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Suzanne Magdalene

Dr. Suzanne Magdalene, Assistant Scientist

Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Agricultural Drainage, 2004
M.S., University of Minnesota, Karst Geostatistics, 1995
B.A. University of Minnesota, Groundwater Hydrogeology, 1990

Phone: 651-433-5953 ext. 25

Research Interests

photo of Dr. Suzanne Magdalene

My research interests lie within the intersection of human culture and earth system dynamics, particularly in the medium of waters. I am interested in the human history of water use, from the loci of cultural development and early transportation routes to water power and environmental protection. The water cycle is a natural phenomenon that adjusts to global changes. In recent centuries, global waters have had to adjust to an increasing influence of human behavior. In the Midwestern U.S. the water cycle, which achieved balance in the post-glacial period of the last 10,000 years, has been thrown off by urban and rural developments during the last century. As a river scientist, the current-day change in ecosystems, as an accelerated adjustment to a new norm, is interesting to observe and interpret.

Monitoring Protocols

Many regulatory and non-governmental organizations are involved in the work of environmental monitoring. Standardized methods are an essential tool for the development of meaningful data. When environmental data are collected in a consistent manner, the data become more useful to others for comparison with data collected in the same locality by other agencies, and for comparison with data collected in other localities. Design of a new protocol must account for the variability of a given constituent or indicator within a given body of water, and prove itself to meet monitoring goals. Often a chosen protocol reflects a balance of tradition, scientific validity, technological ease of use, and expense.

Water Quality in Large Rivers

Large rivers function as the arteries of a landscape, integrating across ecosystems and human land uses. Large rivers transmit both the flows and the water quality concentrations and loads representing the complexity of their watersheds. The goal of a watershed loading study is to track the sources of water quality loads that originate in the watershed uplands. In the past, it was considered sufficient to identify the range of observed behavior of a given flow system. However, human impacts and climate change in recent decades have highlighted the importance of identifying not just status but also trends in the water quality of a flow system. New statistical methods have been developed that help to untangle the complex signals of climate, landscape, and seasonal ecology.

St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team

The St. Croix Watershed Research Station (SCWRS) has been a partner of the St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team (Basin Team) since its inception and hosts many Basin Team meetings. The Basin Team is a unique interstate, interagency collaboration, united for the protection of the St. Croix River and the waters of its basin. The SCWRS has provided the Basin Team with the defensible science that underpins current water quality goals for the impaired Lake St. Croix, a riverine lake comprised of four longitudinal basins that integrate water quality inputs for the entire basin. Riverine lakes include an added dimension beyond large river hydrology, that of their lake-like ecology, especially for those with deepened pools that permit thermal stratification. Continued degradation of Lake St. Croix (in elevated chlorophyll levels and algal blooms), in spite of significant decreases in phosphorus inputs over three decades, has generated further study into 1) the ecological functioning of phytoplankton and zooplankton, and 2) the internal loading of Lake St. Croix.

Data Management, Accessibility, and Visualization

As with many large rivers, the St. Croix enjoys the protection of resource managers from local, regional, state, and federal levels, and the attention of several nongovernmental organizations. However, each agency has its own responsibility and each organization has its own mission. Thus, there is no united approach to the storage or management of environmental data within the St. Croix basin. This is exasperated when neither Minnesota nor Wisconsin has the purview to track the data of its sister agencies. The water quality within the river is a composite of the runoff from both states, and yet no agency documents the important environmental data for the entire basin. The Basin Team, through its commitment to protect the St. Croix, has occasionally brought together much of this data on an ad hoc, project basis. In 2011, the Basin Team determined that a high priority was to develop a State of the River Report, a basin-wide assessment of environmental monitoring. Such an effort requires a unified, basin-wide database. Then collaborative interagency data could be made accessible to the public via a single web portal. I endeavor to aid the public understanding of complex environmental data, by searching for simple ways to visualize complex data.

Representative Publications

Lafrancois, B. M., Magdalene, S., Johnson, D.K., VanderMeulen, D., and Engstrom, D. 2012 (expected). Water quality conditions and trends in the Mississippi National River and Recreational Area, 1976-2005. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/GLKN/NRTR—2012/XXX. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Magdalene, S. 2012. Strategic Planning Outcomes: Report on the vision, mission, and near-term goals that arose from the 2011 strategic planning process. St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team, April 2012. view online

Elias, J., Magdalene S., and Engstrom, D.R. 2010. Wadeable streams water quality monitoring protocol. National Park Service, Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network, unpublished report.

Magdalene, S. 2009. Lake St. Croix total phosphorus loading study. St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team, Implementation Committee, May 2009. view online

Lafrancois, B.M., Magdalene, S., Johnson, D.K. 2009. Recent water quality trends and a comparison to sediment-core records for two riverine lakes of the Upper Mississippi River basin: Lake St. Croix and Lake Pepin. Journal of Paleolimnology 41:603-622, DOI 10.1007/s10933-008-9294-3. [pdf available on request]

Emmons and Olivier Resources Inc, and Magdalene, S. 2008. Big River Study, Report to the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. view online

Magdalene, S. 2008. Site establishment for large rivers water quality monitoring: stage-discharge relationships at selected sites within the St. Croix National Wild and Scenic Riverway. National Park Service, Great Lakes Inventory and Monitoring Network Report GLKN/2008/02. view online

Lafrancois, B. M., Magdalene, S., and Johnson, D.K. 2008. Three Decades of Water Quality Change (1976-2005) in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Abstracts of the Sixth Annual Western Great Lakes Research Conference, April 1-2, 2008. view online

Magdalene S., Engstrom, D.R., and Elias, J. 2008. Large rivers water quality monitoring protocol, Version 1.0. National Park Service, Great Lakes Network, Ashland, Wisconsin. NPS/GLKN/NRR—2008/060. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. view online

Magdalene, S., Hansen, D., Johnson, D.K., Affeldt, C., Moraska Lafrancois, B., Thiel, T. 2007. Monitoring Plan for the St. Croix River. St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team, Monitoring and Assessment Committee. view online

Magdalene, S., Engstrom, D.R., Elias, J., and Beever, E. 2006. Statistically-based sampling design for a large rivers water quality monitoring protocol. Abstracts of the Fifth Annual Western Great Lakes Research Conference, March 22-23, 2006. view online