The Volatile Mississippi: Challenges Ahead as Region Sees Continued Development, More Floods

By on July 3, 2018

From St. Louis Public Radio:  Rivers have never been static things – least of all the mighty Mississippi. But the major waterway’s recent volatility has taken that natural characteristic to new levels.

“Even Lewis and Clark made measurements on how much the river level changed every day … and their journals are full [of] what those readings are,” Robert Criss, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University, said on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air. “The river [is now] demonstrably more than twice as volatile [as] it was historically.”

Criss added that the third-highest water level ever recorded along the Mississippi’s local banks was just a couple years ago, in January 2016.

“On New Year’s Day,” he said. “This is preposterous. These rivers are not responding in a natural way.”

Criss joined host Don Marsh to discuss river and floodplain policy in the region. Also participating in the discussion were Jonathan Remo, an associate professor in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Department of Geography and Environmental Resources, and David Stokes, executive director of the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance.

All three guests have a role in a free conference taking place in Forest Park this week: River Soundings: Life, Laws, and Levees on the Mississippi.

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