Science Articles

Articles specific to the primary branches of science including climate change, water quality, archaeology and more.

Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Earth Day 2024: Planet vs. Plastics in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

From the single-use water bottles, containers and bags you might carry into the park to microplastics detected in the lake water around the islands, plastics are having an impact on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Doing something about our personal and global dependence on plastics is the global theme of Earth Day 2024.Earth Day is an annual event designed to promote the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability. Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970. On that day, an estimated 20 million people nationwide attended the inaugural...

Dark Sky Week: from the first lighthouse beacon to the starry skies of today and beyond

Dark Sky Week: from the first lighthouse beacon to the starry skies of today and beyond

Michigan Island Lighthouse - 1913 - NPS photoThe first brilliant beam pierced the ink black skies over the Apostle Islands like a lightning bolt. The year was 1856, when the first keeper lighted the lamp atop the original Michigan Island lighthouse for the first time. In the years that followed, keepers lit a constellation of new lights on Long, Raspberry, Outer, Sand, Devils and Michigan Islands.All of the light stations built in the late 1800s and early 1900s were designed to help mariners navigate their way around the Apostle Islands while avoiding dangerous shoals in the dark of night....

How you can celebrate International Dark Sky Week in and around the Apostle Islands

How you can celebrate International Dark Sky Week in and around the Apostle Islands

International Dark Sky Week draws worldwide attention to light pollution, promotes simple solutions and celebrates the irreplaceable beauty of a natural night. High school student Jennifer Barlow started International Dark Sky Week (IDSW) in 2003. In explaining why she founded the event, Barlow said, “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future. I want to help preserve its wonder.”Here are some ways you can discover the nightGet outside at night with friends and...

Retiring NPS Division Chief Julie Van Stappen reflects on decades of service to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Retiring NPS Division Chief Julie Van Stappen reflects on decades of service to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

After dedicating more than three decades of work to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Julie Van Stappen retires as Chief of Planning and Resource Management at the end of 2023. Julie grew up in Chicago; she spent vacations and later summers in northern Wisconsin. Her love of - and appreciation for - nature and science grew during her college years, during which she studied geology, earned an advanced degree in aquatic ecology and gained experience in the US Forest Service and at various locations in National Park Service before landing her dream job at the Apostle Islands National...

Treasures of the night: Friends to focus on protecting the night sky over the Apostle Islands in 2024 and beyond

Treasures of the night: Friends to focus on protecting the night sky over the Apostle Islands in 2024 and beyond

It begins with a faint glimmer, just a hint of brightness on the northern horizon, then builds, rising like an aria. Soon, the night sky is glowing green and red, dancing with light, shimmering like diamonds. The aurora is out. The northern lights are gleaming above the Apostle Islands. Aurora over Honeymoon Rock - Jeff Rennicke photo“To watch the white sail of a full moon gliding across the stars or see the brushstroke of the Milky Way or the flicker of northern lights painting the night sky is to witness one of true the wonders of the world, a gift of nature,” says Jeff Rennicke, Executive...

Prescribed cultural burn planned for Stockton Island tombolo this fall, weather permitting

Prescribed cultural burn planned for Stockton Island tombolo this fall, weather permitting

BAYFIELD, WISCONSIN (National Park Service News Release) –The National Park Service, in collaboration with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Tribal partners, is planning a 33-acre prescribed fire on Stockton Island (Wiisaakodewan-minis) between September 13 and October 15, if weather conditions permit. This prescribed fire will be a cultural burn; objectives include restoring globally imperiled pine barrens habitat with an emphasis on increasing blueberry (miin) production. Cultural burns take Indigenous Knowledge, which is a deep knowledge of a place that has been painstakingly...

Connecting people and the Apostle Islands to Costa Rican parks

Connecting people and the Apostle Islands to Costa Rican parks

10 Bayfield area volunteers, including Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore board members Neil Howk and Mark Peterson, recently left snowy Wisconsin to complete two weeks of conservation work on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula, under an agreement between Lake Superior’s national parks and Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC).The parks are linked by migratory birds that winter in Costa Rica and breed in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and other parks around Lake Superior. The agreement signed in 2013 encourages both institutions to work for the benefit of...

“Discover the night” in the Apostle Islands during International Dark Sky Week

“Discover the night” in the Apostle Islands during International Dark Sky Week

30 miles offshore, Devils Island and Outer Island offer some incredible views of the Milky Way set in a field of innumerable stars. And if you’re very fortunate, you'll witness the spectacular northern lights dancing in some of the darkest skies in Wisconsin. The featured photo above captures the northern lights as seen from the top of the Outer Island lighthouse. In fact, most of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers great night sky viewing; night sky lovers, stargazers and photographers want to protect those views for generations to come.Milky Way over Stockton Island - Jon...

Like being inside of a diamond: Apostle Islands shimmer with northern lights

Like being inside of a diamond: Apostle Islands shimmer with northern lights

It began with just a faint rippling of light. The sun had barely set, its light still coloring the sky, but already it was clear: something special was happening.NOAA northern lights forecast - click to enlargeOn the night of March 23, 2023, the sky over the northern United States glittered in one of the strongest displays of northern lights in decades, visible as far south as northern Missouri. In the Apostle Islands, clear skies and just a sliver of moon, meant perfect viewing conditions.Our Executive Director Jeff Rennicke caught the display over the national lakeshore. “To stand beneath...

Dave Cooper awarded John L. Cotter Award for Excellence in NPS Archeology

Dave Cooper awarded John L. Cotter Award for Excellence in NPS Archeology

(NPS News Release) Join us in congratulating David J. Cooper, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Archeologist and Cultural Resource Manager, in being awarded the John L. Cotter Award for Excellence in NPS Archeology for Professional Achievement. “Dave Cooper’s work shows the impact one person can have not only within a park, but across a whole landscape,” said Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Superintendent Lynne Dominy. “Dave has spent his lifetime protecting the historical and cultural resources on and around Lake Superior. From portages to fish camps to lighthouses and shipwrecks, Dave...