Thursday, January 29, 2009

Web resource: Wisconsin's Freshwater Estuary Initiative

Freshwater estuaries occur where rivers and Great Lakes water mix in shallow wetlands located near the mouth of a river. These water resources are important components of surrounding communities. They support abundant fish and wildlife, offer recreational opportunities, contribute to water quality, and provide economic benefits.

Wisconsin’s Freshwater Estuary Initiative is an effort to increase awareness and promote stewardship of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes freshwater estuaries. The initiative involves the University of Wisconsin-Extension, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and a diverse network of partners. Several exciting projects are included in this collaborative effort. Examples include the establishment of a National Estuarine Research Reserve on Lake Superior, an assessment Wisconsin’s Great Lakes freshwater estuary needs, and conservation of Green Bay’s coastal wetlands.

To learn more about estuaries and this valuable initiative, go to their Web site.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Book Review: Placing History: How maps, spatial data, and GIS are changing historical scholarship

Placing History: How maps, spatial data, and GIS are changing historical scholarship
Edited by Anne Kelly Knowles
Digital supplement edited by Amy Hillier

The editor of Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (2002) now introduces Placing History: How maps, spatial data, and GIS are changing historical data. These two books have more than an editor in common. Knowles states in the introduction that both books "aim to inspire professors, students and professionals in history-related fields to think geographically about the past and to imagine how geographic information systems (GIS) might help them pursue interesting questions." Knowles takes it one step further in the first chapter of Placing History, arguing GIS is "changing the practice of history."

Placing History is full of interesting ways GIS is changing history and inspiring historians. Authors of each chapter describe examples of GIS incorporated into a piece of history as well as how to teach it. Examples include Peter K. Bol's "Creating a GIS for the History of China," Geoff Cunfer's "Scaling the Dust Bowl," and Brian Donahue’s “Mapping Husbandry in Concord: GIS as a Tool for Environmental History.” The conclusion is "an agenda for historical GIS" by editor Knowles, Amy Hillier, Roberta Balstad.

The cd included with the book contains presentations by Knowles, Cunfer, Hillier and Bol on the topics of their chapters, animations by Cunfer, GIS projects and map layers by Cunfer, Hillier, and Bol.

If you are a UW-Madison student, faculty, or staff, please request this book from MadCat. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please request it through Wisconsin's Water Library Web site book request.

Winnebago sturgeon spearers hoping to make history in 2009

OSHKOSH – Spearers taking to the ice for the Feb. 14 opening day of the Winnebago System sturgeon spearing seasons can expect nearly ideal spearing conditions and lots of really big fish, according to the state’s lead sturgeon biologist.

“Ice and water conditions coming into the 2009 season look very good and the prospects of seeing some really big fish are excellent,” says Ron Bruch, Department of Natural Resources sturgeon biologist and fisheries supervisor stationed in Oshkosh. “In fact, based on last year’s harvest and recent fish survey results, there’s a strong chance that some lucky spearer will make history by spearing the biggest fish ever.”

To read the rest of this article, visit Wisconsin's DNR Weekly News.

Also check out: Downloadable audio files featuring DNR Sturgeon Biologist Ron Bruch discussing the 2009 Winnebago System season are available online Lake Winnebago sturgeon pages of the DNR Web site.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Environmental contests for students

The Wisconsin Rural Water Association (WRWA) and local water utilities are sponsoring a water conservation poster competition for students, while the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is sponsoring both a poster and an essay contest about trees.

Teachers throughout Wisconsin are invited to enter the artwork of 1st-6th graders in the WRWA’s 2009 Water Conservation Poster Contest. Winners will receive prizes and have a chance at a prize for their school.

As part of the project, teachers are encouraged to discuss the importance of water resources, and schools may contact the WRWA for a possible presentation. The organization has provided some water facts to consider:

- Water is essential to life and is used in many ways.
- Wisconsin uses more than 7 billion gallons of water per day, with about 80% used for thermoelectric power.
- Each person uses approximately 60-80 gallons of water every day in Wisconsin.

Deadline for entries is March 11, 2009. More information and rules are available on-line.

Please view Wisconsin's state education newsletter for a list of more environment-themed contests.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review: Project Earth Science: Physical Oceanography

Project Earth Science: Physical Oceanography
By Brent A. Ford and P. Sean Smith

The following description is taken from the introduction of the workbook:
"This project was designed to prepare middle school teachers to lead workshops on topics in Earth science. The book is divided into three sections: activities, readings, and appendices. The activities in this volume are organized under three broad concepts. First, students investigate the unique properties of water and how these properties shape the ocean and the global environment. Second, students perform activities investigating the complex systems that lead to the development of currents, waves, and tides. This section focuses on the interactions of wind, water, gravity, and inertia. In the third section, students study the impact that humans have on the ocean and the marine environment, particularly effects of pollutants.

A set of readings follows the activities. Some readings intended to enhance teacher preparation-or serve as additional resources for students interested in further study-by elaborating on concepts presented in the activities. Other readings introduce supplemental material so that teachers can connect science to broader social issues.

An annotated bibliography is included as Appendix B and is intended to serve as a supplemental materials guide. Entries divided into various categories: activities and curriculum projects; books and booklets; audiovisual materials; instructional aids; information and references; Sea Grant programs, and Internet resources."

Some examples of activities are:
Estuaries-Where the Rivers Meet the Sea
Won't You BB My Hydrometer?
Water-The Universal Solvent
Oily Spills

If you are a UW-Madison student, faculty, or staff, please request this book from MadCat. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please request it through Wisconsin's Water Library Web site book request.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Airport runway deicers impact on the environment greater than previously thought

The most widely used compound to remove dangerous ice from runways at many of the nation's airports may impact the environment more than previously realized. New research shows that potassium acetate may be harmful to aquatic life. This is the first published study of potassium acetate in airport runoff.

These findings follow a major shift in formulations used to deice airports across the country. During the 1990s, U.S. airports began using potassium acetate as a replacement for urea, a compound known to contribute toxic ammonia to nearby streams. Today, 67 percent of U.S. airports that apply deicers to runways use potassium acetate instead of urea.

Between 1996 and 2006, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) worked with Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport (GMIA) and collected water samples from streams at four sites near the airport. During this study, GMIA, like many other airports, began using potassium acetate to replace urea.

Forty percent of the samples collected following the change had concentrations of potassium acetate at levels high enough to be detrimental to aquatic life. (EPA standards have not been established for potassium acetate.) Concentrations of ammonia in forty-one percent of water samples collected from airport outfalls when urea-based deicers were in use had exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) water quality standards.

To read more, please see complete article at USGS Newsroom.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Book Review: Bottlemania

Bottlemania: How water went on sale and why we bought it
By Elizabeth Royte

In the woods of western Maine, a water war rages between the townspeople and a multinational corporation. This case provides the backdrop of Royte's journey through the pipes and filters of tap water of almost every state in the country. From having a water tasting lunch with a bottled water connoisseur to drinking right from a bubbling spring, Royte delivers a history of people's love/hate relationship with water, bottled or not.

If you are a UW-Madison student, please request this book from MadCat. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please request it through Wisconsin's Water Library Web site book request.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

USGS publishes two new reports on Wisconsin's waters

The United States Geological Survey has issued two new reports on Wisconsin waters:

Flood of June 2008 in Southern Wisconsin
By Faith A. Fitzpatrick, Marie C. Peppler, John F. Walker, William J. Rose, Robert J. Waschbusch, and James L. Kennedy
From the Abstract:
In June 2008, heavy rain caused severe flooding across southern Wisconsin. The floods were aggravated by saturated soils that persisted from unusually wet antecedent conditions from a combination of floods in August 2007, more than 100 inches of snow in winter 2007–08, and moist conditions in spring 2008. The flooding caused immediate evacuations and road closures and prolonged, extensive damages and losses associated with agriculture, businesses, housing, public health and human needs, and infrastructure and transportation.

Record gage heights and streamflows occurred at 21 U.S. Geological Survey streamgages across southern Wisconsin from June 7 to June 21. Peak-gage-height data, peak-streamflow data, and flood probabilities are tabulated for 32 USGS streamgages in southern Wisconsin. Peak-gage-height and peak-streamflow data also are tabulated for three ungaged locations.

Environmental Settings of Selected Streams Sampled for Mercury in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Florida, 2002–06
By Amanda H. Bell and Michelle A. Lutz
From the Abstract:
From 2002 through 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program conducted studies investigating mercury biogeochemistry and food-web bioaccumulation in eight streams from three distinct geographic areas of the United States. These streams varied greatly in environmental characteristics, including land-cover, hydrologic, climatic, and chemical characteristics. They ranged from a clear-water, high-gradient, low-percentage wetland stream in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, to an urban stream near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to a low-gradient, blackwater stream draining the Okefenokee and Pinhook Swamps along the Georgia-Florida border. This report summarizes the environmental settings of these eight streams.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Predicting future introductions of nonindigenous species to the Great Lakes

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has released a final report, Predicting Future Introductions of Nonindigenous Species to the Great Lakes. This report predicts the spread of aquatic nonindigenous species into the Great Lakes to help resource managers focus monitoring activities on particular species at the most vulnerable U.S. Great Lakes ports. The report also demonstrates the use of a habitat suitability model and ballast water discharge data to predict invasion potential.

Wisconsin's Water Library wins Webbie Award!

From Joy Schwarz, 2008 Wisconsin Library Association, Media and Technology Section Chair:

"Congratulations! It's my pleasure to inform you that Wisconsin's Water Library at UW-Madison has won the 2008 Media and Technology Section's Webbies award in the "Most Accessible Web Site" category."

Read more....

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Book Review: The Snowflake

The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty
By Kenneth Libbrecht
Photography by Patricia Rasmussen

This brief, but detailed account of the history, life, and look of a snowflake is perfect for deflecting the winter blues. Libbrecht's text is full of knowledge and mystery, inspiring the layperson as well as the physicist. Snowflake shape, symmetry, and weather are discussed to provide a field guide for your own exploration. Rasmussen, a Wisconsin native, provides stunning photos as well as an afterword discussing her personal experience with snowflake photography.

If you are a UW-Madison student, please request this book from MadCat. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please request it through Wisconsin's Water Library Web site book request.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

From Wisconsin's Water Library: New Recent Acquisitions List

Now available from Wisconsin's Water Library. The library has new titles on climate change, wetlands, art and water and more.

Check it out!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Eco-Reading: CCBC's bibliography for children and teens

The Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) is a library of UW-Madison's School of Education with a non-circulating collection of children and young adult literature. Their annual publication, CCBC Choices, is described as a best-of-the-year list for teachers, parents, librarians, childcare providers, students, and anyone interested in children and young adult literature. Recently, CCBC unveiled an Eco-Reading bibliography, highlighting books for children and teens that enhance appreciation for nature and the earth, increase understanding of environmental challenges, and inspire action for change.

Please take a look at the entire bibliography, as well as the list below of titles available from Wisconsin's Water Library:

Salmon Forest by David Suzuki and Sarah Ellis. Illustrated by Sheena Lott. Ages 5-9.

The Drop in My Drink by Meredith Hooper. Illustrated by Chris Coady. Ages 6-10.

The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy by Kathryn Lasky. Photographed by Christopher G. Knight. Ages 7-11.

The Living Earth by Eleanore Schmid. Ages 4-8.

Song of the Water Boatman: & Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Becky Prange. Ages 5-9.

An Island Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk on a Barrier Island by Virginia Wright-Frierson. Ages 7-11.

A North American Rain Forest Scrapbook by Virginia Wright-Frierson. Ages 8-14.

Common Ground: The Water, Earth and Air We Share by Molly Bang. Ages 5-8.

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Scientists in the Field) by Loree Griffin Burns. Ages 8-12.

Flush by Carl Hiassen. Ages 11-14.

Nobody Particular by Molly Bang. Ages 8-14.

Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich. Illustrated by Wendell Minor.

Once a Wolf: How Wildlife Biologists Fought to Bring Back the Gray Wolf by Stephen R. Swinburne. Ages 7-14.

If you are a UW-Madison faculty, student, or staff, please request any of these titles on MadCat. If you are a Wisconsin resident, please visit our Web site.