Monday, August 31, 2009

Water Library has been on hiatus

Wisconsin's Water Library was enjoying the last days of summer up on Washington Island in Lake Michigan last week so AquaLog has been a bit quiet... More posts will be coming soon but for now here are some interesting things to read about:

The Groundwater Coordinating Council 2009 Report to the Legislature is now available online. The Library contributed to this report.

Be sure to check out the new course offered on Shoreline Protection - Sept. 9 - 11, 2009. Sponsored by the UW Madison, Dept. of Engineering Professional Development.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Limnologist Casts Human Factor into Lake Study

MADISON - For well more than 100 years, a succession of eminent biologists and ecologists have used Wisconsin lakes as their laboratory, dissecting their physical attributes as well as the complex interplay of the plants and animals that live in them. A lake, after all, is a busy place, filled with aquatic vegetation, mollusks, microbial communities of all kinds and, of course, fish and the stuff they eat.

In short, a lake is far more than just a wet spot on the landscape. And in Wisconsin, we have more than 15,000 lakes and there is no question they are a beloved natural resource woven into the cultural and social fabric of our state. Lakes are iconic, used to draw tourists and businesses and to promote our quality of life. They are economically vital, underpinning recreational, real estate and sporting industries, and in some places, they represent a way of life. Up north, for example, in an area bounded roughly by Tomahawk, Eagle River, Park Falls and the Michigan border, is one of the world's greatest concentrations of freshwater lakes.

To read entire article, go to UW-Madison news.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Look what we found in the library!

Books on climate change. Not exactly anything rare or strange but as staff in the Water Library have been cataloging new books, we noticed there are two new titles that may be of interest to AquaLog readers:

Climate Change: Picturing the Science / by Gavin Schmidt and Joshua Wolf. New York : W.W. Norton, 2009.
Going beyond the headlines, this unprecedented union of scientific analysis and stunning photography by leading climate scientist Schmidt and master photographer Wolfe illustrates the ramifications of a shifting climate on the global ecosystem. (call number: 030844)

Understanding climate change : climate variability, predictability, and change in the midwestern United States / Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 2009.
This book focuses on the Midwestern United States -- a region that contains approximately one-fifth of the nation's population, plays a critical role in national agricultural productivity, and experiences a high frequency of extreme events. Employing observational data and model simulations, the research presented here provides detailed assessments of climate change, variability, and predictability over the past 100 years with predictions for the coming century. Edited by S.C. Pryor. (Call Number: 030845)

In addition, be sure to take a look at the library's recommended reading list on climate change.

All of these items are available for checkout - just send an email to

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New report on mercury in fish, water, and sediment

A new report from U.S. Geological Society shows mercury contamination detected in every fish sampled in 291 streams across the country. Mercury (Hg) was examined in top-predator fish, bed sediment, and water from streams that spanned regional and national gradients of Hg source strength and other factors thought to influence methylmercury (MeHg) bioaccumulation. Sampled settings include stream basins that were agricultural, urbanized, undeveloped (forested, grassland, shrubland, and wetland land cover), and mined (for gold and Hg).

Read press release.

Read full text of report.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New proposed rule for airport deicing operations

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a proposal for more environmentally friendly practices for airport deicing discharges while maintaining the safety of airport operations. The new proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register, with a 120 day public comment period.

Read the EPA press release.

The full details from EPA are presented here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Will a well-mixed, warmer lake doom invasive fish?

The rainbow smelt, an invasive fish that threatens native species such as walleye and perch, may soon be feeling the heat — literally.

In an experiment that could show the way to evicting the unwanted fish from Wisconsin lakes, UW-Madison scientists and engineers hope to experimentally warm Crystal Lake in Vilas County in an effort to selectively wipe out the smelt. Using a device known as a GELI, an apparatus that looks like a submerged trampoline, the researchers will mix the waters of the 83-acre lake to warm the cool, deeper waters where the rainbow smelt thrive.

To read entire article, go to UW-Madison News.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sick Fish May Get Sicker: Climate Change and Other Stresses Expected to Affect Entire Populations of Fish

Entire populations of North American fish already are being affected by several emerging diseases, a problem that threatens to increase in the future with climate change and other stresses on aquatic ecosystems, according to a noted U.S. Geological Survey researcher giving an invited talk on this subject today at the Wildlife Disease Association conference in Blaine, Wash.

“A generation ago, we couldn’t have imaged the explosive growth in disease issues facing many of our wild fish populations,” said Dr. Jim Winton, a fish disease specialist at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center. “Most fish health research at that time was directed toward diseases of farmed fish.”

In contrast, said Winton, recent studies in natural aquatic systems have revealed that, in addition to being a cause of natural death, infectious and parasitic fish diseases can produce significantly greater mortality in altered habitats leading to population fluctuations, extinction of endangered fish, reduced overall health and increased susceptibility to predation.

In addition, said Winton, populations of certain fish species have suffered catastrophic losses after non-native diseases were first introduced into a water body. Examples include whirling disease in the intermountain west and the recent introduction of viral hemorrhagic septicemia in the Great Lakes.

To read full report, go to USGS.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What Science Says About Beach Sand and Stomach Aches

By washing your hands after digging in beach sand, you could greatly reduce your risk of ingesting bacteria that could make you sick. In new research, scientists have determined that, although beach sand is a potential source of bacteria and viruses, hand rinsing may effectively reduce exposure to microbes that cause gastrointestinal illnesses.

“Our mothers were right! Cleaning our hands before eating really works, especially after handling sand at the beach,” said Dr. Richard Whitman, the lead author of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. “Simply rinsing hands may help reduce risk, but a good scrubbing is the best way to avoid illness.”

For this study, scientists measured how many E. coli bacteria could be transferred to people’s hands when they dug in sand. They analyzed sand from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Using past findings on illness rates, scientists found that if individuals were to ingest all of the sand and the associated biological community retained on their fingertip, 11 individuals in 1000 would develop symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. Ingestion of all material on the entire hand would result in 33 of 1000 individuals developing gastrointestinal illness.

To read full report, go to USGS.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In the News: Cudahy's move could aid UWM

Philanthropist and retired business executive Michael Cudahy has paid $1 million for the lease on the former Pieces of Eight restaurant property, another step in the effort to turn the lakefront site over to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

UWM wants to build a water research facility on the site, seen by economic development leaders as a key part of plans to boost water research and industries in the Milwaukee area.

Cudahy said Monday that he bought Specialty Restaurants of Wisconsin Inc., which holds the lease on the former restaurant property, owned by the City of Milwaukee.

Cudahy plans to donate the lease to UWM if city officials approve the university's proposal for a School of Freshwater Sciences building at the restaurant site.

That proposal is pending before the city Board of Harbor Commissioners, which is to meet Aug. 13. The board is to make a recommendation to the Common Council on whether the lease, set to expire in 2018, should be extended to accommodate UWM.

To read entire article, go to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Monday, August 10, 2009

People of the Sturgeon: Wisconsin's Love Affair with an Ancient Fish

People of the Sturgeon is now available! The Aquatic Sciences Center (ASC)'s Kathleen Kline is co-author, along with UW Sea Grant specialist Fred Binkowski and Wisconsin DNR's Fred Bruch. Purchase your copy today!

Now available at ASC's publications store.

2009 Sea Grant Awards

Congratulations to Wisconsin Sea Grant specialist Victoria Harris! She recently received a Mid-Career Sea Grant Award. Harris has been a Wisconsin Sea Grant specialist of Water Quality & Habitat Restoration for 10 years. From her office on the UW-Green Bay campus, she serves the area around Green Bay, Lake Michigan, including Brown, Oconto, Marinette and Door counties. Vicky’s initiatives focus on contaminated sediment remediation of the Fox River and Green Bay, sustainable community development, nonpoint-source pollution prevention in the Fox-Wolf and Green Bay watersheds, coastal habitat protection and restoration, and ecosystem responses to water quality improvements. She holds B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

To learn more about Harris, go to

To view all Sea Grant award winners, click on Sea Grant.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Google Maps Rumsey Historical Maps

David Rumsey is one of the world's great map collectors, and he has been very generous by sharing his treasures via the David Rumsey Map Collection website. Recently, Rumsey has selected 120 historical maps from his collection to link up with data from Google Maps and Google Earth. These maps are tremendous repositories of historical and cultural information by themselves, and when they are joined up with the other maps, they present a multifaceted way of visualizing the past, present, and future of these locales.

As the website notes, this is "a marriage of historic cartographic masterpieces with innovative contemporary software tools." First-time visitors can read the explanation of how this is done, and then scroll down to look through the list of maps, which includes Chicago in 1857, Moscow in 1836, Kyoto in 1709, and a celestial globe from 1792. Also, visitors can toggle the satellite view via the Google Maps overlay map in order to compare and contrast the changes that have occurred over the past decades and centuries.

To view historical maps, go to David Rumsey Map Collection.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keeping it local: UW-Madison diners get 'homegrown' veggies

A new local food initiative on campus is starting very close to home.

For the first time this summer, UW Housing's Dining and Culinary Services is sourcing some of its produce from a small plot in Allen Centennial Gardens on campus. Diners at Frank's Place — the dining facility in Holt Commons — have been enjoying fresh greens, radishes and onions grown just a few hundred feet away, and some of the lettuce in the Babcock Dairy Store's sandwiches and salads may have had a shorter trip to the store than the patron eating it.

The vegetables are growing just west of the historic house in Allen Centennial Gardens, in a raised bed designed in the style of the traditional "kitchen garden" common in late 19th century Wisconsin.

To read full article by Jill Sakai, go to UW-Madison News.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wetlands resource from US Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency that provides information to the public on the extent and status of the Nation's wetlands. The agency has developed a series of topical maps to show wetlands and deepwater habitats. This geospatial information is used by Federal, State, and local agencies, academic institutions, and private industry for management, research, policy development, education and planning activities. Digital data can be viewed and downloaded through several methods.

Wetlands provide a multitude of ecological, economic and social benefits. They provide habitat for fish, wildlife and a variety of plants. Wetlands are nurseries for many saltwater and freshwater fishes and shellfish of commercial and recreational importance. Wetlands are also important landscape features because they hold and slowly release flood water and snow melt, recharge groundwater, act as filters to cleanse water of impurities, recycle nutrients, and provide recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities for millions of people.

To view the National Wetlands Inventory, go to US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Turfgrass irrigation system helps manage stormwater

MADISON - This summer, Doug Soldat is saving for a not-so-rainy day.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison soil scientist is banking rainwater, up to 8,000 gallons of it, enough to keep the lawn at UW-Madison's O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility lush through the driest weeks of summer.

Soldat and graduate student Brad DeBels installed two 4,000-gallon tanks, like rain barrels on steroids, that collect rainwater from the roof of the turfgrass facility's main building on Madison's far west side. Water from those tanks is used to irrigate nearby turf via subsurface drip irrigation lines.

Soldat views the setup as a prototype for a sustainable turfgrass irrigation system that does not rely on wells, water mains, storm drains or the electrical grid.

"In a three-month period we collected 19,000 gallons off the roof at the Noer Center and sent it all to the turf - 3,150 square feet of lawn," he says. "We were able to use and infiltrate all of the rain that that fell on the Noer Center's 7,000-square-foot rooftop."

To read entire article, go to UW-Madison News.

For information on another rainwater-saving technique, visit Wisconsin's Water Library's Rain Gardens reading list. Rain gardens capture water in a shallow depression planted with vegetation that filters the water as it slowly seeps into the ground. This creates cleaner groundwater and protects our lakes and streams.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Go Big Read: In Defense of Food available at Wisconsin's Water Library

The University of Wisconsin–Madison invites you to participate in its first common book program, Go Big Read. Initiated by Chancellor Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, the program will engage members of the campus community and beyond in a shared, academically focused reading experience. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are invited to participate by reading the book, and taking part in classroom discussions and campus events.

The book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto is available from Wisconsin's Water Library. If you are a UW-Madison faculty, student or staff member, please request through MadCat. If you are a Wisconsin resident, you can request this title by filling out the book request form.

For more information and events for Go Big Read, go to Schedule of Events.