Project Websites

You are here

Canada Lynx in the Great Lakes Region

Website screenshot of Canada Lynx in the Great Lakes Region

We are studying Canada lynx to understand their distribution, abundance, persistence, and habitat use in and near the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Since 2003 we have placed radiocollars on 33 lynx, obtained over 15,000 lynx locations, located dens, and documented movements and habitat use.

Climate Change Adaptation Planning for the Great Lakes National Parks

Screenshot of Climate Change Adaptation Planning for Great Lakes National Parks website

All of the National Park Service (NPS) units in the western Great Lakes Region will be affected by a changing climate. These forested parks, near the current prairie-forest border, could be transformed to open savanna in the next century.

Addressing the potential impacts of climate change on lands in the National Park System is considered one of the highest priorities in the NPS. Identifying trajectories that plant and animal species might take with climate change and how changes will affect natural resources, management, and visitor experience in the National Park Units in the Western Great Lakes Region is the focus of this project.

Coastal GIS

Screen shot of the Coastal GIS website.

Coastal GIS is an effort to assemble spatial data and develop decision support tools for the aquatic and terrestrial resources within Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal zone. These data and tools will be delivered to end users via the Internet, CD-ROMs and institutional outreach efforts.

Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring

Screenshot of Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring website

This project is sampling Great Lakes coastal wetland biota, habitat, and water quality to provide information on coastal wetland condition using fish, birds, calling amphibians, wetland vegetation, aquatic macroinvertebrates, and water quality.

Great Lakes Worm Watch

Screenshot of Great Lakes Worm Watch website

Great Lakes Worm Watch is committed to increasing scientific literacy and public understanding of the role of exotic species in ecosystems change.

We provide the tools and resources for citizens to actively contribute to the development of a database documenting the distributions of exotic earthworms and their impacts across the region as well as training and resources for educators to help build understanding of the methods and results of scientific research about exotic earthworms and forest ecosystems ecology.

Lake Access

Screenshot of Lake Access website

Lake Access is an initiative begun in 1999 to deliver real-time water quality information on Minneapolis metropolitan lakes to the public using advanced sensor technology and the Internet. Beginning in 2001 the project was expanded to include a study of the effects of lawn fertilizer phosphorus on the phosphorus budget of nearby Medicine Lake that suffers from eutrophication due to excessive phosphorus inputs.

Lake Superior-Duluth Streams

Screenshot of Duluth - Lake Superior Streams website

Duluth, Minnesota lies at the western end of Lake Superior, the source and headwaters of the entire Laurentian Great Lakes ecosystem. Although perhaps better known for extremely cold winters, residents and visitors know it to be a city of forested hills, wetlands and trout streams. With 42 named streams, Duluth has one of the highest densities of stream corridors of any of the over 150 EMPACT- metro areas.

Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas

Screen shot of Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas website

The Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas (MNBBA) documents the distribution of every species that currently breeds in Minnesota and provides a solid foundation for future conservation efforts.

Minnesota Lake Superior Beach Monitoring Program

Screenshot of Minnesota Lake Superior Beach Monitoring Program website

The goal of the program is to assure a safe and healthy aquatic recreational environment by informing the water-going public about risk of contracting water-borne diseases from exposure to contaminated waters. The program collects samples from 38 Lake Superior beaches and analyzes those samples for water-borne diseases and human health risks.

Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Communities

Screenshot of Minnesota's Lake Superior Coastal Communities website

This web site is a window to a large number of information sources and data sets relevant to the coastal communities of Minnesota’s Lake Superior North Shore. Resources include real-time information on weather, traffic and beach conditions, as well as map information on recreational opportunities, population and land cover.

Moose in Minnesota

Screenshot of Moose in Minnesota website

Investigating moose populations in Northern Minnesota. Concern about moose is high because of the importance of moose to Minnesota. People also remember what happened to moose in northwestern Minnesota: In less than 20 years moose in northwestern Minnesota declined from over 4,000 to fewer than 100.

NRRI's Mining & Water Innovation Imitative Project Updates


In 2016, the Minnesota Legislature provided $2.6 million to the University of Minnesota’s Natural Resources Research Institute to fund five pilot projects intended to demonstrate promising technologies that will enhance the performance of the state’s minerals industry.

Each project will reach identified goals or be completed in mid-2018. See details below.

1. Enhanced Value Iron Process Simulator

Description: Design, build, install and commission specialized process simulation laboratory in collaboration with industry and University peers. This investment will allow NRRI and industry partners to fully evaluate both commercial and experimental processes to develop higher value iron products such as direct reduced iron (DRI).

• Create jobs and maximize value to Minnesota
• Demonstrate high value iron product capability
• Reduce risk to encourage industry investment

Future Steps: We will continue to engage our industry partners in Spring 2018 to further define collaborative projects in this unique lab.

2. Online Natural Resources Atlas

Description: Design and create a publicly available, online tool and database to streamline easy access to natural resources data. This multi-layered, interactive platform overlays data on mineral potential, ecology, economy, infrastructure, geology, biology, water resources, and more. Two case studies on ilmenite mining and wetland restoration are being developed to demonstrate potential applications of this tool.

• Improve access to high quality data in map format
• Provide basic computerized mapping capability to users
• Improve transparency in decision-making

Future Steps: Continued funding will be needed for ongoing maintenance and to expand scope and content to the whole state. A focus group will convene in early summer for testing and refinement before public release.

3. Microbial iron release for sulfate removal

Description: Microbes are prevalent in all natural systems. Some convert sulfate to sulfide, while other microbes release iron from iron-bearing minerals which can
remove sulfides. NRRI’s long-range, innovative research is to incorporate microbial processes that will deliver a cost effective and simple way to permanently address
sulfate pollution levels in regional waters.

• Build on knowledge of natural and added sulfate in water systems.
• Develop practical, inexpensive processes to remove sulfur.
• Protect Minnesota’s water resources with advanced microbial-based systems.

Future Steps: We will continue laboratory bench and pilot-scale systems
progress to overcome slow bacterial growth. Ultimately, we hope to develop a simple
framework that uses mining waste for sulfate removal.

4. Technology to maximize Minnesota's iron yield

Description: Taconite operations recover magnetite iron minerals using magnetic separation, but it does not recover additional iron oxide minerals present in Minnesota resources. Hematite and goethite (less magnetic iron resources) are placed in waste piles. NRRI has developed a new flotation process that can recover all three ores at natural pH levels, in contrast to the industry proven high-pH selective process.

• Recover additional iron minerals from ores that are available for mining.
• Expand types of minable ores to increase total iron resource in Minnesota.
• Reduce amount of mining waste.

Future Steps: NRRI will focus the testing on iron resources from the western Mesabi Iron Formation which is high in oxide minerals and especially applicable for this
process. Continued pilot testing will allow for comparison to current mining operations.

5. Technology to reduce sulfate levels

Description: Promising lab results are leading to small pilot-scale demonstrations this summer to help meet the sulfate standards set for Northeastern Minnesota water bodies. The process uses chemicals to transform soluble sulfate into a dense solid to settle in the water system which can then be filtered out. The goal is an inexpensive, efficient and easily managed sulfate removal system as an additional and complementary approach to reverse osmosis.

NRRI is testing private sector technologies as an innovative solution to sulfate concerns around the state. If successful, municipalities, industries and agricultural communities that need to meet sulfate standards will have another remediation tool.

Future Steps: Water from a northern Minnesota city will be used for first phase pilot-scale testing this summer. A variety of filtering technologies will be tested.
Markets for the by-product will be evaluated.

Park Point Beach Weather and Beach Conditions

Screenshot of Park Point Beach Weather and Beach Conditions website

Real time data for the Lake Superior Beaches of Park Point.  Our mission is to provide accurate and timely information to the public about the conditions on Park Point Beach, a Lake Superior sandbar within the City of Duluth, Minn.

Restorable Wetland Prioritization Tool

Screenshot of Restorable Wetland Prioritization Tool website

Minnesota wetlands provide a wealth of ecological benefits including water quality and habitat enhancement.  Yet, it is estimated that Minnesota has lost over 52 percent of its pre-settlement wetland area and their associated benefits. This tool will aid individuals interested in wetland restoration or protection.

St. Louis River Estuary: the Stories and the Science

Screenshot of St Louis River Estuary: the Stories and the Science website

Explore the Stories of the Estuary through the eyes of people that live and work here, and delve into the Science of the interplay between humans and ecosystems. Challenge yourself with real-world Geoquests or see how Deep Maps capture the beauty and complexity of this special place.

Water on the Web

Screenshot of Water on the Web website

Water on the Web (WOW) helps college and high school students understand and solve real-world environmental problems using advanced technology.

WOW is a complete package containing two sets of curricula, data from many lakes and rivers nationwide, extensive online primers, data interpretation and Geographic Information System Tools, and additional supporting materials.