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  • Temperature swings were typical for March in Illinois

    As is typical for March weather, Illinois temperatures varied from day to day, with an average statewide temperature 1.5 degrees above normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. March average precipitation was 1.32 inches above normal.

  • Study finds ethical and illicit sources of poison frogs in the U.S. pet trade

    With their vibrant colors and small size, poison frogs are popular among amphibian pet owners in the U.S. Most poison frogs come from legitimate frog breeding operations here and abroad, but some are still snatched from the wild illegally in their native countries, according to Devin Edmonds, doctoral student at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS).

  • PRI scientists provide winter soil conditions and an insect pest forecast for Illinois

    Near-average winter soil and air temperatures are an indication that crop insect pests may have survived the cold in Illinois, according to scientists Jennie Atkins and Kelly Estes at the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois.

  • Microplastics on the move: research projects detect microplastics in water and on land

    At the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), researcher John Scott is studying microplastics in landfills, rural streams, and city drinking water to further understand where they are coming from and how they move in the environment.

  • Piotr Szocinski crouches in the back of a truck to load soil samples

    Digging into soil data helps inform green infrastructure design

    PRI geologists were part of a multidisciplinary research project aimed at helping Illinois communities add green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) to their strategies to prevent local flooding. Pilot projects focused on Calumet City and Midlothian. 

  • four people stand at the Illinois Basin Decatur Project injection well

    Data from landmark Illinois Basin carbon storage project are now available

    The first-of-its-kind Illinois Basin – Decatur Project (IBDP), which concluded in 2021 after successfully demonstrating the safe geologic storage of carbon dioxide, is releasing data sets in two easily accessible locations.

  • An active February finishes climatological winter

    The preliminary statewide average February temperature was 27.2 degrees, 3.0 degrees below the 1991–2020 average and tied for 42nd coldest on record going back to 1895. The preliminary statewide average total February precipitation was 3.41 inches, 1.48 inches above the 1991–2020 average and the 9th wettest on record statewide.  

  • National Science Foundation funds project to improve weather forecasts for cities

    Scientists at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) have begun a new project that will ultimately improve weather forecasting of severe storms and heatwaves in cities across the US.

  • Aerial view of fully installed submerged rubble ridges

    Underwater innovation at Illinois Beach State Park to help mitigate coastal erosion

    This past summer, with funding from the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a US Army Corps of Engineers crane carefully placed over 10,000 tons of stone five hundred feet offshore of Illinois Beach State Park (ISBP) and Hosah Park, a Zion Park District property wedged between the north and south units of IBSP. These stones form three “rubble ridges” that are intended to work in concert to lessen storm waves and protect the eroding beach and unique terrestrial ecosystem in the dunes while preserving views and enhancing fish habitat.

  • Divert and convert: Campus project takes plastic from waste stream for fuel production

    A new Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) pilot project is gearing up to remove 200 pounds of non-recyclable plastics from campus trash daily and convert it to 140 pounds of crude oil to power university vehicles. The project will demonstrate its benefits to the environment and campus and present unique learning opportunities for students.

     

  • John Scott wears a white lab coat and stands in front of chemical analysis equipment

    PRI chemist John Scott answers PFAS questions

    Following action by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois is investigating the occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in community water supplies across the state, with an eye toward developing policies to reduce their use. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to increased risk of certain cancers and potential developmental problems in children. John Scott, a senior chemist with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, offers perspective on this issue. 

  • ILMINES screenshot

    ISGS data inform siting decisions for energy companies in Illinois

    Green energy companies seeking sites for windfarm and solar power plant development in Illinois are targeting industrially zoned settings, such as land around active and abandoned coal mines and oil fields. When considering siting decisions, companies can rely on the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) to provide extensive databases and maps on the state’s geologic and mine information to save potential trouble with collapsed land.

  • glass of water against a teal background

    Protecting the environment and public health through hazardous waste research and education

    PRI applies the state's Hazardous Waste Research Fund (HWRF) to studies that benefit public health and support pollution prevention and the preservation of natural resource preservation. One current project is assessing the health risk of Legionella in private wells, while another is evaluating the amount of microplastics in landfill leachate.

  • Holly Tuten, vector ecologist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS).

    Improving the health of Illinoisans through mosquito and tick surveillance and research

    PRI's medical entomology team’s state-of-the-art research and surveillance activities help Illinois reduce the risks associated with mosquitoes and mosquito-borne pathogens, improve the effectiveness and sustainability of mosquito-borne pathogen control approaches, and develop and maintain robust emergency outbreak preparedness capacity.

  • 2022 begins with a dry and cold January

    The preliminary statewide average January temperature was 21.1 degrees, 5.6 degrees below the 1991–2020 average. The preliminary statewide average total January precipitation was 1.17 inches, 1.14 inches below normal.

  • a hand clad in a purple latex glove holds a small snake against a grassy backdrop

    PRI offers applied science internships for summer 2022

    PRI is offering hands-on summer internships that will enable undergraduate students from populations underrepresented in graduate study at Illinois to explore careers in applied science. There are opportunities in atmospheric science and climate; biology, ecology, and environmental science; geology; sustainable energy; and water supply and safety. To see all of the internship options and to apply, visit https://go.illinois.edu/PRI-interns

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in Boone, DeKalb, Ogle, and Winnebago counties

    Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in Boone, DeKalb, Ogle and Winnebago Counties, Illinois is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk for flood mitigation planning.

  • Rendleman Orchards worker loads boxes onto a truck for delivery to a food bank (photo credit: Zach Samaras)

    TAP project helps Rendleman Orchard get surplus fruit to food banks

    Through a grant from USDA, ISTC and Feeding Illinois partnered with Rendleman Orchards during the 2021 growing season to ensure no fruit went to waste. 

  • Scientists study ways to reduce PPCPs transferred from soils to food plants

    The debate continues: how much risk to human health is the transfer of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) through soils to food plants when biosolids, sewage effluents, and animal wastes are applied to fields? As scientists speculate and study the factors that affect risk, researchers at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) are finding innovative solutions to remove PPCPs before they contaminate the vegetables and fruits we consume.

  • Scientist-community interaction is a boon for water supply planning

    When it comes to water supply planning, stakeholders want to know when their community will be at risk for water shortages. Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) scientists involved in community groundwater modeling are touting the value of engaging those stakeholders to reduce uncertainty and help them understand how the models work.

  • December 2021 was exceptionally warm

    Provisional data show December was among the top 5 warmest on record in Illinois, with no snow on Christmas.

  • Water committee in the Kimu village in the Zomba district of Malawi

    ISGS retiree develops water resources partnership in Malawi

    Tim Larson, a retired geoscientist from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS), brought his four decades of experience in locating groundwater in Illinois to connect people in four African villages to fresh water.

  • Petroleum Experts renews software grant to ISGS

    Petroleum Experts has renewed through December 2022 a grant of a set of software packages to the Illinois State Geological Survey and Department of Geology to use in research and education. This software enhances the ISGS capabilities in subsurface interpretation. The yearly value of this grant is more than $2.5 million.

  • State Climatologist provides context on December tornadoes

    Severe thunderstorms developed in the late afternoon, evening, and night of Dec. 10, resulting in strong tornadoes in Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Storm Prediction Center listed 85 tornadoes nationwide from the Dec. 10 outbreak, including 12 in Illinois. Also, six deaths were reported in the state.

  • Kevin OBrien, Stephanie Brownstein, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, Susan Martinis, and Jeff Stein stand outside Abbott Power Plant

    U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm tours PRI carbon management projects

    On Dec. 9, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm toured several U of I sustainable energy projects, including PRI’s carbon capture efforts at Abbott Power Plant. During the visit she also heard about PRI's extensive work in carbon sequestration.

  • Algae cultivation plant

    New project uses flue gas and wastewater to make algae

    A three-year, $2.5 million Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) engineering-scale project will be one of the first and largest to combine carbon dioxide (CO2) from a coal-fired power plant with nutrients from wastewater treatment plants to cultivate algae for animal feeds. 

  • crate of nectarines being washed

    Illinois Farm to Food Bank Project connects specialty growers with food banks

    This fall, the Illinois Farm to Food Bank program wrapped up its pilot project with Rendleman and Flamm Orchards in Union County. Nearly 375,000 pounds of peaches and nectarines were distributed to food banks throughout Illinois.

  • Temperature changes were common throughout November in Illinois

    The preliminary statewide average November temperature was 40.7 degrees, 1.0 degree below the 1991–2020 average and 53rd coldest on record going back to 1895. The preliminary statewide average total November precipitation was 1.00 inch, 2.31 inches below the 1991–2020 average and the 9th driest on record.  

  • Drone in the sky

    New project is multistate, on-farm study of futuristic corn rootworm management

    As the toxins from Bt corn become less and less effective at managing western and northern corn rootworms, what’s next? It will take a combination of innovative techniques to provide sustainable control, according to University of Illinois researchers, who are gearing up for a project involving next year’s crops.

  • October in Illinois had warm temperatures and plenty of rain

    October 2021 in Illinois was the eighth warmest and the fourth wettest October on record going back to 1895, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

  • stream flanked by tree with orange and brown leaves

    U.S. Department of Energy announces investment to further develop carbon capture technology via FEED study

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE-NETL) selected the University of Illinois for $4 million in funding, in addition to cost share contributions by LafargeHolcim and Air Liquide, for research and development to support a front-end engineering design (FEED) study of a carbon capture retrofit at an industrial facility in Missouri. 

  • Western corn rootworm behavior in soybeans offers clues to understanding rotation resistance

    Illinois farmers’ concerns about increasing western corn rootworm populations and plant damage in rotated cornfields have University of Illinois researchers taking a closer look at how rootworm diets affect the beetles’ flights from soybeans to cornfields.

  • ISWS researcher contributes to award-winning Chicago Regional Climate Action Planning Partnership

    Illinois State Water Survey climate researcher Ashish Sharma contributed his expertise on climate change and its impacts on urban communities and associated solutions to the recently released Climate Action Plan for the Chicago Region. Last week the collaborative group behind the plan, which includes non-profits, universities, Argonne National Laboratory and municipalities, received a 2021 Climate Leadership Award from the Climate Registry and Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

  • two men stand beneath a direct air capture installation in Iceland

    ISTC-led team to design large-scale system for direct air capture and storage of carbon dioxide in the U.S.

    The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center in a nearly $2.5 million project to develop preliminary designs and determine feasibility for the first commercial-scale direct air capture and storage system for carbon dioxide removal in the United States.

  • prairie fire

    Study reconstructs 232-year history of prairie fire in Midwestern U.S.

    Researchers combed through thousands of historical documents for first-person accounts of fires occurring between 1673 and 1905 in the Midwestern tallgrass prairie. Their study is the first systematic analysis of the timing, causes and consequences of prairie fires in this part of the world. They report their findings in Natural Areas Journal.

  • Illinois soils are warmer and wetter in mid-October

    A wet October has caused soil moisture to rise across the state.

  • ISTC program looks ahead to renewable energy waste issues

    As renewable energy is poised to replace fossil fuels long term in Illinois, the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is delving into a looming issue: what to do with solar modules, wind turbines, and electric vehicle batteries that are no longer used. Keeping these products out of landfills is the primary goal.

  • Chris Taylor and Eric Larson standing in a stream

    Team discovers invasive-native crayfish hybrids in Missouri

    In a study of crayfish in the Current River in southeastern Missouri, researchers discovered that the virile crayfish, Faxonius virilis, was interbreeding with a native crayfish, potentially altering the native’s genetics, life history and ecology. Reported in the journal Aquatic Invasions, the study highlights the difficulty of detecting some of the consequences of biological invasions, the researchers say.

  • Soils are still too warm for safe and effective fall fertilizer application

    Favorable weather has helped push Illinois’ fall harvest progress well ahead of normal. As a result, producers may be considering early application of fall fertilizer following harvest. University of Illinois experts caution that fall nitrogen fertilizer application on soils warmer than 50 degrees can result in loss of effectiveness and potential environmental issues. 

  • Tagging a turkey with a GPS monitor

    Prescribed fires affect wild turkey habitat selection

    Prescribed fires used to improve the health of forests influence where wild turkeys choose to nest and roam, according to recent research at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS). It turns out that turkeys prefer a variety of forest conditions, from non-burned plots to forests burned each year.

  • A warm, dry September extended summer in Illinois

    The statewide average temperature of 69.4 degrees in September was 2.6 degrees above average, but the humidity was lower than in the previous months. 

  • irrigation system watering young plants in a field

    Time for Illinoisans to report irrigation water use

    The deadline is approaching for Illinoisans to report their 2021 irrigation water use to the Illinois Water Inventory Program. The deadline for individual reporting is Jan. 1, 2022, while aggregate reports are due by March 1, 2022.

  • Researchers study radium in aquifers of north-central Illinois

    Walt Kelly, Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) groundwater geochemist, answered questions about the findings of his recent study on radium levels in groundwater of the St. Peter Sandstone aquifer, with a study area in north-central Illinois. Radium levels are above the drinking water standard in many community water supply wells open to the aquifer.

  • Mid-September soils across Illinois were warmer and drier than normal

    Soils remained warm in mid-September because of hotter than normal weather across Illinois. 

  • Farmers show interest in Farm to Food Bank Program

    The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), Feeding Illinois, and other organizations are partnering to explore new, viable ways to connect farmers directly with food banks to increase the state’s food supply for the food insecure and reduce waste.

  • PRI projects and data boost agricultural producers’ productivity

    With some of the best farmland in the country, Illinois has a competitive advantage over other states in the agriculture sector. The Prairie Research Institute (PRI) at the University of Illinois is leveraging this advantage, investing in Illinois’ agriculture economy by offering programs, tools, and research projects to support producers and address current farming issues.

  • TapTalk icon

    Water Survey team launches podcast for drinking water professionals

    The team behind WaterOperator.org and Private Well Class is launching a new podcast to strengthen connections between the many stakeholders involved in ensuring that every American has water that is safe to drink. The first two episodes of Tap Talk: The Drinking Water in Rural America Podcast are available now! 

  • Hot and stormy end to summer

    August temperatures were largely above normal across Illinois. Because of the heat and humidity, August precipitation was accompanied by frequent severe weather events including several tornadoes, hail, and strong winds.

  • Water Survey simulation of Aug. 12 Gibson City flood

    Water Survey simulation matches progress of Gibson City flood

    A model simulation produced by the Illinois State Water Survey shows the progression of the flood in Gibson City from the morning to the evening of Aug. 12, 2021

  • A stonefly in the Kathroperlidae family

    INHS entomologists identify new family of stoneflies

    Entomologists at the Illinois Natural History Survey have discovered a new family of stoneflies, a finding that helps scientists studying the insects organize information and distinguish the species that need protecting.