University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) stream ecologist David Herbst, a research scientist with Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL), is committed to exploring the little worlds inside stream riffles and pools, one overturned stone at a time. Living in these small, dynamic systems are the benthic invertebrates that offer up clear signals about water quality and stream health.
Recent research from Dr. Herbst and his team elucidates the connections between the communities of benthic invertebrates that live in stream riffles and pools . . .
Escherichia coli (E. coli) in stormwater runoff is a perennial problem in South Dakota—and in many other places in the US and around the world. Especially in places where drought makes every drop of rainfall count, it’s crucial to remove harmful bacteria such as E. coli from stormwater. Researchers from the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering may have a promising—and cost-efficient—new solution to this problem: steel chips.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) and the toxins they produce, threaten drinking water safety worldwide, and here in the US, we are becoming more aware of the issue as HABs are reported across the country. Microcystins, the most common toxins arising from HABs, can put animals and humans at risk. Human reactions to microcystins include mild skin rash, respiratory illness, kidney or liver damage and even death. If you use a water-filter pitcher to ensure harmful microcystins aren’t present in your drinking water, recent research has both good news and bad news for you...
Imagine fleets of compact, self-propelling robots quietly making their way through the world’s oceans, surveilling marine life and monitoring conditions, each one moving without a power supply or even an engine. It may sound like science fiction, but thanks to a team of researchers from ETH Zurich and Caltech led by Professor Kristina Shea, this new concept for self-propelling, swimming robots that exploit in-water temperature fluctuations to move, has now undergone a successful proof-of-concept study.
The presence of metals and metalloids in marine ecosystems is an environmental concern worldwide. Elevated concentrations of metals like cadmium, chromium, mercury, and nickel can harm marine animals, not to mention the humans who eat them. This means that developing water quality criteria (WQC) or environmental safety limits for a range of metals and metalloids is critical to public and environmental health. This need to know the maximum safe levels of these elements is also typically a precursor to creating protective regulations.
In any given drop of seawater, there may be any number of the ocean’s most numerous and important citizens: those microbes that make up the base of all food webs. These microbes are plentiful far beneath the water’s surface, in the pitch black of sub-seafloor vents. Forming thriving microbial communities, scientists have long wondered how productive these microbes could possibly be while living under massive amounts of pressure at extreme temperatures.
It’s the same old problem that everyone, from scientists and engineers to everyday people, has been facing: contamination of water, especially when extreme weather and floods sweep bacteria into wells and lakes that serve as sources of drinking water. However, some researchers are taking very new approaches toward solving the problem. In this case, University of Utah geoscientist William Johnson is exploring how contaminants, including viruses and bacteria, move through groundwater. . .
2017 was a strange year for Lake Tahoe, especially for participants in the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program (EIP). That’s because the worst drought in hundreds of years was then interrupted by record-breaking precipitation, all leading up to warm lake temperatures and the lowest average clarity levels for the year ever recorded at Lake Tahoe. However, the bigger picture is more complex and looks fairly bright—and hopefully clear—for Lake Tahoe.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s (AGFC) research team is taking their work deeper—underwater in fact. Biologist Jeff Quinn told EM about their recent tests of the Deep Trekker, an underwater drone equipped with a video monitor, which will be helping the team observe and work in hard to reach spots. “We have only tested the unit three times, so it is still new to us,” explains Quinn. . . .
The Chicago River is in many ways a quintessential urban American waterway. In parts of the city, it materializes between slabs of concrete and asphalt. It doesn’t wind its way between banks as a natural river might; the Chicago River takes the course given to it by humans, splitting streets and bridges. A feat of engineering; the river once flowed into Lake Michigan, until humans decided to reverse that course and force the river to empty into the Mississippi River Basin. . . .
Ocean acidification is a hot topic in scientific circles; even for researchers, it is a deceptively complex issue. Recent work from a team of researchers, students, and alumni from the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa reveals that human activities in the form of nutrient pollution can accelerate the harmful effects ocean acidification has on coral reefs.
Nature’s industrious architect, the beaver, may help remove excess nutrients from rivers and prevent agricultural soil from losing those valuable nutrients in the first place, according to recent research. A team from the University of Exeter demonstrated the significant impact beavers have on water quality using a captive beaver trial run housing a single family of beavers.
In many ways, the Charles River is a typical urban waterway. It connects various cities in Massachusetts and bears the brunt of the pollution and strain that flourishing human settlements always seem to bring with them. Also like some other urban rivers, the Charles was once written off by authorities as too dirty to save or clean. Thanks to the long-term efforts of advocates inside and outside the government, however, the Charles has made a remarkable comeback.
A conflict has been unfolding in Pennsylvania recently—one that has implications for the many people living near the more than 1.3 million miles of unpaved road across the country. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), unpaved roads made up about 35 percent of the over 4 million miles of American roads in 2012. Those roads and the dust they inject into the air are a serious problem, so dust suppression techniques across the country vary based on what’s available, affordable, and effective.
A team of marine wildlife experts and government scientists in Western Australia (WA) have developed a new real-time tracking tool for whale rescue. “The buoys utilize a GPS to provide positional data, which is transmitted using an Iridium satellite modem,” explains Dr. Jason How, a Research Scientist on Invertebrates with the Sustainability and Biosecurity section of the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in Western Australia.