What do you see?

February 10, 2015

By Jane Mazack

Exploring Daley Creek is a blog series that investigates the biological and physical processes at work in a small stream in Minnesota and what it means to consider rivers in a scientific framework. Follow along to learn more about life in the stream and its broader connections, both in the present and as we consider a future of climate change.

Imagine on this February morning that you’re standing alongside Daley Creek in southeastern Minnesota. It’s a chilly 12°F, and your breath fogs in the morning air. You look around and see the following scene:


Daley Creek, Houston County, Minnesota. Photo by the author, all rights reserved.

Daley Creek, Houston County, Minnesota. Photo by the author, all rights reserved.

But what exactly do you see?

You may see that despite the cold weather, the water in the stream is not frozen. But you may not know why.

You may see a farm in the background. But you may not be aware how that affects the stream.

You may see animal tracks lining the snowy banks of the stream. But you may not realize that there are hundreds of fish and tens of thousands of aquatic insects living in the stream itself, even in the depths of winter.

Even this very small stream is full of complexity. It’s a product of natural history and cultural history; of watershed and ecology; of fish and insects; of past, present, and future. Climate change complicates this natural world in ways we need to understand. How is Daley Creek already being affected by climate changes? How will it change in the future?

In order to address this broad and complex issue, we need to begin by answering specific questions: how do its geological, hydrological, and ecological components make Daley Creek what it is today? Only by understanding the past and present can we begin to look at the future in the midst of a changing climate. Follow along with us in this blog series as we consider these questions in an effort to more fully and scientifically understand the river.

The writing and analysis of this blog series were conducted under the auspices of the John E. Sawyer Seminar “Making the Mississippi: Formulating New Water Narratives for the 21st Century”. Sawyer seminars are funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation; further information about “Making the Mississippi” can be found here.