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  • Archaeological predictive model helps Illinoisans balance growth with preservation

    The Illinois State Archaeological Survey offers a GIS-based tool that draws on more than a century of data to predict the probability of encountering an archaeological site in any 2-acre section of Illinois. Land owners, developers, preservationists, and other Illinoisans can use this tool to proactively assess and protect archaeological resources while enabling sustainable development. 

  • Soils are wetter in Illinois from mid-May showers

    Recent rains have caused soil moisture levels to rise in most of Illinois, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey.

  • Cahokia's rise parallels onset of corn agriculture

    Corn cultivation spread from Mesoamerica to what is now the American Southwest by about 4000 B.C., but how and when the crop made it to other parts of North America is still a subject of debate. In a new study, scientists report that corn was not grown in the ancient metropolis of Cahokia until sometime between A.D. 900 and 1000, a relatively late date that corresponds to the start of the city’s rapid expansion.

  • Water Supply Planning team helps Illinois meet water needs

    Due to projected growth of the population and economy, Illinois could require 20 to 50 percent more water in coming decades. Ensuring adequate and reliable supplies of clean water for all requires us to think ahead. We need to know how much water will be available, how much water we will need, what the options are for providing additional supplies, reducing demand, and what the impacts and costs will be.

    Since 2006 the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has tasked the Water Survey with leading regional water supply planning activities for 11 Illinois regions. Learn more about the team that carries out this important activity.

  • Rediscovering a path to the Milky Way

    PRI archaeologists investigate "borrow pits," where the people of Cahokia extracted much of the soil used to build their famous mounds. The scientists are beginning to think these ponds held more meaning for the original city builders than archaeologists once assumed. They also hope to study another overlooked feature of the city of Cahokia: a causeway that cuts through the site.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in McHenry County, Illinois

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

  • April's temperature roller coaster ends colder, wetter than average

    According to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford, April ended colder and wetter than average across the state. The preliminary statewide average April temperature was 49.2 degrees, 3.4 degrees below the 30-year normal and tied for the 27th coldest on record going back to 1895. The preliminary statewide average total April precipitation was 4.36 inches, 0.58 inches above than the 30-year normal and the 43rd wettest on record.

  • State Climatologist reported that April temperatures and precipitation fluctuated in Illinois

    The preliminary statewide average April temperature was 49.2 degrees, 3.4 degrees below the 30-year normal and tied for the 27th coldest on record going back to 1895. The preliminary statewide average total April precipitation was 4.36 inches, 0.58 inches above than the 30-year normal and the 43rd wettest on record.

  • Could Legionnaires' bacteria lurk in idled buildings?

    Many businesses are closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and some building managers have shut off water and air conditioning to conserve resources. Warmth and lack of clean water flow can contribute to the growth of potentially dangerous microbes, including the bacteria that contribute to Legionnaires’ disease. ISTC chemist and industrial water treatment specialist Jeremy Overmann spoke with the News Bureau's Diana Yates about the problem and potential solutions.

  • Geological Survey assists state agencies with COVID-19 data

  • DOE funds ISGS work on carbon storage

  • ISGS scientist collects sample that appears to be oldest fossilized fungus

    The authors argue this shows that fungi were one of the first organisms to survive on the Earth's surface and likely played a key role in supporting the first plant life.

  • Illinois’ soils are cooler and drier in mid-April

    Colder weather entering Illinois has caused soil temperatures to fall, according to Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) program manager at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey.

  • GIS topographic tool is applied statewide

    The Water Survey uses a GIS analysis tool called the Topographic Wetness Index to identify low-lying areas that could be subject to ponding during rain events. The index is particularly important because areas of low terrain with upslope—conditions that contributes to drainage areas—can be spotted outside of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mapped floodplain areas.

  • Ask me anything: WARM team

    Environmental chemist Jennie Atkins manages the Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring (WARM) Program, which monitors and measures Illinois' waters, soils, and climate. WARM works with municipalities, industries, state agencies, and environmental groups to develop monitoring plans to address major watershed issues. 

  • Rethinking short-term droughts in Illinois

    While there is no universally accepted definition of drought, contemporary definitions look at a percentage of precipitation over a protracted period of time, in most cases over the course of a year. Some say this approach leaves people and communities vulnerable to a different type of drought – flash droughts.

  • March was warmer with above average precipitation in Illinois

    March was warmer and wetter than average across the state, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford.

  • Learn to Hunt Program bases hunter recruitment on science

    Today’s hunters are more diverse and more likely to hunt for the meat than for the camaraderie of fellow hunters than in generations past. Understanding these motivations and constraints with scientific data helps staff of the Illinois Natural History Survey’s (INHS) Learn to Hunt Program draw new hunters to the activity.

  • Grad student names new treehopper species after Lady Gaga

    The insect now known as Kaikaia gaga represents a new genus and species of treehopper.

  • Disease-carrying coastal tick established in Illinois

    Researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey and Southern Illinois University have new evidence of the Gulf Coast tick becoming established in Illinois. They also have found that it often harbors a pathogen that can make people sick. 

  • Team spotlight: Climate and Atmospheric Science

    The Water Survey’s Climate and Atmospheric Science team investigates the potential statewide impacts of climate change, including extreme precipitation changes (flooding, drought), availability of atmospheric resources for green energy generation, changes in the urban heat island, and integration of climate models into systems that take into account human population growth, health, and activities.

  • ISWS kicks off 125th anniversary year

    The Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) held the first of five statewide events commemorating 125 Years of Water and Weather on Feb. 4 in Champaign.

  • Warmer, wetter winter leaves crop pest picture unclear

    A warmer, wetter winter has caused higher than normal soil temperatures across the state, which could be helping agriculture pests survive the season.

  • State Climatologist reports that a typical February ends an otherwise atypical winter

    February was slightly warmer and wetter than average across Illinois, according to Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford.

  • World Data Centre for Precipitation Chemistry finds a new home at ISWS

    The Illinois State Water Survey is the new home of the World Data Centre for Precipitation Chemistry, which receives and archives precipitation chemistry data and complementary information from stations across the globe.

  • Team is scaling up biochar system for Fulton County field test

    Illinois Sustainable Technology Center scientist Wei Zheng and colleagues are creating a designer carbon-based biochar that captures phosphorus from tile drain runoff water and recycles it in soils to improve crop growth.

  • Camera-trap study captures Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards, other rare beasts

    Scientists deployed motion-sensitive camera traps across a 50-square-mile swath of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra and, over the course of eight years, recorded the haunts and habits of dozens of species, including the Sumatran tiger and other rare and endangered wildlife. Their observations offer insight into how abundant these species are and show how smaller creatures avoid being eaten by tigers and other carnivores.

  • Water Survey to analyze flood risks in McDonough County

    The Illinois State Water Survey will be conducting hydrologic and hydraulic modeling in McDonough County, Illinois, as part of a study to help local communities identify areas of high flood risk.

  • ISTC scientists visit the UK to collaborate on emerging contaminant research

  • ISTC delivers Contaminants of Emerging Concern Report to Illinois General Assembly

  • Buying a home in Illinois? You'll need PRI for that.

    Nearly 150,000 homes were sold in Illinois last year. For every Illinois home sold, the Prairie Research Institute provides data needed for banks, title companies, insurance companies, and consumers to make informed decisions about home ownership. 

  • Deciphering the culture found in prehistoric plants

    Archaeobotanists at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey study ancient plant remains with the goal of understanding how humans used plants in the past. 

  • State Climatologist says 2020 is off to a warmer, wetter start

    According to State Climatologist Trent Ford, January 2020 was warmer and wetter than average across the state. The preliminary statewide average January temperature was 31.4 degrees, the 17th warmest on record going back to 1895. The preliminary statewide average total January precipitation was 4.41 inches, the 9th wettest on record.

  • ISTC develops greener biofuels process

    Kirtika Kohli and BK Sharma have been busy in the lab creating a greener delignification method for biofuels refinery processes. Many see biofuels as a viable alternative to fossil fuels because they are renewable and can reduce carbon emissions through plant growth. However, biomass needs to be processed before it can be converted to biofuels.

  • Researchers describe crayfish conservation concerns and strategies

    Whether you call them crayfish, crawfish, or crawdad, this creature needs protection nationwide to prevent extinction, according to Chris Taylor, Illinois Natural History Survey curator at the University of Illinois. In a recent article published in the journal Hydrobiologia, Taylor and colleagues have outlined possible strategies for conservation practices to protect crayfish from invasive species, habitat changes, and potential overexploitation.

  • Reading history in the soil

    Postdoctoral researcher Rebecca Barzilai describes mapping and collecting soil samples from the floor of a religious shrine in Greater Cahokia, an ancient Native American settlement on the Mississippi River in and around present-day St. Louis.

  • Institutional Water Treatment program now tests for bacterium causing Legionnaires’ disease

    ISTC's Institutional Water Treatment (IWT) program now offers testing of water sources for Legionella, the bacterium that causes Legionnaires’ disease. 

  • Groundwater hydrologist is honored for contributions to the water operating profession

    Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) groundwater hydrologist Steve Wilson has received an Association of Boards of Certification’s award for advancing the water and wastewater operating profession. The Kenneth D. Kerri Excellence in Workforce Development Award was presented to Wilson for going beyond the call of duty as an educator.

  • Water Survey analyzes home water supplies

    When Illinoisans with private wells have questions about their home water supply, the Water Survey’s Public Service Lab can provide answers. Our lab can analyze water from any Illinois well, checking for parameters including calcium, magnesium, iron, arsenic, manganese, sodium, hardness, total dissolved solids, alkalinity, color, turbidity, fluoride, chloride, nitrate, and sulfate. 

  • Water Survey commemorates 125th anniversary

    A series of free half-day seminars will be offered across the state this year to commemorate the Illinois State Water Survey’s 125th anniversary. Seminars will highlight critical water, weather, and climate issues of Illinois. 

  • Microplastics may increase the risk of PFAS entering the Lake Michigan food web

    ISTC researcher John Scott led a team of researchers to understand the extent to which PFAS and other contaminants attach to microplastics in waterways.

  • Warm, dry December concludes a cold, wet year

    December temperatures were well above the long-term average across the state, breaking dozens of local daily maximum and minimum temperature records. The preliminary statewide December average temperature was 35.2 degrees, about 5 degrees above the 1981-2010 normal and the 18th warmest on record. 

  • Jo Daviess County collaboration tackles water quality

    With its unique geology marked by sinkholes, crevices, and caves, Jo Daviess County is highly susceptible to water contamination. Scientists from the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) and Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) are using their expertise and collaborating with a local organization to help citizens understand water quality issues and protect their water supplies.

  • Cold November brings an end to meteorological autumn

    November temperatures were well below the long-term average across the state, breaking hundreds of local daily records. The preliminary statewide November average temperature was 35.6 degrees, about 7 degrees below our 30-year normal and tied for the ninth coldest on record.

  • INHS staffer makes massive contribution to species name index

    In a project to build an index containing the names of all biological species found on earth, Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) informatician Dmitry Mozzherin and the HathiTrust team scanned one-tenth of all published human knowledge on occurrences of scientific names in less than a day.

  • Owls eat roadkill, research finds

    Owls have never been known as scavengers that eat decaying flesh, but the behavior is more widespread than once believed, according to University of Illinois researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) who photographed owls scavenging in the night.

  • Project features home assessments for flood risks

    Scientists studying and mapping flood hazards have long identified whole neighborhoods that are vulnerable to flooding, but with new data, researchers at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) can specify flood risk for individual homes and businesses.

  • "It was a bad day for Peoria County about 450 million years ago."

  • Safer sanitation in food and beverage manufacturing and processing

  • INHS joins effort to digitize North American parasite collections

    The Illinois Natural History Survey (INHS) joins Purdue University and 25 other institutions to lead an effort to modernize the world’s knowledge of arthropod parasites by digitizing more than 1.3 million specimens using a three-year, $4.3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.