Guest Post: Q & A with “Our Waters, Our Future” Fiction Contest Winner

Note: this post is from our friends over at the “Yahara in situ” blog:

First place winner,
First place winner, Sally Younger (right) and Kitt Healy, who took second place in the “Our Waters, Our Future” contest.

Meet Sally Younger. She won our first ever Our Waters, Our Future writing contest, which sought short, sci-fi stories about positive futures for water and people in south-central Wisconsin.

Younger’s first-place story, “Antigone Lupulus,” will make its debut in Madison Magazine’s June issue, and is already available online. It is about a young woman learning to manage a hops farm in the Yahara Watershed amid the challenges brought by a changed climate.

If you are curious about some of the other stories we received, check back in with us each day this week, as we will be showcasing a few of the finalists.

But, today, get to know Younger, a Madison native and technical writer by trade. We asked her a few questions about her inspiration for the story and what value she found in the exercise of imagining the future of our water.

Tell us a little bit about your connection to water.

SY: As a terrestrial lifeform I don’t get very far without it. As a Madison native, Lake Mendota is my north star. The four lakes orient me, shape my path; time and the seasons are reflected on their faces. Monona, the closest to my home, perhaps takes pride of place. After 25 years together I’ve discovered she never looks the same two mornings in a row. Continue reading “Guest Post: Q & A with “Our Waters, Our Future” Fiction Contest Winner”

Water, Women and Fisheries: CFL Researcher Awarded “Seed Grant” from Global Health Institute

Bordered by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, Lake Victoria is the world’s largest tropical freshwater lake and boasts one of the largest freshwater fisheries in the world. 30 million people live around its shores. It is an important source of food, water, industry and recreation but, over the last couple of decades, water quality has greatly diminished as an aggressive invasive plant and potentially toxic algal blooms spread across its surface.

Water hyacinth and harmful algal blooms as seen from a fisherman's boat on Lake Victoria. Photo: Jess Corman
Water hyacinth (aquatic plant) choke the inlet so that our boat cannot reach the pier where the yellow water taxi is docked. Cyanobacteria (also called harmful algal blooms) in the foreground give the water a pea-soup green appearance. Photo by Jessica Corman.

Water hyacinth (aquatic plant) choke the inlet so that our boat cannot reach the pier where the yellow water taxi is docked. Cyanobacteria (foreground) give the water a pea-soup green appearance. Photo by Jessica Corman.

Jessica Corman, a post doctoral researcher at the UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology recently learned that she was one of four UW-Madison researchers to receive a $50,000 seed grant from the Global Health Institute. Her proposed project, entitled “Water, Women, and Fisheries: Addressing Two Ecological Realities Impacting Human Health at Lake Victoria,” will soon take her to Kenya, to study Lake Victoria and the communities that depend on it. Continue reading “Water, Women and Fisheries: CFL Researcher Awarded “Seed Grant” from Global Health Institute”

CFL at Shedd Aquarium: World Fish Migration Day, May 21st!

Center for Limnology researchers Solomon David and Ellen Hamann outside Chicago's Shedd Aquarium for World Fish Migration Day. Photo courtesy S. David.
Center for Limnology researchers Solomon David and Ellen Hamann outside Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium for World Fish Migration Day. Photo courtesy S. David.

This coming Saturday is World Fish Migration Day and, from 10am to 4pm, visitors who come to Chicago’s famed Shedd Aquarium will get more than just the usual stunning displays of amazing aquatic life – they’ll also get a chance to meet aquatic scientists who are studying how and why fish move.

Visitors can undertake a scavenger hunt of sorts as they fill in their “Migratory Fish Passport.” See migratory species up close and on display. Talk with fisheries researchers about how they monitor fish populations and what they’re learning. And, of course, get a photo of their heads in our amazing “fish face cut-outs.”

Stop by the Shedd on Saturday and get your picutre taken AS our very own Solomon David!
Stop by the Shedd on Saturday and get your picture taken AS our very own Solomon David!

Why are we so concerned about the world’s migratory fish? Well, because a lot of species need to reach upstream habitat for a healthy life cycle. Dams, road culverts and other barriers often stand in their way. With hydropower projects proposed on some of the world’s biggest rivers, these fish species that are both ecologically important and essential sources of protein for many cultures are in danger of being greatly diminished.

World Fish Migration Day and the Center for Limnology’s participation at the Shedd Aquarium is just one way to help spread the word about the importance of reducing fish migration barriers and getting fish back on the run!

Hope to see you Saturday! 10am to 4pm at the Shedd Aquarium!

In the meantime, we’ll leave you with a remarkable video shot by CFL grad student, Andy Stevens, of a white sucker run in a Lake Michigan tributary. Enjoy!

 

Guest Post: Earth’s Current Sea Change a Warning to “Respect the Slow”

by Steve Carpenter

Around the Baltic Sea in Sweden there are dozens of abandoned Viking settlements. The odd thing about these sites is that they lie a few kilometers inland. The Vikings were seafaring people, and the settlements have the remains of large sea-going ships.

Viking Burial Ground. Photo: telefotomedia on Flickr
Viking Burial Ground. Photo: telefotomedia on Flickr

Anders Celsius, a prolific scientist who, among other things, invented the temperature scale that bears his name, was curious about these old Viking settlements. He proposed that sea level was falling. Celsius went to the shore and carved lines and dates on rocks at the waterline. He persuaded other scientists to do the same thing at different locations around Scandinavia during the early 1700s. This turned out to be the first long-term network for scientific observation.

This rock is now high and dry not because sea level was falling in the Baltic, but because the land was rising. Image: BALTEX - The Baltic Sea Experiment
This rock is now high and dry not because sea level was falling in the Baltic, but because the land was rising. Image: BALTEX – The Baltic Sea Experiment

Sure enough, over the years it became obvious that the carved lines were rising above the water, or vice-versa. Even now, 300 years after Celsius worked, you can find his lines on rocks around the Baltic Sea. Now the lines are about six to twelve feet above sea level.

Why were the carved lines separating from the water surface? Celsius thought that sea level was falling. He died before the matter was resolved.

By a few decades after Celsius’ death in 1744, it was obvious that the distance between the sea surface and the carved lines varied from place to place. If the sea was falling, the gap would be the same everywhere. Therefore the sea was not falling. The land must be rising!

By 1865, scientists knew that massive glaciers once covered the northern hemisphere. They reasoned that the melting of the glaciers removed a great weight from the land, allowing the land to rebound. By about 1890 this idea was generally accepted, and it remains so today.

Two centuries after Celsius asked the question, scientists confirmed their understanding of why the Viking ships were so far away from the seashore. The rebound of Earth’s surface from the weight of the glaciers has gone on for 10-15 thousand years and is still happening today at a rate of a few millimeters per year.

Slow changes, like melting glaciers and terrestrial rebound, create legacies. By dictionary definition, a legacy is property or money left to someone in a will. But humans create other kinds of legacies that we leave to our planet. Continue reading “Guest Post: Earth’s Current Sea Change a Warning to “Respect the Slow””

New Zealand Q&A: Jake Vander Zanden Talks Dead Zones, Cows & Haka Dances

Earlier this year, Jake Vander Zanden rented his house out in Madison, packed his things, and headed with his family for a sabbatical in New Zealand.  Under the auspices of a Fulbright scholarship, Jake is at the University of Waikato, studying ‘dead zones’ in lakes, where pollution reduces oxygen making it impossible for parts of lakes to support life.

Raglan, New Zealand.
Raglan, New Zealand.

He is also, apparently, learning to surf! Jake recently checked in with the folks at Fulbright and sent home this Q&A from the small, coastal town of Raglan. Until we see you this fall, Jake, good luck on the surf lessons!

Q: Tell us about your research here in New Zealand

New Zealand is proving balmier than one of Jake's prior (and more northerly) trips!
New Zealand is proving balmier than one of Jake’s prior (and more northerly) trips!

JVZ: I’m looking at the phenomenon of lake ‘dead zones’. Lakes that in the past had a lot of oxygen in the bottom waters can lose that oxygen due to nutrient pollution – often from human activity – then they become an environment that can’t support life. You lose a lot of the value that would come from a lake, such as fisheries, when you have dead zones.

It seems like once you create dead zones they are difficult to turn back. Even if you remove nutrients and improve conditions, the healthy ecosystem never returns. That’s really worrisome because it is so difficult to fix the problem. Another consideration is that when you create a dead zone, the plant nutrient phosphorus is released from the lake sediments, which further contributes to the pollution problem.

I have found that people in New Zealand are very interested in water quality, but mostly in a very general sense. There is a lot of recognition that there are severe water quality challenges. People seem concerned about the large expansion of dairy farming in the last ten to twenty years and what that has meant for water quality, in terms of both ground water and surface waters. It’s interesting to compare the different perspectives about that from the US and New Zealand. The decisions farmers make on the land is often the driver of water quality. Continue reading –>

Our Next ‘Science on Tap’ Could Change Your Life: May 4th

By now you’ve heard all about our amazing science cafe series, Science on Tap-Minocqua, at the Minocqua Brewing Company on the first Wednesday of each month.

UW-Madison microbiologist, Monica Turner answers questions about the "microbes all around us." Photo: A. Hinterthuer
UW-Madison microbiologist, Trina McMahon answers questions about the “microbes all around us.” Photo: A. Hinterthuer

In addition to the big crowds and good beer, the event is a chance to take part in a discussion and ask questions about some awesome, enlightening topics. In just the past few months, we’ve heard about the creation and conservation of our national parks, the wonderful world of Wisconsin fishes and the microbes all around us.

But, next Wednesday, May 4th, we’ll offer something a little different – something that’s not just good for the mind, but the body and soul as well.

Robert McGrath, director of counseling and consultation at University Health Services. ©UW-Madison University Communications Photo by: Bryce Richter
Robert McGrath.
©UW-Madison University Communications
Photo: Bryce Richter

Dr. Robert McGrath, a UW-Madison distinguished psychologist emeritus and former coordinator of UW Mind-Body Wellness Services will give a talk titled “Thriving at any age: guidelines for living a healthy, happy life.”

McGrath will explain an emerging discipline called “positive psychology,” which focuses on how focusing on gratitude and a healthy lifestyle can increase happiness and set us on a path to thrive. Much of the change in one’s happiness is due less to life events, he says, than to “the nature of your primary relationships, your social relationships, your lifestyle and life goals.”

You can join us as we review ten ways to improve your health, happiness and overall well-being. If you’re in or near Minocqua, stop on by the Minocqua Brewing Company for dinner (we can vouch for the wild rice burger!) and then join us for the conversation at 6:30pm. If you’re not in town, you can always watch LIVE online (or at the Minocqua Public Library) and even ask questions from your computer – we promise we’ll pass them along.

And, as always, if you miss the live show, check out our growing video archive – featuring both full-length talks and short 5-10 minute “highlight” videos on the Science on Tap YouTube Channel.

Questions about the event? Call 715-356-9494 or e-mail hinterthuer(at)wisc(dot)edu.

Ice Data from Early “Citizen Scientists” Confirms Warming Since Industrial Revolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: MADISON, WI — In 1442, fifty years before Columbus “sailed the ocean blue,” Shinto priests in Japan began keeping records of the annual freeze dates of a nearby lake. Along a Finnish river, starting in 1693, local merchants recorded the date the ice broke up each spring. These two observations are the oldest inland water ice records in human history and, according to a new report in Nature Scientific Reports, the meticulous recordkeeping of these historical “citizen scientists” reveals increasing trends towards later ice-cover formation and earlier spring breakup since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Woodblock print of Lake Suwa, Japan. Image courtesy: Brooklyn Museum, Online Collection.
Woodblock print of Lake Suwa, Japan. Image courtesy: Brooklyn Museum, Online Collection.

“These data are unique,” says John Magnuson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Limnology. “They were collected by humans viewing and recording the ice event year after year for centuries, well before climate change was even a topic of discussion.” Continue reading “Ice Data from Early “Citizen Scientists” Confirms Warming Since Industrial Revolution”

Field Samples: How Humans Are Changing What’s in Our Water

Field Samples is a Q&A with presenters at our weekly Wednesday seminar. Today CFL grad student, Samantha Oliver, will talk about how humans changes to the landscape have drastically altered nutrient flows into lakes.
Sam Oliver is studying how human land use affects which nutrients end up in our lakes and how they get there. Photo courtesy Sam Oliver
Sam Oliver is studying how human land use affects which nutrients end up in our lakes and how they get there. Photo courtesy Sam Oliver
 Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get here?   

I’m Samantha Oliver, and I’m originally from Hackensack, MN – a small town in the northwoods. I got my undergraduate degree at UW and took Ecology of Fishes when I was a junior. At the time, I was sort of bouncing around the sciences to get a feel for what I liked. My TAs for the class were Jereme Gaeta and Matt Kornis (CFL alums), and they were advertising summer jobs at Trout Lake Station. I spent the summer there studying the spiny water flea, and I was hooked. After I got my master’s degree at the University of Minnesota Duluth, I wanted to come back to the CFL to study lakes. I reached out to Emily Stanley who was looking for someone to work on cross-scale interactions in lakes – and it was a good fit!

Continue reading “Field Samples: How Humans Are Changing What’s in Our Water”

Field Samples: What Do Fish Do When People Move Into the Neighborhood?

Field Samples is a Q&A with presenters at our weekly Wednesday seminar. Today one of the CFL’s newest grad students, Martin Perales, will talk about his summer project exploring the impacts of lake development on fish populations. 
Perales holds a striped bass, which is a n invasive saltwater species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Photo courtesy M. Perales.
Perales holds a striped bass, which is a non-native estuarine species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Photo: M. Young

Who are you, where are you from, and how did you get here?    

I’m Martin Perales and I dragged my wife to Wisconsin to attend the UW-Madison. (Editor’s note: Martin’s wife, Flora, willfully joined the Wisconsin adventure and, we think, is enjoying her time in Madison!)

Before moving here I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of California – Davis, and then worked as a research technician in Peter Moyle’s lab for a few years. We were looking at how hydrodynamics in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta interplayed with water quality and how that affected fish populations and distributions.

The Delta is connected to the ocean and tidally influenced by it, which makes it a really hard system to study, because things like water quality and water-level stage and the availability of habitat are constantly changing. It was a cool place to work, but I came to Wisconsin because I just wanted to see something else. I’d been in California my whole life. Continue reading “Field Samples: What Do Fish Do When People Move Into the Neighborhood?”

Art Hasler’s Son Blogs His Dad’s Biography

We here at the Center for Limnology are, of course big fans of Art Hasler. The man not only got the building we call home built in the first place, he also help bring limnology at UW-Madison into modern scientific times.

Art Hasler (with what appears to be a Model T) trailering a boat at Trout Lake, 1934/
Art Hasler (with what appears to be a Model T) trailering a boat at Trout Lake, 1934/

That’s why it was so cool when Fritz, Art’s son, reached out to us and sent a link to a photo biography of his father – starting with a picture of Art as an Eagle Scout in Provo, Utah and ending 77 years later, when Art passed away.

The biography includes pictures of Art and his French horn in the Wisconsin Symphony, Art feeding a dolphin, and Art in Germany right after the conclusion of World War II. It is a treasure trove of cool historic photos and a chronicle of an accomplished scientist and doting dad. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Art Hasler in the Old Lake Lab at the end of Park Street (where Water Science & Engineering is now). Circa 1940.
Art Hasler in the Old Lake Lab at the end of Park Street (where Water Science & Engineering is now). Circa 1940.

Thanks, Fritz, for sending it along! Continue to the bio and  pictures –>