Red, White, and Blue-Green Algae: Harmful Algal Blooms Block Summer Plans, and Could Become More Common Without Action

Recent harmful algal blooms in the Northeast US have thwarted holiday plans for many lake-goers, and climate change might make such blooms more common. If we could have tighter control on the nutrients flowing into the lake, we may have a chance at preventing blooms in the future.

Read more

Preserving Culturally-Important Xochimilco Wetlands Requires Policy and Personal Change

Created by the Aztecs in 500 CE for agriculture, Xochimilco is an area of culturally important wetlands in southern Mexico City. Despite its cultural and economic importance, this area is experiencing wetland degradation and loss due to urban development and water quality issues. Even with a high level of local concern about wetland degradation, little effort will be made toward conservation without a change in public policies regarding local infrastructure and development.

Read more

Are your car’s windshield wipers helping your town’s stormwater management?

You decide to go out and run some errands on your day off, even though there is a chance of rain in the forecast. You are just starting your 30-minute walk back to your house and get caught in a torrential downpour. You are now forced to call a ride-share because you know the stream next to the path on your way back will likely flood and you would have to take the long way home. Once in the car, you are happy you do not have to walk in the rain. Little do you know, the car you are in may actually help improve rainfall maps and with that urban stormwater management. How? The car’s windshield wipers are turned on!

Read more

How Pre-Industrial Charcoal Changed the Soils Under Our Feet

Tragically, when some people look at the soil beneath our feet, they only see ‘dirt’. They are missing the fact that soils contribute so much to nature and our lives. But, what happens when humans alter soils from their natural state? Researchers from Cottbus, Germany, aimed to find out how charcoal production in the Northeastern US during the mid 1800s impacted the soils and ecology of the forests that we see today. Surprisingly, the answer is a little bit below the surface.

Read more

Why coastal flood maps are wrong: the tale of compound hazards

Coastal flooding is expected to increase in frequency due to future sea level rise and more extreme weather, but most coastal flood hazards maps do not portray the increase risk. We dive deeper into how these maps are made and uncover why the current flood hazard maps may be misleading.

Read more

Is there enough dirt in the Mississippi River to save the delta?

I know what you’re thinking: dirt flowing down a river doesn’t sound too exciting. But what if I told you this dirt could be the difference between building and losing physical land on our coastlines? Information like how much sediment is flowing down the river, what kind it is, and where it might end up is important in deciding how people will manage coastlines in a delta. For some places, like the Mississippi River Delta, sediment can be the difference between saving and losing precious natural resources, and even people’s homes.

Read more

Throwback Thursday: How did streams and rivers flow before humans started changing things?

Throwbacks aren’t just for old songs and embarrassing childhood photos. Knowing how rivers and streams flowed before people started changing things can help us to create water management practices that are better for the ecological health of these systems. However, the first challenge of throwing it back to these natural flows is just figuring out what these natural flows are.

Read more

Snow: More Than Just the Backdrop for your Favorite Winter Olympic Sport

Even if you don’t live anywhere near mountains, it is very possible that the water that comes out of your tap originated as snow in the mountains. Many places rely on melting snow from the mountains to supply water downstream for cities, agriculture, and ecosystems. However, melting is not the only thing that can happen to mountain snowpack and scientists are trying to figure out where else it goes and how that could change in the future.

Read more