We commonly think of rivers as, for the most part, staying where they belong, in the river bed, occasionally coming out into the floodplain under fairly predictable conditions conducive to high water that we call “floods.” The writing in this issue of Open Rivers belies this notion of predictability, to a large degree.
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I love water. Always have, always will. I delight in skimming across it in my kayak and dropping down into it with mask, fins, and snorkel. I was born in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, and credit my early years amidst the lakes and streams of west-central Minnesota with imbuing me with a fascination of water that has endured my whole life.
Around the world, from the U.K. to India, governments and NGOs are formulating plans and raising funds to restore river and floodplain habitat. Much of this restoration work is undertaken in the interest of minimizing or rolling back the effects of disturbances, such as hurricanes, erosion, and urban development, and shoring up resilience, a river’s natural ability to resist disturbances. However, the words used to explain river systems have come to explain what threatens them, and to explain what river restoration must therefore accomplish. Words shape deeds.
U-Spatial provides support for spatial research. We make maps. And help colleagues at the University of Minnesota discover and analyze geospatial data. We collaborate with people in public health, nursing, business, history, anthropology, education, design, engineering, natural resources, and even dentistry.
Open Rivers contacted Paul Huttner, Chief Meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio. Huttner writes the Updraft blog and hosts MPR’s weekly Climate Cast. We wanted to learn more about the impact climate change is having on rivers and communities and how discussions about environmental issues and water are changing.
Imagine sharing conversation, learning, and ideas with politicians, researchers studying bald eagles and river otters, people who make your water drinkable and those who clean your used water (who are different people, at least for now…), and those thinking about and establishing policies and practices to help protect the Mississippi.