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American scientist wins 2011 Stockholm Water Prize

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World Water Day: University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental scientist Stephen Carpenter wins for his research demonstrating how lake ecosystems are affected by the surrounding landscape and human activities.


An American environmental scientist has been named the 2011 Stockholm Water Prize laureate.

Stephen Carpenter, a professor of zoology and limnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was recognized by Sweden for his research demonstrating how lake ecosystems are affected by the surrounding landscape and by human activities.

His research on trophic cascades in lakes --  a concept that describes how impacts to any species in an ecosystem will cascade down, or up, the food chain -- has informed how concrete can be used to manage lakes.

Specializing in ecology, the 59-year-old scientist "reframed our understanding of freshwater environments and how lake ecosystems are impacted by humans and the surrounding landscape" by combining theoretical models and large-scale lake experiments.

Specifically, Carpenter's work helps us understand how we affect lakes through nutrient loading, fishing, and introduction of exotic species, the award committee said.

"Professor Carpenter has shown outstanding leadership in setting the ecological research agenda, integrating it into a socio-ecological context, and in providing guidance for the management of aquatic resources," a Stockholm International Water Institute committee said in a statement.

H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will present the prize -- $150,000 and a crystal sculpture specially designed by Orrefors -- to Carpenter at a royal award ceremony during World Water Week in Stockholm on August 25.

The announcement coincides with World Water Day, held on March 22 for the last 18 years.

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure