Chris Jones

It's good to be orange

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. This post first appeared at the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

Many have written how earth’s species are undergoing a mass extinction right now, the sixth such event in the planet’s history. These writers include Elizabeth Kolbert and the famous biologist Edward O. Wilson. Extinctions are occurring now at a faster pace than any time since 65 million years ago, when earth’s collision with a 7-mile wide asteroid caused the 5th great extinction, wiping out 70 percent of all species.

One species that did survive the fifth extinction was the Pallid Sturgeon. This fish entered earth’s evolutionary record about 70 million years ago. “Pallid” means absence of color, and true enough, the pallid sturgeon is nearly white. It is one of the largest (up to 85 pounds), longest-lived (as long as 100 years) and ugliest (like a bizarre cross between a shark and an armadillo) fish species in North America. The fish is endangered because we wrecked the Missouri River.

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Drunk Dad

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. First published at the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

William Blake said, “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” I think about this ever-more frequently as the years fly by. I am at the point in my life where I want to “call it” when more than enough becomes maddeningly obvious. Enough of more than enough.

The latest episode in this series is the idea reported in the Des Moines Register and elsewhere that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE, or Corps) favors endangered species over people, especially with regard to the recent Missouri River flooding.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the inner workings of the Corps, but I’ve been up and down the river enough times to know that this is not an agency staffed with radical environmentalists. I find this idea to be a crystallization of the obstacles before us as we try to make Iowa’s landscape more resilient, sustainable and ecologically sound.

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Iowa's real population

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. First published on the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowa has around 3 million people, a total that has changed little over the last 80 to 90 years. People are large animals, and as such our bodies produce a lot of waste. That being said, we produce much less waste than the animals that we eat.

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Iowa stream nitrate: This is what happened

Chris Jones is a research engineer (IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering) at the University of Iowa. First published on the author’s blog. -promoted by Laura Belin

This is What Happened

Many people are curious about Iowa stream nitrate before modern agriculture became established across the landscape. They want to know what the “natural” level of nitrate was. It turns out we do have some actual data. In 1955, the Iowa Geological Survey published a document titled “Water-Supply Bulletin No. 5, Quality of Surface Waters of Iowa, 1886-1954” (1). Some of these data are shown below (as nitrogen).

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