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USU Scientist's Efforts Highlighted in AGU's 'Earth Day' Collection

Thursday, Apr. 20, 2017

USU river scientist Patrick Belmont

USU river scientist Patrick Belmont is one of 27 scholars whose research is highlighted in a special Earth Day, March for Science collection published April 20 by the American Geophysical Union.

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For Earth Day and the March for Science on April 22, the American Geophysical Union publishes a special collection of 27 essays highlighting the importance of science. USU river scientist Patrick Belmont was among the scholars selected to write an article.

Utah State University scientist Patrick Belmont is among researchers invited by the American Geophysical Union to submit a ‘success story’ illustrating the power of science in providing solutions for a special 2017 Earth Day/March for Science essay collection.

Published April 20, the AGU states the 27-essay compilation illustrates “the growing importance of data and the increasing globalization of the scientific enterprise. Together, they highlight how Earth and space science research can help grow our economy and enable our society to thrive.”

Belmont’s article, co-authored with colleague Efi Foufoula-Georgiou of the University of California, Irvine, focuses on solutions that address water quality challenges in the American Midwest. Accepted for publication in the AGU journal Water Resources Research, the article is open access and available online.

“Our article presents a perspective, gained from a decade of research and stakeholder involvement in the Minnesota River Basin, where research findings have influenced solutions and policy directions not obvious at the outset,” says Belmont, associate professor in USU’s Department of Watershed Sciences and the USU Ecology Center, who is currently on sabbatical at the National University of Ireland, Galway. “Part of our efforts have been to reduce the complexity of existing scientific models to make it easier for farmers, managers and other stakeholders to reduce sediment pollution.”

Belmont is part of a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution team awarded a $4.9 million National Science Foundation grant in 2014 to establish the Midwestern Critical Zone Observatory or ‘CZO’ to focus scientific research on impacts of agriculture and climate change on Midwestern rivers.

Situated on rolling prairie with rich soil, the sites encompassed by the Midwestern CZO fuel the nation’s breadbasket. But intense modifications during the past two centuries, including fertilization and drainage systems, have taken a toll on the region’s rivers, which are among the nation’s most polluted waterways.

“We’re trying to understand the resilience of this ecosystem and how it withstands these human-driven changes,” Belmont says “Though the Midwest is distant and different from Utah in some ways, we can apply many of the same questions and investigative techniques here in the West and other places.”

Belmont, who is part of USU’s new NSF-funded Climate Adaptation Science Graduate Research Traineeship program, praises the efforts of participating states, including Minnesota, in working toward science-based solutions.

“Minnesota, in particular, is really getting behind cooperative, multi-stakeholder pursuits using science to seek solutions,” he says. “It’s a great example of a positive management approach to complex challenges.”

Related Links
“NSF Award Funds New Graduate Climate Adaptation Science Effort at USU,” Utah State Today 
“Mission Critical: USU Scientist Probes Human Impacts on Midwest Rivers,” Utah State Today 
USU Department of Watershed Sciences
USU Ecology Center 
USU Quinney College of Natural Resources 

Contact: Patrick Belmont,
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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