Category: Great Lakes

Pondering a university’s ecological impact

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

It’s a cool spring morning as I stare at the patchwork of colorful leaves and blossoms on the trees outside my home office. The thought of another Earth Day has me pondering all the research conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that has direct ecological implications. My colleagues and I have written about hundreds of these studies, and hundreds more are published every year.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region lauches initiative to combat plastic waste

Read the full story at Recycling Today.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), based in Cleveland, has announced the creation of Circular Great Lakes, a regional initiative focused initially on keeping valuable plastic materials out of the waste stream and the environment by forging a future without waste in this vital, binational economic region.

The People’s Scientist: Dr. Esther Ngumbi Makes Science Accessible

Read the full story at Diverse Education.

Dr. Esther Ngumbi began her life’s work as a child alongside a river in rural Kenya.

At just seven years old, Ngumbi wanted a hand at farming, so her parents gave her a small strip of land near the river that she could plant cabbage on. Though her parents were both passionate educators, their incomes from teaching alone could not sustain her immediate and extended family, so her parents supplemented their earnings through farming. 

Ngumbi would tend to her cabbages each day and often help her parents farm, watching as the crops sprouted from the soil, hopeful and green. But then, “halfway through the season, insects would come and go through our crops, and sometimes what insects hadn’t taken away, drought would,” says Ngumbi, now an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I would watch this as a kid. A lot of our hard work — waking up in the morning and going to the farm — would be eaten by insects.” 

The agricultural problems facing her family were not unique but were endemic to other farmers in her community, and she realized this early on. Even from a young age, Ngumbi wanted to know what the insects were and how farmers could control them. She wanted a career that could help her community grow plentiful food amid challenging circumstances and a changing climate. 

Water Survey helps Cook County manage stormwater

Read the full story from the Prairie Research Institute.

Experts from the Illinois State Water Survey have been working since 2015 with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD), supporting MWRD in making informed watershed management decisions for its vast service area that includes 128 suburban communities in Cook County. 

The first two phases of this long-term project have had a major impact on development throughout the region and helped define one of the most visible aspects of stormwater management: detention requirements. 

Explore More Illinois

Explore More Illinois is a free service provided by your library that provides instant online access to free and discounted tickets to museums, science centers, sporting events, zoos, park districts, theatres, and other fun and local cultural venues.

Simply log in with your library card credentials to browse for passes by date or attractions.

New Research Exposes Weird Tsunamis Caused by Gravity Waves

Read the full story at Gizmodo. See also the Prairie Research Institute Coastal Management Program fact sheet on the phenomenon.

On April 13, 2018, a huge swell of water broke on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It was a tsunami, one far from any fault line typically associated with the ginormous waves. This was a meteotsunami, a wall of water forged from the air conditions above it.

On that Friday the 13th, the lakefront was still chilly and thus not heavily populated, so the tsunami caused no injuries and only minor property damage. But its occurrence gave scientists with NOAA’s Great Lake Environmental Research Laboratory a unique opportunity to study the phenomenon and better understand how to predict these waves. Their research is published in the journal Natural Hazards.

IDOT spends more than $6 million to pick up litter

Read the full story from WCIA.

The Illinois Department of Transportation spent more than $6 million of taxpayer money to pick up litter last year.

This is an easy problem to solve. Pick up your trash and throw it in a garbage can. And enjoy these PSAs that are (unfortunately) still relevant.

Clean SOIL: New initiative aims to fight litter across Southern Illinois with college students’ help

Read the full story in the Southern Illinoisan.

Les Winkeler and Glenn Poshard are tired of seeing trash along the roads and in the natural areas of Southern Illinois.

“Try driving one mile (in Southern Illinois) without seeing trash. You can’t do it,” Winkeler said at news conference Tuesday at Veterans Airport in Marion.

Winkeler, outdoors writer and retired sports editor for The Southern Illinoisan, and Poshard, former congressman and ex-president of the SIU system, joined forces Tuesday to announce the start of a new initiative to clean up Southern Illinois and keep it clean.

The initiative is called Clean SOIL. 

Lead in Private Wells

View the full story map.

To prevent public health crises that result from widespread lead contamination in drinking water, community water supplies are required to closely monitor their drinking water quality. 

Lead (Pb) exposure is associated with many health effects, like neurodevelopmental impairment, distractibility, impulsivity, shortened attention span, and reduced IQ. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that no level of Pb exposure is safe, so Pb exposure in children should be prevented. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s lead and copper rule sets an action level of 15 micrograms per liter (μg/L), or parts per billion, for lead at customer taps for public water supplies. (If more than 10% of customer taps sampled exceed this value, additional actions to control corrosion must be undertaken.)

However, the state of Illinois does not regulate domestic wells for water quality. Studies in several other states suggested that water-borne lead might be a concern in homes with domestic wells, so researchers at the Illinois State Water, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northern Illinois University, designed a study to learn if this was also true in Illinois.

IDNR: CICADA website launches as new resource for habitat protection

Read the full story from WCIA.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) on Tuesday announced it’s launching a new website: Conservation Inclusive Construction and Development Archive (CICADA).

A press release says it’s an online resource that engages the public and private sectors in habitat protection, restoration, and biodiversity conservation through voluntary actions.

IDNR says it serves as a one-stop-shop for residential and private landowners, plus commercial and industrial sectors. There, they can find online guidance and ideas to make their properties or development projects more wildlife-friendly.

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