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NASA Grant Supports Study of Great Lakes Basin

Dave Hyndman, professor and chair of the Departmment of Earth and Environmental Sciences (foreground), and Anthony Kendall, a research associate in Hyndman's Hydrogeology Lab, get ready to download data from a monitoring site in Whiskey Harbor, a bay connected to Lake Huron located near Port Hope, Mich., in Huron County. Photo courtesy MSU Hydrogeology Lab.

The impact of global change and land-use legacies on fresh water systems in the Great Lakes is the focus of a three-year, $1.5 million National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant. Michigan State University hydrogeologist David Hyndman is a co-investigator on the grant.

The project seeks to analyze the effects of human activities on ecosystems using remote sensing technology. Specifically, the group will examine how water flow and nutrients influence the changing landscape of plant species, which, in turn, alter the ecology of the region.

“For example, corn used to be widely spaced,” said Hyndman, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) in the MSU College of Natural Science. “Now, corn is commonly irrigated and densely planted in fields.”

Hyndman explained that the highly concentrated land use with extensive nutrient application alters ecosystems, namely what becomes of native species and how are invasive species introduced to the region.

Sherry Martin, a research associate in Hyndman's Hydroecology Lab on her way to sample a monitoring site in Whiskey Harbor.

Sherry Martin, a research associate in Hyndman’s Hydrogeology Lab, walks through a tunnel of Phragmites on her way to sample a monitoring site in Whiskey Harbor. Photo courtesy MSU Hydrogeology Lab.

The project is a collaborative effort among researchers who previously worked together on a NASA grant that concluded last year.

“It takes several years to establish a strong working team,” Hyndman said. “To be able to continue with the same group from MSU, the University of Michigan and the Michigan Tech Research Institute gives us a major advantage.”

“Over-fertilization is a major problem, and climate change has substantial effects on stream flow and fluxes of nutrients,” Hyndman said. “The goal is to create integrated systems models that will help researchers provide a sound basis for policy choices. Science-based policies can make for a much better environment.”

Bruno Basso, an MSU Foundation Professor of crop modeling and land-use sustainability in EES, joins Hyndman and his team. Other collaborators include MSU’s Anthony Kendall and Sherry Martin; Laura Bourgeau-Chavez and Nancy H.F. French, Michigan Tech Research Institute; William Currie and Deborah Goldberg, University of Michigan; Kenneth Elgersma, University of Northern Iowa; and Jason Martina, Texas A&M.

  • via the College of Natural Science website

PHOTO (top): Dave Hyndman, professor and chair of the Departmment of Earth and Environmental Sciences (foreground), and Anthony Kendall, a research associate in Hyndman’s Hydrogeology Lab, get ready to download data from a monitoring site in Whiskey Harbor, a bay connected to Lake Huron located near Port Hope, Mich., in Huron County. Photo courtesy MSU Hydrogeology Lab.

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