosen in 2003.

The Earth Institute at Columbia University is among the world’s leading academic centers for the integrated study of Earth, its environment, and society. The Earth Institute builds upon excellence in the core disciplines—earth sciences, biological sciences, engineering sciences, social sciences and health sciences—and stresses cross-disciplinary approaches to complex problems. Through its research, training and global partnerships, it mobilizes science and technology to advance sustainable development, while placing special emphasis on the needs of the world’s poor.