Science on Tap – Minocqua

Science on Tap — Minocqua
Minocqua Brewing Company
Wednesday, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­  April 4th, 2018 | 6:30 p.m.

Salting Our Lakes

Hilary Dugan, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in Integrative Biology. Dugan is a limnologist, studying how terrestrial and atmospheric changes, such as warming air temperatures or land use patterns, alter biogeochemical fluxes and aquatic processes in lakes . Fascinated by earth    sciences and how ecosystems work, she fell in love with fieldwork and studying global change while a research assistant in the Canadian Arctic .

Lakes are integral to Wisconsin, used for recreation, fishing, and drinking water. At the Center for Limnology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Hilary is working to understand the flow paths of water and carbon in lake-catchment systems. Through her research, she hopes to bring more awareness to water quality issues across Wisconsin.

In the 1940s, Americans found a new way to love salt. Not simply for sprinkling on food — we had acquired a taste for the mineral long before that — but for spreading on roads and sidewalks. Salt became a go-to method to de-ice frozen pavement.

During the past half-century, annual U.S. sales of road salt grew from 160,000 tons to about 20 million tons, as pointed out in a study in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of the Sciences. NaCl kept roads free from slippery ice, but it also changed the nature of North America’s freshwater lakes. Of 371 lakes reviewed in the new study, 44 percent showed signs of long-term salinization.

Road salt is often thought of as an ‘environmentally safe’ chemical. However, at high concentrations, chloride can alter aquatic ecosystems by stressing freshwater species, and deteriorate drinking water sources. For 70+ years, we have applied road salt (sodium chloride) to paved surfaces, without any regard for the environmental consequences. This conversation will focus on long-term chloride trends and the state our lakes are in across Wisconsin with regard to chloride contamination, and what is currently being done to curtail further environmental damage.

Science on Tap – Minocqua is also streamed live each month at The Minocqua Public Library & Eagle River Library.

Can’t make it to Minocqua? You can always watch Science on Tap on your computer, tablet or smartphone where it streams Ad-Free. Just click the Watch Science on Tap live button at and be part of the virtual discussion.

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Science on Tap – Minocqua programs are archived on our website. We have short versions of our programs which are 6 to 10 minutes long. Watch one here:

Science on Tap – Minocqua is a partnership among the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Trout Lake Station and Kemp Natural Resources Station, as well as the Wisconsin Alumni Association: Lakeland Badger Chapter and the Minocqua Public Library.

Funding for Science on Tap — Minocqua is provided by:   a grant from the Brittingham Fund to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the UW-Madison Speakers Bureau – Office of University Relations, the College of Letters & Science and the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences.