Minnesota Sampler: Noise from the Depths of Lake Superior

Photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Reporter John Myers listened closely when a researcher he knows mentioned something “you probably wouldn’t be interested in.” 

The result is a feature story published this summer in the Duluth News Tribune that’s also the latest installment of Minnesota Sampler, a periodic MNSPJ feature that spotlights great work by journalists across the state.

Myers was interviewing Jay Austin, a scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth who has a knack for stumbling into intriguing curiosities.

Austin was the first to look at temperature data from buoys on Lake Superior, and wound up publishing landmark climate research showing a warming trend for the lake’s surface water. His latest pursuit is underwater noise in the big lake that involves the burbot, which Myers described as “a prehistoric fish in the cod family that looks like a cross between a catfish and an eel.”

“I just like doing stories on science, especially now when so many are dumping on science,” Myers said. “It’s fascinating.” 

Myers, 56, has worked at the News Tribune for 30 years. His beat is the environment and natural resources, including extensive coverage of mining issues. 

Myers is prolific, with stories that regularly capture unique aspects of the region – from a barred owl that landed on a Duluth police car, to operations of the Madeline Island ferry. He also pitches in on public safety coverage, including a long feature in February about a couple that froze to death on the deck outside their locked home, despite having keys that could have let them in. 

“I really try to do stuff that other folks haven’t,” Myers said.