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Science On Tap: Salting Our Lakes Livestream


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Lakes are integral to Wisconsin, used for recreation, fishing, and drinking water. At the Center for Limnology , UW-Madison, Hilary Dugan, Ph.D., is working to understand the flow paths of water and carbon in lake-catchment systems. Through her research, she hopes to bring more awareness to water quality issues across Wisconsin.

In the 1940s, Americans found a new way to love salt. Not simply for sprinkling on food — we had acquired a taste for the mineral long before that — but for spreading on roads and sidewalks. Salt became a go-to method to de-ice frozen pavement. During the past half-century, annual U.S. sales of road salt grew from 160,000 tons to about 20 million tons, as pointed out in a study in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of the Sciences. NaCl kept roads free from slippery ice, but it also changed the nature of North America's freshwater lakes. Of 371 lakes reviewed in the new study, 44 percent showed signs of long-term salinization.