Making the right connections

This week Freshwater Society convened a dozen people for a day-long meeting and field tour addressing the seemingly unlikely intersection of muddy rivers, landslide hazards, and NASA satellites.

In Minnesota, large and intense rainstorms are on the rise. Saturated ground that is hit by an intense rain event is more likely to fail. When river bluffs give way they pollute streams but also create hazards.

Freshwater Society is participating in a statewide LCCMR-funded project to inventory land vulnerable to landslides and quantify its sediment input to rivers. We are also partnering with Hennepin County Emergency Management to map their vulnerable slopes. They hope to predict slope failure and avoid hazardous consequences not only to natural resources but also to human life and infrastructure.

Drawing on the Minnesota roots of Dr. Dalia Kirschbaum of NASA Goddard Space Center, we convened a meeting of our local partners when she came home for a visit. We wanted to understand her work using the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission to predict precipitation-driven landslides worldwide.

Although Minnesota is not the most landslide-prone region Dr. Kirschbaum has seen, she attended the grade school that was impacted by the tragic Lilydale landslide and understands how important it is to Minnesotans to understand their vulnerabilities. She agrees that we are on the right track with our efforts, applauded our collaboration, and gave us valuable data leads. It is always good to have allies in high places.

— Carrie Jennings, research and policy director