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  • Soil temperatures are warming in mid-April

    Soil temperatures are rising throughout Illinois in mid-April, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey. Soil temperatures in Illinois were near normal the first half of the month with an average of 50° at depths of 4 inches under bare soil, 1° above the long-term average.   

  • 2019 Celebration of Excellence

    The Prairie Research Institute recently honored employees for their outstanding achievements and presented the Friend of PRI Award to longtime advisory board member P. Kay Whitlock. 

  • March 2019: A cold start with a stormy, wet finish to the month

    March 2019 will be a month remembered for an unseasonably cold start, followed by an active and wet weather pattern which resulted in a continuation of excess soil moisture, and major flooding events on many local streams and rivers.

  • Project maps out building footprints in Illinois to study natural disasters

    Researchers at the University of Illinois are keeping an eye on areas of Illinois that are at high risk for flooding, not only county by county, but also building by building.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in Peoria County

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) announced today that new hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of select streams in Peoria County is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify high flood-risk areas for flood mitigation planning.

  • Bitter cold in January likely won’t reduce field crop pests in the spring

    Despite the record cold air temperatures, soil temperatures averaged slightly warmer than normal this winter. Consequently, the Arctic conditions are expected to have little effect on overwintering field crop insect pest populations.

  • INHS welcomes Jim Lamer as director of the Illinois River Biological Station

    Jim Lamer joined the Illinois Natural History Survey as a large river ecologist and director of the Illinois River Biological Station in Havana. 

  • Become a citizen scientist for pollinators with University of Illinois

    University of Illinois Extension is calling all lovers of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that keep our crops and gardens growing to join scientists in tracking their distribution and habitat use across the state, from the comfort of your home, school, or community garden.

  • National Science Foundation awards more than $480,000 to amber preservation project

    The National Science Foundation has awarded more than $480,000 to a Prairie Research Institute project to preserve and digitize an extensive collection of Dominican amber that is in danger of deterioration without proper curation and care. The plants, arthropods, and vertebrates captured in the amber provide insights into life 16-18 million years ago, during the Early Miocene epoch.

  • Stormy, wet, and chilly February for Illinois

    February was particularly cold and stormy in Illinois, with an almost constant succession of storms resulting in moderate snow accumulations for the northern counties and persistent rain events and widespread flooding for the far southern counties.

  • Initial results show Mt. Simon Sandstone in Macon County is suited to carbon storage

    Preliminary results from a stratigraphic characterization well drilled in December 2018 by the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and collaborators near Mt. Auburn, Illinois, indicate that the Mt. Simon Sandstone at this location has excellent reservoir characteristics for storage of CO2. The T. R. McMillen #2 well is part of the CarbonSAFE Illinois–Macon County project, which is intended to establish the feasibility of storage of 50 million tonnes or more of CO2.

  • Water Survey reports on water demand in Middle Illinois, Kankakee, and Rock River regions

    The Water Survey has published reports on water demand in three water supply planning regions in Illinois: the Middle Illinois (ISWS Contract Report 2018-0), Kankakee (ISWS Contract Report 2019-01), and Rock River (ISWS Contract Report 2019-02) regions.

  • Survey seeks ideas to help specialty crop growers make pest control decisions

    Researchers at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute are developing new pest degree day tools for the state’s specialty crop growers. A short online survey offers growers the opportunity to contribute their opinions on how this information is delivered.

  • Pauketat to lead Illinois State Archaeological Survey

    Timothy R. Pauketat, a University of Illinois professor of Anthropology, is the new director of the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS). Pauketat has been a visiting research scientist at ISAS since 2016.

  • A warm start to January, followed by snow and record-breaking cold

    January 2019 will be a month remembered by an unseasonably warm start, followed by a torrent of winter storms, and ending with a monumental Arctic air outbreak that shattered many record-cold temperatures across the state.

  • Previous records slashed with monumental cold conditions in Illinois

    Illinois has been experiencing some of the coldest weather that has been seen in decades and, in some locations, ever.

  • Illinois Climate Network marks 30 years of monitoring Illinois weather and soil

    It’s been 30 years since the Illinois State Water Survey launched the Illinois Climate Network (ICN) to monitor the state’s weather and soils. The 19 ICN stations around the state collect data on wind speed and direction, air temperature, humidity, precipitation, barometric pressure, solar radiation, soil temperatures and soil moisture. Water Survey staff also calculate data on dew point, degree days, potential evapotranspiration, and temperature inversion. All of this information—an annual total of 2 million records—is used by farmers, researchers, and businesses for decision making and planning.

  • Microplastic contamination found in common source of groundwater

    A new study by PRI scientists is the first to report microplastics in fractured limestone aquifers – a groundwater source that accounts for 25 percent of the global drinking water supply.

  • Conservation efforts help some rare birds more than others, study finds

  • Mahomet Aquifer Protection Task Force issues recommendations

    A task force formed by the Illinois General Assembly to identify gaps in protection of the Mahomet Aquifer has issued its final recommendations. Illinois State Water Survey hydrologist George Roadcap served as a member of the task force, and other Prairie Research Institute scientists provided data and expertise to support the group’s yearlong effort.

  • Annual precipitation records were broken across the Midwest

    More than 120 stations across the Midwest had their wettest year on record in 2018, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center (MRCC) at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). 

  • December in Illinois: Tornadoes, warm temperatures, and little snow

    With warmer than average temperatures, December 2018 brought slight snowfall and a historic late-season severe weather outbreak to Illinois.

  • Camera trap study reveals the hidden lives of island carnivores

  • Brian Kerschner steps up to serve as spokesperson for weather and climate issues

    With the retirement of Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, Brian Kerschner is stepping up to temporarily serve as the Illinois State Water Survey’s point person on weather and climate issues while a search is conducted for the new full-time Illinois State Climatologist.

  • Meet new ISWS hydrologist Tyler Pierson

    The Water Survey has a new face in the Groundwater Science Section – Tyler Pierson, who will be working on an ongoing dewatering project in East St. Louis funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

  • Saving our natural heritage, one stopper at a time

    The INHS Insect Collection holds more than 350,000 vials with more than 3 million insect and arthropod specimens inside. About 70 percent of these are in vials with stoppers that are – or could soon be – melting. A National Science Foundation grant supports our efforts to replace these stoppers and protect these specimens.

  • November was cold and snowy in Illinois

    The statewide average temperature for November in Illinois was 35.3 degrees, which is 7.2 degrees below normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois. November 2018 was ranked the eighth coldest November on record.

  • Angel talks climate, career with Illinois News Bureau

    News Bureau physical sciences editor Lois Yoksoulian spoke with State Climatologist Jim Angel about his career, climate change and the recently released National Climate Assessment.

  • Finding darters where no one thought to look

    INHS staff spent the last two summers sampling small, overlooked streams throughout much of the greater Chicago region and discovered that the Iowa darter has been hiding out in streams so small that biologists haven’t bothered to sample them. It appears that there are enough healthy populations in these small streams that this fish is in the process of being taken off the state threatened-species list.

  • North American checklist identifies the fungus among us

    A new checklist of North American fungi published this month in the journal Mycologia “provides the basis for understanding our national mycoflora,” according to mycologist Andrew Miller, who led the effort to compile the data.

  • State Climatologist Jim Angel authors Midwest chapter of 2018 National Climate Assessment

    If nothing is done about climate change by 2050, Midwest farmers could see their productivity decrease to a level not seen since the 1980s, according to a new report from 13 federal agencies.

  • Effort clarifies major branch of insect tree of life

    A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences collected a vast amount of molecular data on the Hemiptera order of insects and used the information to help tease out their family relationships and evolutionary history.

  • Soil Temperatures Continue to Decline in November

    Soil temperatures have fallen significantly throughout the state in November, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel to retire in December

    Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist, has announced that he will retire in December 2018 after 34 years at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS). In his current position, Angel has served as the primary source of science-based weather and climate information and services for the state of Illinois since 1997.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks along the Little Wabash River

    The Illinois State Water Survey announced today that new hydrologic and hydraulic modeling of the Little Wabash River is underway as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk along the Little Wabash River and its tributaries for flood mitigation planning.

  • ISGS, ISWS install new wells for national groundwater monitoring

    Scientists and staff from the Illinois State Geological Survey and the Illinois State Water Survey  ollaborated with county and local governments in Kane County to install groundwater-monitoring wells in northeast Illinois as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Ground Water Monitoring Network

  • Illinoisans experienced bone-chilling weather changes in October

    The Illinois weather in October 2018 dished up a mixed bag of conditions with temperatures in the 90s, the first fall frost, the first snow of the season, and widespread heavy rains, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Girl Scouts provided habitat for Illinois bats

    When it came to earning their Silver Award, which encourages scouts to complete a project that helps their community, Girl Scout Troop 51978 from Westmont, Illinois, decided to support bat conservation with help from Illinois Natural History Survey associate mammalogist Tara Hohoff.

  • Soils cool across Illinois

    Cooler weather has caused soil temperatures to decrease across the state, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • Report describes water resources available in Middle Illinois River region

    A report on the water resources available in the Middle Illinois River water supply planning region is now available (ISWS Contract Report 2018-02). The results of the study are generally positive for the region, with abundant water available for most needs.

  • Researchers photograph bats under bridges with a borescope

  • September in Illinois had above-normal temperatures and rainfall

    The Illinois statewide average temperature for September was 70.0 degrees, 3.8 degrees above normal and the 12th warmest September on record, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois. 

  • Drying, warming soils across Illinois

    Soils are drying out after the early September rain, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • Illinois was warmer and wetter than normal in August and in the summer

    The statewide average temperature for Illinois in August was 74.9 degrees, 1.3 degrees above normal. The statewide average rainfall was 5.25 inches, 1.66 inches above normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois. 

  • Researchers rescued stranded mussels on the Vermilion River

  • It's mussel time!

  • Soils were drying in mid-August

    Drier weather this month has caused declining soil moisture, especially in central Illinois, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey, University of Illinois.

  • For now, Illinois’ imperiled eastern massasauga rattlesnakes retain their genetic diversity

    Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and the loss of genetic diversity are the three main factors driving the extinction of many wild species, and the few eastern massasauga rattlesnakes remaining in Illinois have certainly suffered two of the three. A long-term study of these snakes reveals, however, that – despite their alarming decline in numbers – they have retained a surprising amount of genetic diversity.

  • July was slightly cooler and drier than normal in Illinois

    The statewide average temperature in July was 75.1 degrees, just 0.3 degrees below normal, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey at the University of Illinois. 

  • ISAS Story Map re-envisions Greater Cahokia

    Archaeologists and researchers from the University of Illinois have spent over a century studying Cahokia, North America’s first native city. For the first time, this wealth of knowledge about Cahokia has being used to create a Story Map entitled, Re-Envisioning Greater Cahokia. Staff from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), a division of the Prairie Research Institute, are responsible for turning the data, maps, text, and rarely seen images into the one-of-a-kind Story Map.