UNL and NICC Partner to Study Ecological Effects of Flooding

July 1, 2020, 6:30 p.m. ·

A home near the Missouri River in Brownville, Nebraska. (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

Nebraska Indian Community College in Niobrara and the University of Nebraska – Lincoln are partnering to study the ecological effects of the 2019 floods.

The research will be funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Nebraska State Climate Office.

Data will be gathered from satellite images, weather data, stream flows, and on-the-ground assessment.

Marth Shulski is Nebraska’s state climatologist. She said that information will be used to see how flooding affected the natural landscape.

“This opportunity came about to look at, what did the flood of 2019, how did that impact the river and the ecology, and essentially the landscape?" Shulski said. "How did that change the landscape of the Missouri River in that part of Nebraska?”

Research will include looking at changes in soil, river channels, and plants.

Hank Miller is the mass science division head at NICC. He says the research techniques will eventually be used to study other climate events.

“Once we get a good protocol for that, a good method of doing that, then we’d want to go back a little further and look at the 2011 flooding and the drought in 2012 and see how these living things responded to weather and then these extreme flooding and drought conditions,” Miller said.

The research will include students from NICC and students from UNL’s school of natural resources. It will start on the Santee campus of NICC, which is located in an area that was heavily affected by flooding.