Lake Express Ferry

Latitude:              43.0 (43°0’13″ N)
Longitude:          -87.88 (87°53’10″ W)


2330 S Lincoln Memorial Dr,

Milwaukee, WI 53207


The Lake Express high speed ferry operates seasonally (May-Oct) between Milwaukee WI and Muskegon MI, conducting two to three round trips daily. Due to the frequency of trips and the consistency of path, the Lake Express is a truly unique vessel of opportunity for Great Lakes research, providing an unprecedented picture of how physical, chemical and biological conditions on Lake Michigan change from hour to hour, day to day, and year to year.


The Lake Express monitoring system consists of an automated sensor that measures carbon dioxide both in the lake and in the air above the lake.  Carbon dioxide is a useful tracer of energy flow in lakes, and so these measurements enable the determination of the rate at which energy is added to the lake through phytoplankton photosynthesis, and whether some parts of the lake are more productive than others.  In addition to carbon dioxide measurements, the system measures air and water oxygen concentrations, water temperature, and chlorophyll fluorescence which serves as an index of phytoplankton abundance.  These measurements are being used to support the development of physical and biological models, which in turn are needed to guide nutrient and fishery management decisions for Lake Michigan. The system has also been used to monitor ozone concentrations over the lake, leading to improvements in the accuracy of air quality prediction models.  In addition to support from GLOS, this work is being conducted in collaboration with Wisconsin Sea Grant.