In 2023, for the seventh time the Foundation for Support of Applied Environmental Research and Development “Lake Baikal” will provide financial support to the Russian science record-holder project, the “Point № 1” long-term environmental monitoring program of Lake Baikal.
The “Point № 1” project is an example of a unique scientific program on a global scale. Since 1945, a team of scientists from the Irkutsk State University Research Institute of Biology weekly and continuously selects samples from Lake Baikal at the “pelagic fixed station № 1” (“Point № 1”), located in Southern Baikal, over against the village of Bolshye Koty (distance 2.7 km from the shore, above a depth of 800 m), then identifies hundreds of species zoo- and phytoplankton under the microscope and forms a valuable database of indicators of the lake’s ecosystem state.
Maxim Timofeev, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Director of the ISU Research Institute of Biology:
Over the seven decades of the program, several generations of scientists exploring Baikal have changed, but the applied approaches and methods of analyzing the collected material have not. This approach gives unlimited possibilities for comparing the data obtained over the entire observation period. To this moment, over 5 million records have been accumulated describing the pelagic zone of the lake (water column, plankton habitat). “Point № 1” was included in the Russian Book of Records as the longest project of regular environmental monitoring in the history of science.
“Point № 1” became the first grant project of the Foundation “Lake Baikal”. In 2016, the monitoring program was on the verge of closure after more than 70 years of continuous implementation due to unstable budget financing. The expert community risked losing the project, which provides continuous valuable data on the state of the pelagic zone of the world's largest freshwater storage. Given the indisputable importance of monitoring, the Foundation decided to support scientists and provide the necessary funding for the work of the team of the program.
Since last year, an automatic zooplankton recognition system using a neural network algorithm has been developed using the funds of the Lake Baikal Foundation and the support of Yandex.Cloud. The system itself was launched in test mode last year.
This year, the Foundation “Lake Baikal” has already transferred 1.6 million rubles for the implementation of the project. These funds make it possible to ensure the stable work of the team and attract young specialists to it, as well as to continue improving the work and retraining of the monitoring neural network.
The head of the grant project this year will be a young scientist, Candidate of Biological Sciences Olga Rusanovskaya.