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July 10, 2017

USU Symposium Highlights Water Research/Issues in Utah

The iUTAH 2017 Symposium, July 13-14, will bring together more than 120 researchers and educators from universities, governmental agencies, industry partners and non-profit organizations to discuss actions and outcomes of water science across the state to the Utah State University Logan campus.


iUTAH, which stands for innovative urban transitions and aridregion hydro-sustainability, crosses the boundaries of natural sciences, social science and  both civil and environmental engineering. The symposium includes 40 talks over seven concurrent sessions on subjects as diverse as water planning, bioretention systems and collaboration in communicating water science. In addition to these presentations, students from this summer’s iFellow undergraduate research experience will present posters of their work.   


The symposium is part of a larger celebration of five years of research, training, education and outreach that has taken place during the iUTAH project.


Press: Utah State Today


The iUTAH 2017 Symposium will bring together over 120 researchers and educators to Logan to discuss actions and outcomes of water science research and education across the state. Credit: Utah State University/Wyatt Traughber.



June 28, 2017

Fighting Wildfires with Wildflowers

Southern Utah University and iUTAH researcher Jackie Grant has been in the news for her award of $68K from the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program to collect seeds from native plants for research. These seeds will also be used to restore plant life after wildfires destroy forests and seeds in the underlying soil.


A media release provided by Southern Utah University’s writer Lexi Carter quoted Grant as saying that “ ‘Native plants are important in Utah because this state is part of a fire-adapted ecosystem, which means that fires happen on a regular basis here,’ said Grant. ‘We need plants to return to the land as soon as possible after a fire to prevent heavy rains from eroding the soil and filling streams with sediment that kills fish. Although we often overlook them, native plants provide the groundwork for what makes this state special.’


The research conducted this summer builds on previous work Grant has done with iUTAH, the state’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant. Benefits extend to more than SUU students because water, outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, and access to the state’s incredible scenery are important to most residents of Utah.


Grant’s collaborations with iUTAH, a statewide research infrastructure improvement grant aimed at water research, education, and outreach, have been recognized with both a Research Catalyst Grant and an Education and Outreach Catalyst grant. A third award for time-release gave Dr. Grant the time to write the proposal for seed collection. "Dr. Grant exemplifies what it means to be an 'engaged scholar,’ said Andy Leidolf, assistant director of iUTAH. “She embodies the objectives of iUTAH's research catalyst grant program and one of our project's core missions: to build capacity at primarily undergraduate institutions.”


‘We are now able to weave science, education and our research through multiple levels of the community while providing experiential learning opportunities to SUU students and recent graduates,’ said Grant. ‘The BLM grant is a fantastic opportunity for the university as it allows us to work with a federal program to provide economic and educational opportunities for the local community of Cedar City.’ ”


Press: SUU University News | The Spectrum


Jackie Grant, a biology professor at Southern Utah University, received BLM funding for
her seed collection and education program. Credit Jackie Grant



June 9, 2017

Digging into the Knowledge Gap of Dust

Janice Brahney, assistant professor of watershed science in the Utah State University. Credit Utah State University/Quinney College of Natural Resources

Utah State University and iUTAH researcher Janice Brahney has been in the news for her contributions to research on impact of dust on freshwater ecosystems.


A media release provided by the Utah State University writer Traci Hillyard said, “Dust may be as old as dirt, but in that dust is valuable information. Atmospheric dust is important because it consists mostly of tiny particles of soil, which contain nutrients, metals, clays and carbonates making dust a significant vector of biologically important compounds. According to current research, dust has a significant impact on the biological productivity in oceans, forests and freshwater lakes, which has the potential to increase carbon storage across these varied landscapes. Dust is what Janice Brahney, assistant professor of watershed science in the Utah State University Quinney College of Natural Resources really digs. Brahney’s research focuses on the impact of that dust on freshwater ecosystems.   


‘The atmospheric transport of material is at present a large unmeasured component of critical biogeochemical cycles, like that of phosphorus,’ says Brahney. ‘These nutrients deposited with dust have significant effects on lake ecosystem function including productivity, species composition and carbon cycling.’ The shores of the Great Salt Lake, along with other playas and desert environments, are the leading contributors of dust in Utah.


‘Atmospheric dust arises from these low-elevation basins and is then deposited in mountain environments that act as natural barriers to transport,’ continues Brahney, who is interested in finding out how dust deposition impacts the nutrient availability and biology of affected lakes and rivers.”


The full study is available here.


Press: Utah State Today



June 5, 2017

Data Management Survey for iUTAH Researchers

The iUTAH EPSCoR project has been approved for a one-year no cost extension, beginning in August 2017. This means that the project office will remain open, at a reduced capacity, to help with the administration, distribution, and communication of research that will be completed in the coming year. One of the areas of emphasis for researchers during the extension is to meet our program requirements for sharing data and research products. To help us know what to expect from you in the coming months, we ask that you respond to a short 3-minute survey.


Your response to the Data Management Survey confirms your commitment to the requirements of this award, and will let us know that you are on track with your data management objectives. For questions or clarification on data management, please see either Data Policies and Collection Plans or Steps for Sharing/Publishing to HydroShare.


Researchers, both faculty and student, we ask that you complete this survey as part of your commitment to iUTAH's program requirements for sharing data and research products. Go to survey.





May 25, 2017

Weather Patterns' Influence on Frost Timing

University of Utah and iUTAH researcher Court Strong

University of Utah and iUTAH researcher Court Strong has been in the news for his contributions to research on weather patterns.


A media release provided by the University of Utah’s science writer Paul Gabrielsen said, “The frost-free season in North America is approximately 10 days longer now than it was a century ago. In a new study, published in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Utah and the U.S. Geological Survey parse the factors contributing to the timing of frost in the United States. Atmospheric circulation patterns, they found, were the dominant influence on frost timing, although the trend of globally warming temperatures played a part as well.


‘The frost-free season has been lengthening over the past century, and now we understand the changes in atmospheric circulation that are extremely strong in frost timing, even stronger than global warming,’ says University of Utah atmospheric sciences professor Court Strong.


Weather and climate are complex systems, with many factors affecting what the particular weather conditions might be in a certain place at a certain time. Previous research, says Gregory McCabe, of the USGS in Denver has focused on the role of large-scale phenomena like El Niño. ‘I don’t think anyone has broken it down to look at the circulations patterns specific to the timing of frost,’ McCabe says.”


Find the full study here


Press: Popular Science EurekaAlert! Science Daily | | Weather Underground | KUER Radio | KUSU Radio | UNews


Image shows the average day of the year with the last spring frost (left) and first fall frost (right). Cooler colors indicate an earlier day of the year. Credit: Court Strong/University of Utah.


What's driving changing frost seasons? Pixabay



May 24, 2017

Partnerships Key to Water Data Management Statewide

Courtney Flint, iUTAH team leader, and a professor of sociology at Utah State University, recently published an op-ed piece in The Salt Lake Tribune. In it, she discusses iUTAH’s collaborations with state agencies, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, and municipalities from Salt Lake, Cache, and Heber Valleys. She starts the piece by pointing out “A recent article and an editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune have cast doubt on the ability of Utah state agencies to accurately measure water use.


Our interactions with state agency staff suggest that they are interested in improving the availability of water use data, but have been limited mostly by state legislative funding allocations and restrictions on their authority to require submission of timely and accurate data. 


As water resource researchers with iUTAH, a federally funded water project led by Utah State University researchers in collaboration with partners around the state, we would be the first to join others in saying that the better we know  how water is distributed and used, the better we can help our state manage its water resources and achieve future water sustainability. Yet it is often municipalities, water districts and irrigation companies that actually make many of the critical water infrastructure development and distribution decisions.”


Read original article


Courtney Flint is an iUTAH team leader, and a professor of sociology at Utah State University Credit: Utah State University