Monday, December 21, 2009

Looking for a children's book for the holidays?

Wisconsin's Water Library has many lists of great books for children on a whole long list of water-related topics from fish to oceans to the Great Lakes. Check out our long list of topics for some ideas:


For the littlest ones, there are some great ABC or counting books for read aloud fun.

For the older child, the library has a long list of books about great explorers, scientists and others that work in the world of water.

And you are never too old or too young to read a [fish] tale.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Suggestions for readings on climate change

With world leaders gathered in Copenhagen discussing climate change, the Water Library has cataloged some recent titles on this important topic into its collection:

Climate change : the science, impacts and solutions / by A. Barrie Pittock. London : Earthscan ; Collingwood, VIC, 2009. Call No. 030851

Pittock examines the latest analyses of climate change, such as new and alarming observations regarding Arctic sea ice, the recently published IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, and the policies of the new Australian Government and how they affect the implementation of climate change initiatives. 2nd ed.

Global warming : looking beyond Kyoto / Ernesto Zedillo, editor. New Haven, Conn. : Center for the Study of Globalization, Yale University ; Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, 2008. Call No. 030856

The volume gathers essays by leading experts, ranging from climate scientists to economic modelers to lawyers, prepared after a conference at Yale University in late 2005. The authors provide a diverse range of views on the hardness of the scientific evidence for climate change; on the prospects for building an international cooperative arrangement on the basis of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012; and on alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol.

The great warming : climate change and the rise and fall of civilizations / Brian Fagan. New York : Bloomsbury Press : Distributed to the trade by Macmillan, 2008. Call No. 030860

Anthropologist and historian Brian Fagan reveals how subtle changes in the environment had far-reaching effects on human life, in a narrative that sweeps from the Arctic ice cap to the Sahara to the Indian Ocean.

Our choice : a plan to solve the climate crisis / By Albert Gore. New York : Melcher Media ; Emmaus, PA : Rodale: 2009. Call No. 030849

Our Choice gathers the solutions that could solve the climate crisis. It is meant to depoliticize the issue as much as possible and inspire readers to take action—not only on an individual basis but as participants in the political processes.

Storms of my grandchildren : the truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity / by James Hansen. New York : Bloomsbury USA, 2009. Call No. 030857

An urgent and provocative call to action from the world's leading climate scientist--speaking out here for the first time with the full story of what we need to know about humanity's last chance to get off the path to a catastrophic global meltdown, and why we don't know the half of it. Illustrations by Makiko Sato.

The Water Library also has an extended reading list if you wish to dig deeper into this topic. And these books are all available for checkout to any citizen from Wisconsin. Just send an email to askwater at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What happens to a water balloon in space?

From the radio show SCIENCE FRIDAY (

About ten years ago, two scientists had a little extra time on board NASA's low gravity aircraft and came up with the idea of popping water balloons. Mechanical engineers Seth Lichter, of Northwestern University, and Mark Weislogel, of Portland State University, use the floating water balls to explain some basic principles of physics.

More information is available from NASA.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Still doing your holiday shopping?

Staff at Wisconsin's Water Library are still looking for perfect gifts for friends and family and would like to suggest checking out the publications store at the Aquatic Sciences Center. There are some great gift ideas:

PEOPLE OF THE STURGEON: Through a fascinating collection of images, stories, and interviews, this book chronicles the history of this remarkable fish (which can live for a century and grow to 300 pounds) and the cultural traditions it has spawned. The authors introduce a colorful cast of characters, from conservationists to spear makers to decoy carvers--many with a good fish tale to tell.

YOUTH ART T-SHIRTS: High quality, 100% cotton, T-shirts with a green theme - mercury pollution inspired the creation of hundreds of imaginative and vivid art work by students aged 10 to 18 from seven countries around the world. Eight designs are reproduced on T-shirts that were originally sold at an international mercury conference held in Madison in 2006

GREAT LAKES FISH POSTER: This colorful poster features beautiful and highly accurate illustrations of 35 native and exotic Great Lakes fishes by famed wildlife artist Joseph R. Tomelleri.

For more great gift ideas, check out the Pubs Store. And Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Water Library is tweeting

If you use the free social networking and micro-blogging service Twitter, be sure to follow Wisconsin's Water Library. Library staff have been tweeting since early June. We have been using the service to send messages about water- (and library-) related news of interest to our patrons.

Give it a try and let us know what you think!

Wisconsin's Water Library Twitter feed

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate Change is big news this week

With the start of talks on climate change in Copenhagen, climate change is making big news. Wisconsin's Water Library has an extensive reading list for you to use if you want to learn more about the topics being debated and discussed in Copenhagen and around the world:

Link to recommended reading list

And anyone in Wisconsin can check out books in the Water Library. Please send an email to askwater at

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New research finds use for beach nuisance, Cladophora

If you have ever been on Lake Michigan in the summer, you might have experience the nuisance algae, Cladophora. During the past seven years, heaps of this rotting algae have piled up on some beaches around Lake Michigan. A powerful stench from the algae turns inviting beaches into wastelands. Walking is difficult, swimming is unthinkable, and mere breathing turns the stomach.

The offending plant is primarily Cladophora, a common filamentous green alga. Growing on submerged rocks, it looks like long green hair waving in the water. Cladophora is an important component of freshwater ecosystems, providing food and shelter for invertebrates and small fish. The recent excessive blooms in the Great Lakes, however, signal an ecosystem responding to both natural changes and human impacts.

Visit Wisconsin Sea Grant's page on Cladophora to read more and see a video about cladophora.

Read below about new research on cladophora - researchers in Sweden are working on creating paper-thin batteries can possibly from cladophora!
[Abstract from paper 'Ultrafast All-Polymer Paper-Based Batteries' by Nystrm, et al, Nano Lett., 2009, 9 (10), pp 3635–3639 [DOI: 10.1021/nl901852h; Copyright © 2009 American Chemical Society]

Conducting polymers for battery applications have been subject to numerous investigations during the last two decades. However, the functional charging rates and the cycling stabilities have so far been found to be insufficient for practical applications. These shortcomings can, at least partially, be explained by the fact that thick layers of the conducting polymers have been used to obtain sufficient capacities of the batteries. In the present letter, we introduce a novel nanostructured high-surface area electrode material for energy storage applications composed of cellulose fibers of algal origin individually coated with a 50 nm thin layer of polypyrrole. Our results show the hitherto highest reported charge capacities and charging rates for an all polymer paper-based battery. The composite conductive paper material is shown to have a specific surface area of 80 m2 g−1 and batteries based on this material can be charged with currents as high as 600 mA cm−2 with only 6% loss in capacity over 100 subsequent charge and discharge cycles. The aqueous-based batteries, which are entirely based on cellulose and polypyrrole and exhibit charge capacities between 25 and 33 mAh g−1 or 38−50 mAh g−1 per weight of the active material, open up new possibilities for the production of environmentally friendly, cost efficient, up-scalable and lightweight energy storage systems.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Important study on corrosion in Duluth Superior Harbor

Long-awaited research findings just published identify one possible mechanism responsible for accelerated steel corrosion in the Duluth-Superior harbor. The peer-reviewed paper published in CORROSION, The Journal of Science and Engineering, outlines a study led by Brenda Little, Senior Scientist, Marine Molecular Processes, Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center. The study was supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The press release goes on to say, "In layman’s terms, conclusions of this study describe the process by which specific iron-oxidizing bacteria attach to carbon steel, creating a “nodule” of biomass and corrosion products. Conditions beneath those nodules (i.e. “tubercles”) cause copper dissolved in harbor water to precipitate and adhere to the iron. When ice chunks scrape against those pilings each winter, the tubercles break, exposing the copper-covered iron to oxygen which, in turn, causes the steel in those pitted areas to corrode at a faster rate…creating an almost “Swiss cheese” effect in nearly 14 miles of steel pilings and dock walls along the Duluth-Superior waterfront."

Local participants in the work in Duluth Harbor include Gene Clark, specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant and Dale Bergeron from Minnesota Sea Grant.

Expect to hear more on this important research.

Read full text of findings.