Feature Stories

Nitrogen pollution.  The term is inextricably linked with growing corn: here in Minnesota, and all along the Mississippi river basin.  The consequences of nitrogen runoff are becoming more well-known—algal blooms and the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico are now part of the popular lexicon. In fact, USA Today, has run articles on both topics—the latest of which focuses on a scientific study describing how long term changes in agricultural practices will be necessary to bring the Dead Zone into compliance—and even then, it would take many years for all the excess nitrogen currently in the system to work its way out.

New WRC Associate Director Joel Larson is not missing his east coast office commute. As the acting Director for the Southeast Climate Hub and living just outside DC, Joel and his wife Amelia counted commuting time to daycare and the office as family time, as they were rarely home during waking hours.

“Without water, there is no life.” With those words, Al Levine welcomed the attendees of the Water Resources Assembly and Research Symposium. Levine, the University’s Vice-President for Research, shared that he realized that the visibility of the water research community was an issue when a University president asked him who was doing water research at the University. Organizers of the symposium hope that events like this will raise the water research community’s profile within the University through cooperation with its colleges and units.

Water use in the home landscape is a hot topic- even in Minnesota.  In the Twin Cities, on average three times more water is used during the summer than in the winter and much of this water is used outdoors.  As urbanization increases and we continue to experience more extreme heat and drought, greater pressure is placed on our water resources.  If you own an irrigation system or water your lawn with portable sprinklers, reduce your overall water use by implementing the following water-saving tips.

Students across the Twin Cities metropolitan area are getting the opportunity to ask and answer their own scientific questions thanks to the Integrated Science Education and Outreach (InSciEd Out) program. An evidence-based elementary and middle school program, InSciEd Out empowers young learners to investigate society’s most pressing health issues so they can ignite measurable and sustainable changes in the health and wellness of their families and communities. Through a partnership between the College of Biological Science and the Mayo Clinic, InSciEd Out now reaches over 3,000 students form 6 partner schools in the Twin Cities.

The University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center director Jeff Peterson is the lead investigator on a recently awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) grant which funds new research on providing sustainable food, energy and clean, plentiful water for the Earth’s burgeoning population.  NSF partnered with the National Institute for Food and Agriculture to award 46.6 million in grants to researchers committee to finding solutions to a potential sustainability crisis.

Lakes are changing and how we protect and manage them needs to change as well. Freshwater lakes are a tiny fraction (<0.5%) of the total water on earth, and host a web of complex ecosystems, and influence the lives of the many people around them.  Lakes are part of the still or standing water (lentic) of inland waters.  But, there is a full range of water motion (flow) within lakes that makes each lake a unique dynamic system and constantly changing.  Yet, lakes with similar shapes and forms (morphometry) of the same area (climate zones) tend to respond similarly to the changes inside them and within their watersheds.  

In the fall of 2016, Doug Malchow, since-retired Extension Educator in Water Resources, responded to inquiries from Dante Rand of the Cedar Lake Ambassadors of Rice County (CLARC) - a community of people interested in restoring, preserving, and protecting Cedar Lake in Rice County, Minnesota. CLARC is an action-oriented committee working in conjunction with the non-profit organizations of Cedar Lake Association and The Sportsman’s Club.

The 2017 Minnesota Water Resources Conference offered a variety of water topics to the record-breaking 787 attendees who gathered amid the fall color display along the Mississippi River. Tribal water management, discovering the source of harmful microorganisms in our recreational and drinking water and using media to bring problems and solutions to the public were just a handful of topics offered.

The area’s scenic attractions have typically been enhanced by its weather – breezy, sunny, and mild in summer and reliably snowy in winter.  But current models predict that global climate change patterns will result in local changes that could noticeably and adversely impact the visitor and resident North Shore experience. 

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