Thursday, September 29, 2011

Climate Change and Fall Colors

Wisconsin is a perfect place to take a drive and see the leaves change colors. However, as our climate changes, the timing and colors associated with leaves falling changes too. The study of this is called "phenology," and it can help scientists understand animal habitats and water flow- both of which affect people. From studying phenology, we can decide how best to manage resources now and in the future.

What does this mean for those of us who simply like to enjoy the fall colors? The next time you go for a fall hike or drive, consider becoming involved with the USA National Phenology Network. Through participating with this organization, people can record their observations about nature and help determine how climate change is affecting our environments.

The USA National Phenology Network was established by the USGS in collaboration with the National Science Foundation.

Click here to learn more about how climate change affects leaf fall, and what you can do to help.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week, Sept 24-Oct 1

Banned Books Week has officially begun! Always held the last week in September, Banned Books Week gives us an opportunity to celebrate the freedom of access to information- as well as bringing awareness to the harms of censorship.

During this week, libraries, schools, and booksellers often feature books that have been been banned in libraries or schools in the United States. However, the American Libraries Association states that, "Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections." Help spread the word about Banned Books Week, and celebrate the freedom to read!

Interested in learning more? Check out these great links:
Care to guess at some banned book titles? Visit the Water Library Facebook page throughout the week to take our Banned Books polls!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wisconsin Science Festival- This Weekend!

This weekend, September 22-25, is a great time to come to campus and learn about science! The Wisconsin Science Festival is taking place primarily at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery's Town Center, as well as a variety of other locations.

Events include glass blowing, soldering and electronics kit building, a food science demonstration, and more! While you're on campus, don't forget to visit the Geology Museum or go star gazing at Washburn Observatory. Events are numerous, with programs for children as well as adults. Click here to view a full program. The Water Library's own Anne Moser will be staffing an "Ask a Science Librarian" table, so don't hesitate to come ready with questions!

The festival is presented by UW Madison, the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beach Cleanups on the Great Lakes

The most common pieces of trash found on Great Lakes beaches are cigarette butts- 129,697 in 2011 alone, to be exact. Just ask the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a Chicago-based nonprofit that plays a big role in keeping Great Lakes beaches swimmer friendly. AGL works with individuals, families, and businesses to help sponsor beach cleanups in all six Great Lakes states- Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and New York. While volunteers are organized year round, this is the biggest month for the organization, with thousands of volunteers joining together for the September Adopt-A-Beach day, this year on September 17th.

According to their website, 70,000 volunteers have picked up 164 tons of debris from Great Lakes beaches since 1991- in the month of September alone. Volunteers keep track of their finds, counting and weighing everything. AGL keeps careful statistics of this information- recent data is available in an online searchable directory. Cleanups also include water testing for bacteria to determine if water is safe for swimming.

Volunteers weigh their trash bags at Montrose Beach, Chicago, IL.

Interested in adopting a beach or helping with a future cleanup? Click here to find out about opportunities to partner with the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Photo courtesy of Lloyd DeGrane