updates direct from the field

Expedition 3: Water & Ice

Water & Ice

The Changing Earth team did a deep dive into all things water and ice in two regions of the United States known for their abundance of water: Minnesota and Alaska. We interviewed scientists, community activists, and cultural historians tackling water issues that have worldwide impact....

Learning through Real-World Inquiry

The eleventh graders at the School of Environmental Studies have been taking a close look at water this fall, starting with the ponds and rivers in their backyard. We tagged along with them on several field outings as they completed inquiry projects related to the...

Measuring Glacier Behavior

Many different types of technologies are being used to study glaciers in Alaska. GPS receivers help measure glacier motion, seismometers track water flow, meteorological stations record climate, and timelapse cameras and satellites capture all kinds of visual data....

Alaska’s Rainforest

The Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska harbors part of Earth’s largest remaining temperate rainforest, the Pacific coastal temperate rainforest, which stretches 2,500 miles from northern California up to Kodiak Island in south-central Alaska....

Crossing the Icefield

The Juneau Icefield Research Program offers high school and college students a unique real-world learning experience. Students spend the summer crossing the icefield by ski, all while learning firsthand from scientists about the life of the icefield and the research being done there....

Wild Alaska

Alaska has over 57 million acres of designated wilderness, including some of the largest swaths of intact natural landscapes found anywhere in the country. It has an estimated 100,000 glaciers, more than 100 volcanoes, and millions of acres of pristine forestland, including the largest national...

Using Geospatial Analysis to Assess Water Health

The Remote Sensing and Geospatial Analysis Lab at the University of Minnesota is using satellite imagery and GIS to monitor and assess the health of Minnesota’s natural environment across time, including its waterways. The water data they are tracking include water clarity (turbidity), color dissolved...

Mining Impacts on Freshwater

Iron ore mining has played a central role in the economy of the Iron Range of Minnesota for more than a hundred years, beginning in the second half of the 1800s. It has long been a controversial issue in the state....

The Great Lakes

The Great Lakes hold almost 20 percent of the world’s freshwater supply, and comprise the largest extent of freshwater on Earth. Put another way, one out of every five drops of liquid freshwater on our planet can be found in the Great Lakes. ...

The Blue Heron: A Research Vessel for the Great Lakes

The Blue Heron is a research vessel operated by the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth. Research vessels are highly advanced mobile research stations, providing stable platforms from which explorers can deploy equipment, divers, and submersibles. In addition, these vessels carry state-of- the-art electronics, computers, and...

Protecting Our Water

The MPCA has a big job at hand when it comes to protecting the state’s water. Minnesota has almost 12,000 lakes and 70,000 miles of rivers and streams – giving it overall more shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined. ...

The Dangers of Chlorides (Salt) in Our Water

Nationwide increases in chlorides (salt) in freshwater is a cause for concern, and researchers have been trying to identify the reasons for these increases, along with ways we might reverse the trend. Road salt has been identified as one source, and researchers are also looking...

The Changing Landscape of Rivers

Many riverbanks in southern Minnesota have been severely eroding in recent decades due to events such as intensifying and unpredictable rainfall, and the impact of some farming and building practices on drainage of the land. The widespread erosion of soil and vegetation into the river...