The U-M Water Center addresses regional and national water resource challenges by engaging faculty and students at U-M. Science teams collaborate with natural resource managers and others to foster the co-production of science.
Microplastics in the Great Lakes
Female scientists from the U.S. and Canada, including two from U-M, set sail on all five Great Lakes to conduct the world’s largest simultaneous sampling of aquatic plastic debris pollution.
The all-female crews of the seven lead research vessels of eXXpedition Great Lakes 2016 collected plastic debris on the five Great Lakes, as well Lake St. Clair-Detroit River and the Saint Lawrence River. The data collected will contribute to growing open-source databases documenting plastic and toxic pollution and their impacts on biodiversity and waterway health.
Research Partners:Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, Adventurers & Scientists for Conservation, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup in Canada and the Alliance for the Great Lakes' Adopt-a-Beach program in the United States
Erbs & Water Center
In 2012, the U-M Water Center is established with a $4.5 million gift from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.
Mercury contamination in western North America
An international research team, including a U-M biologist, concluded mercury contamination is widespread across western North America in the air, soil, lake sediments, plants, fish and wildlife.
The researchers on the Western North America Mercury Synthesis team found that mercury accumulation rates in western lake sediments have increased, on average, by four times from 1850 to 2000 and continue to increase today.
Research Partners:School of Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Viruses in world’s oceans
A U-M biologist was part of the international team that reports they’ve tripled the known types of viruses living in waters around the globe and have a better idea what role they play in nature. Researchers said their work will likely have far-reaching implications, including ultimately helping to preserve the environment through reducing excess carbon humans put into the atmosphere.
The oceans currently soak up half of that carbon, but that comes at the cost of acidifying the oceans, which puts some ocean-dwellers, including shellfish, at risk. Understanding how microbes and viruses interact is critical to any possible management efforts.
Research Partners:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Ohio State University
First geospatial database of Great Lakes
With a grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, an interdisciplinary team led by U-M researchers developed the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Framework, the first publicly-available database that includes harmonized habitat data and a classification of fish habitats across the entire Great Lakes basin.
Research Partners:School of Natural Resources and Environment, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture & Planning, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota-Duluth, The Nature Conservancy - Michigan, The International Joint Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Lake Erie algal bloom
U-M researchers and partners predicted a less severe harmful algal bloom for western Lake Erie in 2016 than 2015’s record-setting event.
Researchers develop annual forecasts alerting resource managers and the public to the severity of the algal blooms.
The main driver of the harmful algal blooms is elevated phosphorus from watersheds draining into Lake Erie’s western basin, particularly from the heavily agricultural Maumee River watershed.
About 85 percent of the phosphorus entering Lake Erie comes from farm fertilizers and manure.