Winter 2017 Community News

Former WRC director Pat Brezonik, Jaques Finlay (WRS faculty, EEB) and 1996 Water Resources Science Program graduate Leif Olmanson, collaborated on a study using remote sensing of colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) in water bodies across the upper Midwest. Minnesota, “the land of 10,000 lakes,” might as well be called the “land of 10,000 shades of lakes.” Many of them owe their color to CDOM: colored dissolved organic matter.
When organic matter—leaves, roots, or bark—disintegrates in water, it changes the color of a river or lake, much like a adding a teabag to hot water. That’s because these organic materials contain tannins and lignins, colorful chemicals present in plants.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota mapped lake CDOM levels using Landsat 8 imagery and found that levels varied widely across the state, like so many varieties of tea. The question at the heart of their research: “Why does CDOM vary so much?” asked Patrick Brezonik, a professor emeritus at the university who studies CDOM.

WRC Extension water team member Eleanor Burkett’s AIS surveillance program was featured in the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC): As the threat of AIS continues to grow across Minnesota, there is a need for an organized statewide surveillance program that targets high-risk areas with trained observers. In partnership with University of Minnesota Extension, the AIS Detectors program will train citizen scientists and professionals to make credible AIS reports in coordination with the Minnesota DNR, allowing agency AIS staff to more efficiently focus on verifying new infestations.

Workshops on the water
The U of M Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) seeks community and University representatives to serve on its five regional boards. Tenure-track faculty are especially encouraged to apply. RSDP boards review and approve community projects seeking University connections, and provide valuable opportunities for faculty to connect with local innovation and sustainable development issues. Recent board members include  David Mulla, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate and Kent Olson, Applied Economics. Issues related to water resources are an important part of the work of the Partnerships, for example a recent project focused on protecting a cold-water refuge lake in Central Minnesota. Please consider joining one of our regional boards to support community-University partnerships in addressing the critical needs of communities in our state. Learn more in the board application found on the bottom of the RSDP home page.