Minnegram Fall 2021

Director's Corner

A message from Water Resources Center Director Jeff Peterson

Features

2021 Minnesota Water Resources Conference highlights natural ag solutions and meaningful research collaborations with tribal nations

The 2021 Minnesota Water Resources conference was in Zoom format as it was in 2020, albeit with an added level of confidence in the platform after last year’s successful presentations and record attendance. WRC director Jeff Peterson welcomed the 943 participants to the conference and announced a request for nominations for the Deb Swackhamer Early Career Award to be given out for the first time at next year’s conference.

The Story of Nitrogen: a new podcast from the University of Minnesota Extension
by Greg Klinger

Nitrogen, a nutrient that’s essential for life, impacts us all but might not be something you think about unless it relates to your job. Farmers constantly think about how their nitrogen fertilizer decisions can impact their crop yields, an agricultural scientist might think about the importance of nitrogen to the global food supply, conservationists might think about the impact of nitrogen on the life that exists in forests or bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico.

The rise of Machine Learning in hydrology and other natural sciences
by Xiang Li, Ankush Khandelwal, Christopher Duffy, Vipin Kuma, John L. Nieber, and Michael Steinbach

In 2016 AlphaGo and its successor programs defeated human Go professionals using AI (artificial intelligence) (“AlphaGo,” n.d.). The tremendous growth in “AI,” “machine learning (ML),” and “big data” has thus declared a new era sometimes called the “fourth industrial revolution,” which has fundamentally changed the way we live and work. Customers are targeted with more effective business advertisements. Live captions on the media are more semantically accurate. Behind these scenes is the advent of machine learning.

Professor Len Ferrington remembered as a gentleman, and a scholar
by Lucinda Johnson,  Jim Perry and Bruce Vondracek 

Dr. Leonard C. Ferrington, Jr. passed away unexpectedly on September 11, 2021. Len was an engaging personality and well-known prolific researcher. Len’s open and engaging personality always made research with colleagues enjoyable and scientifically productive. He worked in or collaborated with colleagues from 52 countries.

Can we turn our cities’ green lakes blue?
by Lawrence A. Baker, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, Kate Carlson, U-Spatial, University of Minnesota

The problem is that many of our urban lakes are green (eutrophic), not blue. The “green” is caused by an overabundance of algae, which results in reduced water clarity, an increase in undesirable blue-green algae, and depleted oxygen (needed by fish) in the bottom waters. These characteristics degrade the value of lakes for recreation at a time when you most want to be near a lake, or better yet, in one! As a rough guide, the MPCA’s legal criterion for considering a lake in the Metro Region to be legally “nutrient impaired” is about 1.4 m (4 ½ feet), which means you can’t see your toes.

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