Probe generates deeper data from Lake Superior

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UMD scientists have deployed a new tool in their efforts to understand Lake Superior. The tool, a solar powered buoy, was deployed by the Large Lakes Observatory on Tuesday and is already generating data about air and water temperatures.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that the $75,000 probe “gives nearly real-time data” to UMD researcher Jay Austin’s “computer back at UMD. But it may take years, even decades, before researchers see long-term trends from the information.”

“More data is better. But it will probably be someone else, long after I’m gone, who actually uses this to figure out what’s going on,” Austin told the Tribune.

Austin and his team continue to produce important research relating to climate change and warming trends on Lake Superior. Last year, at 68.3°F, Lake Superior reached its hottest average surface temperature on record.

MPR’s Bob Kelleher reported from the beach when the lake reached it’s record high. The story is worth revisiting for the sounds of the beach alone.

Austin attributed the record surface water temperature, in part, to the lack of ice cover the during the preceding winter.

This summer will be the first major opportunity for the new probe to shed insight into the lake temperatures. Given the ice cover this winter, August temperatures are expected to be closer to the normal average high near 55°F.

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“If hair is going to be a factor in this race … then I’m going to grow my mullet back out” — Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, on the possibility of running against Donald Trump (City Pages).

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Is it time to tax consumption in Minnesota?

Some of you don’t like Gov. Mark Dayton’s idea to raise income taxes on the wealthiest. Some of you say government can’t just pare back spending as a way to close the budget and not touch raising some tax revenue, as the GOP legislature would support.

Okay. How about sales taxes. Did you know that there have been rumblings in the state legislature to spread the sales tax to clothing in Minnesota. We are one of the few states in the nation that don’t impose a sales tax on clothing

And did you know that Gov. Dayton’s original budget proposal calls for a tax on certain Internet sales (those done through state-owned online sales companies).

What if the sales tax were broadened even further – to other currently exempt purchases like food and medical care – if the overall rate of 6.875 was reduced? An attorney, former state revenue chief and current tax policy analyst, John James, suggests this (here is a letter he wrote to the gubernatorial candidates in 2010 making the case).

So in this time of state budget belt-tightening and a fight over how to raise new revenue – How would you change the way sales are taxed in Minnesota, if at all?

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