Wednesday, December 19, 2012

On the topic of Snowstorms

The talk today hereabouts is all about the snowstorm headed our way, expected to arrive tonight after midnight.  The weather forecasters predict we'll be seeing anywhere from 12-17 inches of snowfall and high winds.  It's gotten us thinking about the phenomenon of snow and particularly snowstorms that bring large amounts of snow rapidly.

Snow is defined as precipitation in the form of flakes of crystalline water ice that falls from clouds.  Now what differentiates snowfall from a storm or a blizzard?  The difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind.  To be considered a blizzard the storm must have sustained gusts of wind in excess of 35 mph with blowing or drifting snow that impedes visibility to a quarter mile for a sustained period of time, typically 3 hours.   It appears we might be expecting a blizzard here in Madison.

Recently discovered was the online Wind Map, a personal art project that translates wind speeds and directions into a mesmerizing image.  Here's the current map of the wind patterns accompanying the winter storm headed our way.

Some weather related resources for tracking snowstorms:

Consult the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service online updates here

The National Weather Service's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center offers "Snowfall Probability Forecasts" updates available here

View the Wind Map, a mesmerizing way to visualize current wind movements here

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Video Review: Green Fire (Aldo Leopold And A Land Ethic For Our Time)

The legacy of conversationalist Aldo Leopold is the subject of the documentary Green Fire: Aldo Leopold And A Land Ethic For Our Time.  Conceived as a partnership between The Aldo Leopold Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, and The Center for Humans and Nature, the film highlights Leopold's extraordinary career and explains how he helped shape conservation and the modern environmental movement.  Leopolds's continuing influence is revealed as current projects throughout the United States are considered.   The film introduces us to a number of this present day examples of Leopold's legacy; for example, urban children in Chicago learning about local foods and ecological restoration,  responsible ranchers who demonstrate land stewardship in New Mexico and Arizona, and wildlife biologists who returning threatened and endangered species back to their their native landscapes.

If you are a Wisconsin resident and would like to check out this or any other book, please fill out our book request form. If you are a UW student, faculty or staff, please request books through the Library Catalog.

Watch the extended (13:29) trailer here
Official movie website here 
Visit The Aldo Leopold Organization's website here
More materials on Aldo Leopold are available at the Wisconsin's Water Library including:
Aldo Leopold: Protector of the Wild
Aldo Leopold's Odyssey
Correction Lines: Essays on Land, Leopold, and Conservation

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wisconsin Leads Great Lakes States on Scorecard

Wisconsin scored the highest ranking amongst fellow Great Lakes region states in a report that evaluates water efficiency.  Wisconsin scored highest with a B-, while Minnesota received a C+, New York a C, both Illinois and Indiana a C-, and Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania all tied for the lowest score of a D.  The Water Efficiency and Conservation State Scorecard: An Assessment of Laws and Policies is published by the Alliance for Water Efficiency, a non-profit group, and the Environmental Law Institute, a legal consulting firm.

The report's introduction states, "The intention behind adding the report and assigning grades is to create concise and useful information, and to bring attention to exemplary policies that may be used as models for other states to emulate."  According to the report, "Wisconsin received top points for their broadly applicable water conservation planning requirements" and goes on to conclude that Wisconsin "represents how water conservation planning can vary by source; Wisconsin has one generally applicable planning process for public water suppliers, and another planning process only applicable to large withdrawers from the Great Lakes Basin."  Wisconsin was granted high marks for the access to technical assistance provided as well as its water conservation planning. 

Certainly Wisconsin's success is worth mentioning, but fellow Great Lakes states who share the region's water resources may be more cause for pause and redoubling of our efforts to strive together to improve our collective scores. 

Read the entire The Water Efficiency and Conservation State Scorecard here

Thursday, December 6, 2012

New Water @ UW-Madison Website

This week saw the launch of a new website devoted to highlight UW-Madison's water related research, community, history, and resources:  

As the home page states "UW-Madison hosts a stunningly wide range of research, educational, and outreach activities related to water and water resources. These activities are distributed across the UW-Madison campus and beyond. Although there are many bridges between faculty, staff, and students with water interests, there is no formal coordination of activities. In response, we’ve developed this website..."

Take a moment to explore the website and all are encouraged to tell us what you think:

Special thanks to Wisconsin's Water Library's Anne Moser for her hard work on creating this useful resource.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Keep Your Eyes Peeled! Photography Filled Books

Our new book display focuses on books within our collection that are filled with photos.  Often referred to as "coffee table" books these large format selections offer a chance to be transported, while delving into their subjects, and feasting your eyes on spectacular photography.

Here are descriptions of three books featured in the display:

Ice: Portraits of Vanishing Glaciers by James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey Team (2012)

"A never-before-seen look into the forbidding environment of glaciers, this book celebrates a realm of magnificent endangered beauty. Since 2005, renowned nature photographer James Balog has devoted himself to capturing glaciers and documenting their daily changes. These stunning images are a celebration of some of the most extraordinary natural formations on earth, as well as a dramatic and timely demonstration of the stark consequences resulting from global warming—from Alaska to Iceland to the Alps." (excerpted from the book's description)

Distant Shores: Photographs from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan by Richard Olsenius (1990)

"Richard Olsenius is a 20-year veteran of newspaper and magazine photography and filmmaking.  He has won numerous awards including the prestigious World Press Photo award.  In 1987, Olsenius spent eight months on assignment for National Geographic Magazine covering the Great Lakes.  Distant Shores is an outgrowth of that assignment..."  (excerpted from the books "About the Authors" page)

Water Light Time by David Doubilet (1999)

"Beneath the world's waters lie landscapes, species, vegetation and populations as diverse and splendid as those on land, yet these kingdoms have been explored by few. is an extraordinary look at the work of David Doubilet, an artist and diver who pioneered the medium of deep-sea reportage to become widely acclaimed as the world's leading underwater photographer...From the waters of the Galapagos to the Red Sea, from the Pacific shores to the fresh waters of North America, "Water Light Time" includes over 25 years of Doubilet's work, and reveals the mesmerising beauty of more than 30 bodies of water." (excerpted from the book's dust cover)

If you are a Wisconsin resident and would like to check out this or any other book, please fill out our book request form. If you are a UW student, faculty or staff, please request books through the Library Catalog.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Mighty Fitz

When it first went into service in 1958, the Edmund Fitzgerald was one of the largest and most expensive freighters ever built.  Its tragic demise on November 10th, 1975 was to become one of the most legendary shipwrecks ever witnessed in America's inland waters.  Lifelong resident of the Great Lakes region Michael Schumacher has written twenty-five documentaries on shipwrecks and lighthouses.  We are pleased to add his latest book, Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald  to the Wisconsin's Water Libraries collection. 

Schumacher delves deep into the history of the ship, describing her many years on the Great Lakes, the fateful wreck, search efforts, and the subsequent controversy and investigation.  Booklist concludes that Mighty Fitz is "a thoroughly admirable addition to Great Lakes history."  We agree and encourage you to check it out.

If you are a Wisconsin resident and would like to check out this or any other book, please fill out our book request form. If you are a UW student, faculty or staff, please request books through the Library Catalog.

For more on Great Lakes Shipwrecks:

Browse Wisconsin's Water Library's Recommended Reading List on Great Lakes Shipwrecks here
Visit Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks website here
Publisher The University of Minnesota Press' official website here
And finally, watch a clip of musician Gordon Lightfoot performing his song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald  here

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

Wisconsin's Water Library seeks out opportunities to engage our community, share our collection and promote literacy, while exploring science topics, particularly water related ones.  This week we are looking forward to a visit with the preschool-aged students at the Ho-Chunk Head Start program near Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.  Our theme this visit is the solar system and we have books to read aloud, a craft to make, and a fun zero gravity walking activity planned around the theme of "The Sun, the Moon and the Stars".

As we are visiting a school within a Native American community, one online resource we have referred to in selecting materials for this story time is the website American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL).  Begun in 2006 by University of Illinois Professor Debbie Reese, the AICL website is a rich resource that "provides critical perspectives and analysis of indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books, the school curriculum, popular culture, and society."  Reese recommended Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross' The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale and we'll be sharing it with the preschoolers tomorrow!

Read the AICL review of The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale here


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: The Bark River Chronicles

Recently added to the library's collection is The Bark River Chronicles: Stories from a Wisconsin Watershed by Milton J. Bates .  The Bark River valley region of Southeastern Wisconsin is used to explore a diverse assortment of topics.  The book outlines the author's voyage by canoe from the Bark River's headwaters, through its confluence with the Rock River, and finally joining up to Lake Koshkonong.  The book connects the this meandering river route taken to corresponding stories including those of early settlements, glaciation, effigy mounds, the Black Hawk War, the development of waterpower sites, and the damage done by water pollution and invasive species. 

As the Wisconsin Historical Society Press review concludes, "for the two voyageurs who paddle the length of the Bark, it is a journey of rediscovery and exploration. As they glide through marshes, woods, farmland, and cities, they acquire not only historical and environmental knowledge but also a renewed sense of the place in which they live."

If you are a Wisconsin resident and would like to check out this or any other book, please fill out our book request form. If you are a UW student, faculty or staff, please request books through the Library Catalog.

Wisconsin Historical Society Press info on the book here
Milton J. Bates' author biography here

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Open Access Science Resources

Open Access has made it possible gain access to high quality, peer-reviewed scientific research and information without the prohibitive cost associated with many subscription resources. 

Open Access Week was just observed October 22-28 and resulted in the sharing of many useful resources.   We came across Matthew Von Hendy's blog post "Open Access Science Resources" and wanted to highlight five of his suggestions.
  1. Science Gov:  is a government website allowing users to search over 50 U.S. government science-related databases and websites. websites improvements were the subject of a recent AquaLog post, available here.
  2. offers a federated search that covers national and international government science resources.
  3. Public Library of Science : publishes seven high quality peer-reviewed open access journals.
  4. Toxnet:  Offers access to the United States National Library of Medicine databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health and toxic releases.
  5. DOE Information Systems: offers a federated search covering Department of Energy related research, articles and conference proceedings.
For more Open Access suggestions, consult Matthew Von Hendy's complete blog post here 
Open Access Week information here

Monday, November 5, 2012

USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center Tour

We recently attended the Wisconsin Library Association's Annual Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  One morning, along with a group of fellow attendees, we boarded a bus and headed to the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) for a tour.  The UMESC works with a wide range of partners to conduct applied research essential to solving natural resource management problems.  UMESC is also the science leader of the Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP), the Nation's largest river monitoring program with six remote state-operated field stations.

Our tour presented a fascinating overview of their facilities, their various research projects underway, and resources available to environmental scientists, educators, librarians, and the public.  The Center maintains a research fishery with representatives of every species of fish known in the Upper Midwest region held in large tanks.  A separate secure room houses tanks with Asian Carp, as they are conducting research to develop new methods for controlling  and mitigating the effects of these aquatic invasive species through chemical, biological, or physical means.  Our tour concluded with the center's library and a presentation by their Librarian, Lisa Hein.

A fascinating tour and all are encouraged to schedule their own visit of the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center and to use their numerous online resources.

Wisconsin's Water Library's Facebook Photo Album from the tour here
UMESC Aquatic Invasive Species Control Programs webpage here
Consult our Water Research Guide on Invasive Species here

Friday, October 19, 2012

Clean Water Act Celebrates 40 Years

This week we celebrate the achievements of the Clean Water Act as it reaches a 40 year milestone.  Through the early decades of the 20th Century, rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters had become gravely threatened by pollution from unchecked industrial sources and outdated and inadequate wastewater treatment infrastructure. Countless waterways across the country were so polluted they were unfit for any purpose.  The impact of this unchecked pollution reached a undeniable crisis moment when the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Cleveland in 1969.  The dramatic sight of these burning waters certainly provided a strong impetus for future legislation.

American citizens then pressured Congress to act to protect our water resources. This advocacy led to the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972, a landmark expansion of previous provisions to protect the nation’s water resources. The Clean Water Act, as these Amendments came to be known, have led to tremendous progress in the restoration of America’s waters.

While much has been accomplished, there is always more to be done to protect our water resources.  EPA's website concludes "many challenges remain and we must work together to protect clean water for our families and future generations. Everyone has an impact on the water and we are all responsible for making a difference. Water is worth it."

Resources for further reading:

The EPA Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary Page
EPA's Summary of the Clean Water Act
History of Water Quality Standards
University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute
My Clean Water Act Advocacy
EPA Information for Kids

Monday, October 15, 2012

RADIOACTIVE - a guest book review

We asked Yael Gen, our in-house designer and talented artist in her own right, to read and review for us this year's GO BIG READ title, RADIOACTIVE by Lauren Redniss. Below are her thoughtful words about this year's choice.

"As an avowed bibliophile and print designer who only recently succumbed to (and thoroughly enjoyed) my first e-reader, encountering Lauren Redniss’s Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, a Tale of Love and Fallout is a joyous reminder of the impact of the printed page. Redniss reveals a story of love and loss that includes Marie’s sad childhood, Pierre Curie’s untimely and random demise under the wheels of a horse cart, a storybook romance between their daughter and Marie’s research assistant and even scandal, when the widowed Marie Curie carries on an affair with a married scientist. There was no delineation between Marie and Pierre Curies’ research and personal lives. “Their handwritings intermingle in their notebooks. …the initials ‘M’ and ‘P’ are scripted directly atop each other.”

Redniss creates a modern hybrid of an illuminated manuscript crossed with a graphic novel; rich with image and text. There are details one could squabble with. The typeface that is used throughout the book can be difficult to read on some of the pages that are dense with text. But it’s hard to take Redniss to task after reading the lovely and extensive notes and discovering that she created the typeface “based on title pages of manuscripts at the New York Public Library.” 

Redniss’ drawing style is loose and spidery and the cyanotype process imbues them an ethereal quality. She artfully weaves archival documents (Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Irving Lowen’s FBI file ) and photos between her original, luminous cyanotypes and vibrant narrative to create something that is classified as a graphic novel for convenience. Radioactive is a unique book-as-object experience, one that I recommend you keep on your nightstand. When you switch off your light, the cover glows in the dark like the jar of radium Marie Curie kept by her pillow."

Ms. Redniss speaks tonight (Monday October 15th) in Madison at a free event.  Details.

Thanks to Ms. Gen for her review!

Friday, October 12, 2012

The "dirt" on Dirt

We recently screened the documentary film Dirt! the movie.  The film explores the relationship between humans and soil, including its necessity for human life and the numerous threats brought caused by short-sighted activities such as monoculture, deforestation, pesticides, and mountaintop removal mining.  The film also highlights many positive steps being taken to safeguard and restore this essential resource. The Wisconsin's Water Library has over a thousand journals, books, and reports related to soil, erosion, and its impact upon our water resources.  Consider browsing them to find out more on the subject.  

Here's more info on the documentary:

Dirt!: the movie 
View movie trailer here
Curtis, J. Lee, & Logan, W. Bryant. (2009). Dirt!: the movie. Deluxe ed. [U.S.]: Common Ground Media.

And here's some other Dirt-themed selections from our collection:

Dear dirt doctor : questions answered the natural way
Garrett, H. (2003). Dear dirt doctor : questions answered the natural way. 1st rev. ed. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Eat more dirt : diverting and instructive tips for growing and tending an organic garden
Sandbeck, E. (2003). Eat more dirt : diverting and instructive tips for growing and tending an organic garden. New York: Broadway Books.

Finally here's the dirt-themed dessert our co-worker Terri Liebmann made to share for our screening!  We literally ate "dirt", and it was delicious!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

New Improvements for Website

In preparation for their 10th Anniversary in December, has recently made some significant updates to their website that launched in 2002. They have added video content, created new search features, and now offer a Spanish language version. is a tremendous research tool that can conduct searches of over 55 databases, over 2100 selected websites, 13 federal agencies, while culling its results from over 200 million pages of authoritative U.S. government science information.  Topics can now be visualized within your search results and multimedia is automatically searched in addition to text. now connects users with the video resources of Science.Cinema, MedlinePLUS, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and by using innovative audio indexing and speech recognition technology users are able to search for specific words and phrases spoken within these video files. And finally, is the new Spanish version of the website and utilizes Microsoft’s Translator to initiate searches with results appearing in Spanish.

On the subject of the updates, OSTI Director Walter Warnick concludes “Now contains multimedia content and is accessible to the Spanish-speaking public. We are pleased with these developments and we fully intend to continue enhancing the value and utility of” 

Explore the new Results Visualization Tool here

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Banned Books Week - Science Edition

This year marks the 30th annual Banned Books Week and Wisconsin's Water Library has created a display of challenged and banned science books to mark the occasion. The American Library Association and others sponsor Banned Books Week to "highlight the value of free and open access to information."

For our display, we chose to highlight the importance of free scientific discourse while considering the potential harm caused by censorship.  Many libraries, schools and bookstores nationwide display books that have been challenged for the presumed dangers of their content and ideas being made available to the public. However, the Library Bill of Rights states in article III that: "Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment."  With this goal in mind, we encourage you to explore some of these important science texts that are part of the display and read why they have been challenged over the years:

BIOLOGY by Karen Arms and Pamela S. Camp
(1985) Bowing to pressure from opponents of the textbook planned for the use in a high school honors course, the Garland Independent School District’s (Texas) central textbook selection committee withdrew its recommendation because the text includes “overly explicit diagrams of sexual organs, intricate discussion of sexual stimulation, and the implication of abortion as a means of birth control.”

HEALTH by John LaPlace
(1984) Challenged at the Randolph High School (New Jersey) by a group of parents and clergy who say “the textbook is too liberal and should be replaced or supplemented by a more traditional book.”

HUMAN SEXUALITY by Elizabeth Winship, Frank Caparulo, and Vivian K. Harlin
(1994) Removed from use in health classes by the Belleville School District School Board (Missouri) after parents had complained that the book “didn’t stress abstinence from sex by high school students,” and because “it didn’t say whether sexual relations before marriage, homosexuality, masturbation, or abortion are right or wrong.”

(1981) Officials of the Christian Research Center requested San Diego (California) school administrators to keep this title out of all high school libraries because Asimov “subjects the Bible to merciless and unremitting destructive attack.”

(1997) The Franklin County school board (North Carolina) ordered three chapters cut out of the ninth-grade health textbooks.  Those chapters dealt with AIDS, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases; pairing, marriage, and parenting; and sexual behavior and contraception.

(1859)  Banned from Trinity College in Cambridge, England. 
(1925)  Tennessee passed a law prohibiting teachers from teaching the theory of evolution in state supported schools.  John T. Scopes, a science teacher in Dayton, volunteered to be the test case for Tennessee’s anti-evolution law.  The Scopes’s “monkey trial,” eventually was thrown out on a technicality.
(1935)  Banned in Yugoslavia.
(1937)  Banned in Greece.
(1925)  Tennessee passed a law prohibiting teachers from teaching the theory of evolution in state supported schools. 
(1980)  Arkansas and Louisiana state boards of education required teaching both creationism and evolution in public schools.  These laws were ruled unconstitutional in 1987 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Edwards v. Aguillard.

(2006) Retained in the Seaman Unified School Disrtict 345 (Kansas) elementary school library.  Objections were raised because the book is about the scientific theory of evolution.

(1977) The Brighton School Board (Michigan) voted to remove all sex education books from the high school library.

Source used: Doyle, Robert P. Banned Books : Challenging Our Freedom to Read. Chicago, Ill.: American Library Association, 2010.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wisconsin Science Festival

Today is the first day of the Wisconsin Science Festival which will run September 27-30 all around the UW-Madison campus and throughout Madison.  Wisconsin's Water Library staff will be volunteering at the "Ask a Science Librarian" table at the  Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery all day today.   Librarians will be available Thursday & Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to help you learn how to use online science search tools, databases, and more. Stop by and pick up a Bucky Go Big Read! poster, register to win a one of three copies of this years's Go Big Read! title, Radioactive, and help yourself to flyers, bookmarks or puzzles. 

The Wisconsin Science Festival is the invention of a growing coalition of scientists, artists, citizens, and organizations passionate about engaging everyone in the wonder and power of science. The organizers plan for the festival to change and expand locations each year so that it is hosted in multiple venues across the state.

Wisconsin Science Festival website here
Link to the program of each day's events here
Printable PDF of the Program Guide here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

EPA Set To Release New Tool Called The National Stormwater Calculator (SWC)

When heavy rain hits the pavement of a large parking lot it can create havoc when the flood of runoff overwhelms nearby drainage sewers.  The EPA is developing a tool that will give planners and property developers green infrastructure options that can alleviate this runoff burden.  Measures such as rain gardens, rain barrels, and designing natural areas that absorb rainwater can help with the issues associated with stormwater drainage.  Users of the National Stormwater Calculator (SWC) will be able to access a number of databases to determine local soil and weather conditions for their chosen site.   They can then estimate the annual amount and frequency of stormwater runoff for a specific site based on historical rainfall records and predict the potential impact of implementing green infrastructure options.

The National Stormwater Calculator is in the final stages of review and will be available on EPA’s “Models, Databases and Tools for Water Resource Protection” website when completed.

Read about how planners and watershed administrators came up with an innovative method to control phosphorus and sediment runoff on a 70 acre shopping mall parking lot in Minnesota here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council Report Published

The Groundwater Coordinating Council (GCC) recently published its annual evaluation of the state of Wisconsin's groundwater.  Seeking to identify current and future threats, its goals include coordinating groundwater monitoring and research, fostering public education, and identifying effective solutions.

The 2012 GCC Report's recommendations include issues of immediate concern (viruses and other pathogens), efforts that require continued support (implementing a statewide monitoring strategy), and emerging issues that need to be addressed in the near future (frac sand mining).

UW Sea Grant's Director Jim Hurley served on the Groundwater Coordinating Council and subcommittee members from the University of Wisconsin System included Paul McGinley, Maureen Muldoon, Tim Grundl, and Trina McMahon.

Wisconsin's DNR article about the report can be read here
Recommendations: Directions for Further Groundwater Protection can be read here
Link to read the full report here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

The United States and Canada recently revised and signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  Originally conceived in 1972 as an outcome of the Boundary Waters Treaty to address phosphorus pollution, it was revised in 1978 and expanded with the stated goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.”  This latest revision restates these commitments and expands the provisions to address the following concerns:
  • Aquatic Invasive Species
  • Habitat Degradation
  • Algae Blooms
  • Toxic Chemicals
  • Discharges from Vessels
  • Management of the Nearshore Environment
  • Effects of Climate Change
Seen as a useful step forward for both countries to identify priorities and create policy, the agreement has also raised some criticism for it's lack of legal standards for pollution and penalties for those who violate the terms of the agreement.

Read the entire 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement here
Great Lakes Law blog reports concerns about the public's input into the agreement here

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Featuring: Lake Superior

We are heading north for vacation this weekend so it seemed like a good day to point out some great resources for travel to one of our favorite places in the world: Lake Superior. Being the most northern of the Great Lakes, it's not certain swimming is on the itinerary but boating in, gazing at and hiking around most certainly are.

Here are some tools that should accompany anyone traveling there:
Where is your favorite place in the world?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Conserving water in dry conditions

The heat has abated a bit here in southern Wisconsin but the Badger State is still dealing with near drought conditions in southern Wisconsin. Many are thinking of ways to conserve water. The city of Madison Water Utility has some great ideas:
  • Unless you have a newly sodded or seeded lawn, stop watering it. Established, healthy lawns can survive several weeks of dormancy during summer with little or no water. If your garden needs water, limit loss to evaporation by watering early in the morning or later in the evening. Make sure you are not watering your driveway or the street.
  • Inside the home, operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when they are fully loaded, or set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  • Repair leaks in fixtures such as toilets and faucets and avoid letting the water run unnecessarily for other household uses in the kitchen and bathroom. 
The US EPA WaterSense program has some additional ideas:
  • Showers use less water than baths, as long as you keep an eye on how long you've been lathering up!
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  • Wash the car with water from a bucket, or consider using a commercial car wash that recycles water. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's hot, hot, hot!

In the Midwest and throughout many parts of U.S., a dramatic heatwave has descended and doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon. To get you through the long, hot days, we've put together some resources that may be fun and may prove useful:
  • For Fishermen/women that don't mind the heat: Fishing in Wisconsin
    (from the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources) 
  •  For those interested in getting the right SPF: Consumer Guide to Sunscreen
    (from the US Food and Drug Administration)
  • For those that want to buy the most energy efficient air conditioner: Energy Star Program
    (from the US EPA)
  • For those that want to explore the Great Lakes from the comfort of their air-conditioned living room: The Great Lakes Circle Tour
    (from UW Sea Grant)
This list could go on forever. Do you have any suggestions on how to ope with the heat? Send an email to and we'll post an update.

Stay safe out there!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Researching chemicals

One of the fun things the Water Library gets to do is participate in outreach and today was a great treat. The UW Madison offers the PEOPLE program - the Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence and young women enrolled in the program and interested in STEM fields visited Steenbock Library to learn how to use library resources to research a chemical. A recent contamination event of the chemical tetrachloroethylene near Madison presented the young researchers with the opportunity of learn about hazardous chemicals, accidental spills and how researchers find information that credible, accurate, relevant to help make decision on how to proceed. Here are some of the tools the students used:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer time and it's time to read!

The graphic a right is the start of a very fun planning flowchart on how to choose your summer reading list. Click on the image to see its (impressive) full size but be warned! It might take you half the month of July to go through all the steps!

The Water Library also has some other ideas for you to try, including some great water-related titles:
  • Try reading some water-related (and Great Lakes) fiction. Our recommended reading list shows just some of the great finds.

  • Follow #UWSummerReads on Twitter.Librarians from across UW Madison campus will be tweeting some great suggestions.

  • Madison Public Library has a great list of lists for hot summer reading.

  • Do you have children in the house, bored and looking for something to do? The Water Library has recommended reading list for Beach combing, Water exploration, and much more.
Whatever it takes, pick up a book and head to the water!
Happy reading!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Drinking Water Teaching Tools

A collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has produced new instructional materials to assist teachers who seek to enhance the consciousness of their high school students about where their drinking water comes from, and how sources of drinking water can be protected.

Their press release continues, "The curriculum's “hands-on” learning activities, which are related to topics such as water characteristics and contaminants, water regulations, drainage, and reducing the flow of nutrients into groundwater and surface water, will enliven the educational experience for students and teachers."

This FFA curriculum development project, funded by EPA and USDA, included a large team of drinking water experts from EPA and USDA as well an instructional design team that included FFA staff, Elaine Andrews and Kate Reilly, UW Environmental Resource Center, and Dolly Ledin and Sarah Wright, UW Institute for Biology Education.

To learn more about these teaching tools, visit their website.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Climate Change and Water Availability

The U.S. Geological Survey recently released the results of modeling studies that project changes in water availability due to climate change at the local level. Scientists used several models to look at 14 basins across the country, including two in Wisconsin - Black Earth Creek and Trout Lake Basins.

According to the USGS, "Climate change projections indicate a steady increase in temperature progressing through the 21st century, generally resulting in snowpack reductions, changes to the timing of snowmelt, altered streamflows, and reductions in soil moisture, all of which could affect water management, agriculture, recreation, hazard mitigation, and ecosystems across the nation. Despite some widespread similarities in climate change trends, climate change will affect specific water basins in the U.S. differently, based on the particular hydrologic and geologic conditions in that area."

Read more about the studies and see individual fact sheets about each basin here

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More About Hydraulic Fracturing

As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago on AquaLog, the Department of the Interior proposed new safety measures that aim to make the practice of hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") safer. [Read post] National Public Radio (NPR) recently turned a spotlight on the science of the fracking boom and highlighted some of the science issues not frequently discussed:
NPR does a good job of presenting a wide range of issues. Check out the full series here.

image from Penn State Public Broadcasting, from their interactive site Explore Shale

Friday, May 18, 2012

Congratulations Graduates!

As our friends at Steenbock Memorial Library recently posted on their blog, graduates can still access a number of services through the UW Libraries.

Here's how you can access great materials (even if you're not studying for finals!):
In addition, all resources at Wisconsin's Water Library are available to Wisconsin residents! Drop us a note at Ask Water, or pop over to our Wisconsin Residents page to see how we can help you. We wish all graduates the best of luck in the future!

Sarah's last day

Today we say goodbye to our blogger (and so much more) over the last 9 months, Sarah Leeman. Sarah has graduated from the UW Madison, School of Library and Information Studies and is moving on to a job at Argonne National Labs near Chicago. In her honor, here are some of Sarah's great posts:
We wish Sarah the best in her bright future. She will be missed!

photo credit:  Aquatic Sciences Center, John Karl

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fish For the Future

Lately, the UW Sea Grant has been helping to generate a buzz about aquaponics, a method in which vegetables and fish are grown together in one system. The technique is also finding a place in architecture and design. Conceptual Devices has devised an bamboo aquaponics dome, hoping to make this method of food production an attractive, affordable addition to apartment rooftops. According to an article by Good, the system can feed 16 people for a year. While not for sale yet, Conceptual Devices is currently fundraising with the hopes of making mass production a reality soon.
Looking for more information? Check out UW Sea Grant's new aquaponics brochure to learn more, and don't forget to swing by their Flickr page for images of an aquaponics display at this year's Science Expeditions.

Image via Conceptual Devices

Monday, May 14, 2012

Playground design teaches students about water

Sixth graders at one New York middle school are learning about water in a unique way- by designing a new playground for their school. In addition to usual playground equipment, these young designers are also thinking about how they can clean up local waterways. The playground thus includes a butterfly garden and turf field, both designed to capture precipitation.

P.S. 242/Future Leaders Institute Community Playground

The students themselves, each given a design notebook, are highly included in the process and learning about water science in their classes. The project is jointly supported by the Trust For Public Land and the City of New York.

Interested in learning more?
Image via Trust for Public Land

Friday, May 11, 2012

Careers in Water

Deciding on a career or career move? According to a new article in the Chicago Tribune, job seekers might want to "consider diving into the water business," as many in the water and wastewater profession are nearing retirement. 

If you're interested in one of the many water-related professions, check out these resources to learn more:
Finally, check out the jobs portion of our water research guide for professional organizations, internships, career services, and more!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

News From Wisconsin's Water Library

The latest edition of the Wisconsin's Water Library newsletter is now available! Click here to access online, or check it out via the new link on our website.

Highlights include our new books list, information about our story hours and recent events, tips for accessing water resources, and more. Interested in receiving bimonthly alerts about our newsletter? Drop us a line at Ask Water and let us know!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Take your water to go!

You might love Angry Birds and Words with Friends, but have you considered apps designed to help the environment? These iPhone and Android apps can help you learn about water issues no matter where you are.
smartphone era
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch app (iPhone and Android) provides up-to-date information about sustainable seafood choices in different areas of the country. It will also recommend restaurants and markets that offer sustainable seafood. Don't have a smartphone? You can access their web version here. 
  • Do you drink enough water? Drinking Water (Android) lets you track your water drinking habits.
  • What the Fish! (iPhone) is a freshwater fish identification application, filled with images and descriptions. 
  •  Creek Watch (iPhone) uses EPA data to help users monitor their watershed.
Looking for more?
Image via Steefafa (Flickr)

Friday, May 4, 2012

New safety measures for hydraulic fracturing

This week, new regulations were issued aiming to make hydraulic fracturing safer. According to a New York Times article, the law intends to "require disclosure of the chemicals used in the process" However, the new law pushes this disclosure to after drilling is completed, not before, as had originally been the case.

In addition to changing disclosure requirements, the law also addresses issues related to contamination of groundwater, and includes guidelines for well construction and wastewater treatment

Interior secretary Ken Salazar stated “As we continue to offer millions of acres of America’s public lands for oil and gas development, it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place. The proposed rule will modernize our management of well stimulation activities — including hydraulic fracturing — to make sure that fracturing operations conducted on public and Indian lands follow common-sense industry best practices.”

Click here for further information from the Department of the Interior.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Purifying Murky Drinking Water

Safe drinking water is difficult to obtain in many areas of the world. Different kinds of water require different purification techniques. For example, clear water is fairly easily purified using a method called SODIS (pictured below), while murky water, which is all that many individuals in developing countries have access to, remains difficult to treat. However, a scientist at Michigan Technological University has found a way to purify muddy water.

Joshua Pearce discovered that sodium chloride causes flocculation- the process through which clay settles out of water. While adding salt to water might seem counterproductive, according to Pearce, "the water has a lower sodium concentration than Gatorade" and is still safe to drink. Once the water is no longer murky, it can be easily purified using the SODIS treatment, which relies on radiation from the sun. Next, Pearce is running tests on different kinds of clay and soil to see where else this process might be useful.

Click here to read Michigan Tech's press release about the findings, and here to access Pearce's paper, "Optimizing the Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) Method by Decreasing Turbidity with NaCL."

Image via Michigan Tech News