Trent Ford named new Illinois State Climatologist

Hydroclimatologist Dr. Trent Ford, currently an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has been selected as the next Illinois State Climatologist, the authoritative source of weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois. Ford will assume this role—based at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS), part of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois—on Aug. 15.

“Reliable, accessible information about weather and climate is essential to Illinoisans, so I’m delighted that we’ve found someone with Dr. Ford’s impressive knowledge and energy to step into the role,” said PRI executive director Mark Ryan.  

Ford has been an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Resources at SIUC since 2015. In addition to teaching courses on weather, climate, and society and hazardous weather, he has received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to research heat wave predictability and to develop ways to use soil moisture data to improve drought monitoring.

 “Dr. Ford is well prepared to continue and expand the mix of outreach and communication and applied climate research that the State Climatologist Office is known for,” said Illinois State Water Survey director Kevin C OBrien.

A native of Roanoke, Illinois, Ford earned a bachelor’s in geography from Illinois State University before completing his master’s and PhD at Texas A&M University.

“I am excited to apply my knowledge and experience to best serve Illinoisans. Our Midwest climate is dynamic, as we can see from events just this spring and summer, and folks depend on accurate, timely information on and interpretation of the weather and climate. I’m excited to be a part of that, to serve this state and its citizens,” said Dr. Ford.

The role of Illinois State Climatologist was established by state statute to provide weather and climate data, maps, and information for Illinois farmers, government agencies and policymakers, and all citizens. Previous Illinois State Climatologists were Jim Angel (1996–2018), Wayne Wendland (1981–1996), and Stan Changnon (1972–1980).

For more information, visit the State Climatologist website at or contact the State Climatologist’s office at

Summer Music Festivals Set Sights on Waste Diversion

Read the full story at Waste360.

Several festivals across the country have committed to making waste diversion part of their events.

Minneapolis City Council Votes To Ban New Drive-Thru Facilities

Read the full story from WCCO.

The Minneapolis City Council voted Thursday to ban new drive-thru facilities within city limits…

In May, Planning commission president Sam Rockwell said the move would reduce carbon emissions made by idling cars, and increase pedestrian safety.

Farm fresh: using new packaging technologies to prevent food loss in agriculture

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

“Small farmers typically have used little or no packaging, which can contribute to high food loss and waste due to water loss and physical damage during the post-harvest handling period,” says Lisa Kitinoja, director of The Post-Harvest Institute. She tells Food Tank, “They have tried to save money by using baskets, sacks, or wooden crates to transport foods from the farm to the market, all of which can damage crops and provide little protection from rain or pests.”…

Food Tank spoke with Kitinoja about the potential for small-scale farmers to use new packaging technologies.

Nearly 50 Water Infrastructure Projects in Rural Communities Nab Investment from USDA

Read the full story in Environmental Leader.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $135 million in 49 projects to improve rural water infrastructure across the US, announced Chad Rupe, Rural Utilities Service Administrator. USDA is making the investments through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Rural cities and towns, water districts and other eligible entities can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Method to automatically estimate rooftop solar potential

Read the full story from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

The progress of rooftop solar installations is often slowed by a shortage of trained professionals who must use expensive tools to conduct labor-intensive structure assessments one by one, say scientists. Now researchers are proposing a new, data-driven approach that uses machine learning techniques and widely available satellite images to identify roofs that have the most potential to produce cost-effective solar power.

ISTC kicks off Fall 2019 Sustainability Seminars in September

ISTC’s Fall 2019 Sustainability Seminar series kicks off in September with two talks.

This seminar has been cancelled. On Thursday, September 5, JS Rhodes, Director of Growth at Solar Sun’s Recycling, will share talking points on solar module markets and end-of-life issues. Then there will be opportunities for a two-way discussion on these topics. Follow Rhodes on Facebook with #solarprideworldwide.

On Thursday, September 19, Andrew Turner,Associate Professor in Geochemistry, Pollution and the Environment at the University of Plymouth, UK, will discuss the origin and recycling of hazardous chemicals in plastic consumer products.

All seminars are held in the Steven J. Warner Conference Room at ISTC (One Hazelwood Dr. in Champaign, find directions on our web site). Metered and bike parking are available and the CUMTD’s Yellow bus line stops one block away.

The seminars will also be simulcast as webinars for those unable to attend in person. Register for the webinars here:

View archives of previous sustainability seminars on their web site.

Interior took notes from FBI while developing controversial FOIA policy

Read the full story from The Hill.

The Interior Department took notes from the FBI, which handles reams of classified material and is known as a slower responder to public records requests, while developing its controversial policy for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, according to emails reviewed by The Hill.

The Energy 202: Here are the places in the U.S. most strained for water

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The United States has enough water to quench its farms and cities — especially compared to other countries wrestling with more drastic impacts of a warming global climate. 

But water supplies here look more stressed the closer you look at certain parts of the country.

The Post’s Bonnie Berkowitz and Adrian Blanco report on the World Resources Institute’s country-by-country analysis of annual limits on water supplies. The United States overall ranked 71st of 189 countries on a scale of “water stress,” a measure of how close a place comes to running out of water entirely in a typical year. That means “we are pulling out just under 20 percent of our available water,” they note. 

This nontoxic lawn care startup wants to take on Roundup

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Sunday uses fewer toxic ingredients to take care of your lawn and even kills weeds.