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Phosphorus is an essential building block of life, but it's also one of the world's most common and troublesome pollutants. Intensive agriculture unleashes excess levels of phosphorus in the form of manure and other fertilizers. What plants don't consume of this essential nutrient lingers on the ground or makes its way down into soil. Rain pushes this phosphorus into streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater. When too much enters a body of water, it can fuel blooms of noxious and sometimes toxic microorganisms — a frequent problem in lakes around Wisconsin and in the Great Lakes. Farmers, scientists, environmentalists, and state and local officials are struggling to reach a consensus about how to manage this nutrient pollution while maintaining a robust agricultural industry.More
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WisContext collaborates with researchers at the University of Wisconsin Applied Population Lab to explain demographic patterns and change around the state. These reports explore how Wisconsin's population shifts over time, and how the places people live, work and go to school can influence the health, economy, education and politics of Wisconsin. Data about a variety of population measures are presented in maps, charts and interactive visualizations to illustrate these trends. Demographic change guides the outlook of both individual communities and the state as a whole, influencing the news as it unfolds day-by-day and history as it takes shape over decades.More
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A century has passed since women won the right to vote in the United States, but their struggle for representation in government continues in the 21st century. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, but it is not a leader when it comes to electing women to office. The state lags behind its neighbors in terms of the number of women elected to state offices. Women also run for office less frequently, facing barriers related to opportunity, incumbency and other factors. To support more women running for office, organizations along the political spectrum are working at local, state and national levels. While Wisconsin might not be a front-runner in this matter of representation, the potential and possibilities for women in office are moving forward.More
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Wisconsin experiences all four seasons in their full intensity, sometimes even within a few days of each other. This pattern reflects a classic example of a continental climate, a classification applied to regions of the globe with hot or warm summers and cold winters with average temperatures often below freezing. More specifically, Wisconsin has a humid continental climate, and straddles the border between its hot and mild summer subtypes. What this means over the summer season is that many areas of the state can have temperatures high enough to be dangerous — to humans, to animals and even to plants. When the mercury rises, though, people can take action to protect lives and property.More
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Ticks are a familiar nuisance around Wisconsin, but they also pose a growing health risk to the humans they feed on, exposing them to disease-causing pathogens. Deer ticks have spread across much of the state in recent decades, feeding on wildlife along with people and their pets. These ticks transmit Lyme disease, and the state is facing a persistently high rate of infection. Ticks spread other illnesses as well. Entomologists and public health researchers are investigating the relationship between ticks, their hosts and the surrounding environment, but continue to emphasize prevention as the best way to reduce infections.More
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