Noel R. Urban

Professor, Environmental Engineering

Director, Center for Water and  Society

Dept. Civil & Environmental Engineering
Michigan Technological University
1400 Townsend Dr.
Houghton, Michigan 49931

Telephone: (906)487-3640
Fax: (906) 487-2943


 [Current Research Projects] [Courses on the Web ] [Publications] [Web Links ]


Ph.D. Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1987
M.S. Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota, 1984
B.S. Environmental Engineering, Syracuse University, 1979
B.A. Russian Language and Culture, Syracuse University, 1980


CE3501 Environmental Engineering Fundamentals (not available)

CE3502 Environmental Monitoring, Measurements and Data Analysis Spring 2012

CE4505 Surface Water Quality Engineering Fall 2011

CE4501 Environmental Engineering Chemical Processes,  (not available)

CE4905 Senior Design (not available)
CE5508 Biogeochemical Processes  Fall 2011

CE5992 Environmental Engineering Seminar Spring 2012

Research Interests

Environmental cycles of major and trace elements; sediment diagenesis and stratigraphy; chemistry of natural organic matter; wetland biogeochemistry; environmental impact and fate of pollutants; influence of organisms on the chemical environment; role of chemical environment in controlling populations.

Past Research Projects

Retention of sulfur in lake sediments
Effects of copper mining on wetlands, lakes, and terrestrial ecosystems
Wetland Research
Carbon Cycling in Lake Superior

Phosphorus cycling in Lake Superior

Release of copper from stamp sands into Lake Superior

Sediment-water exchange of nutrients in reservoirs

Use of naturally-occurring radionuclides as tracers of biogeochemical processes

Sedimentation in Schoharie Reservoir, New York State

Recovery of sediments in Torch Lake from the effects of Copper Mining


Current Research Projects

Carbon cycling in the Great Lakes

Effects of climate and land-use change on hydrology and water quality in the Great Lakes Basin

Integrated Assessment of Torch Lake AOC

Assessment of mining impacts on stream mouths on the Keweenaw Peninsula

Chemical, Physical, and Radiative Properties of North Atlantic Free Tropospheric Aerosol after Long-range Transport

Managing Impacts of Global Transport of Atmosphere-surface Exchangeable Pollutants in the Context of Global Change


Recent publications

Auer, MT, Auer, NA, Urban NR, Auer T. 2013.  Distribution of the amphipod Diporeia in Lake

            Superior:  the Ring of Fire, J. Great Lakes Res. 39(1):33-46.

Bennington, V, McKinley G, McDonald CP, Urban NR, 2012.  Can spatial heterogeneity explain

            the perceived imbalance in Lake Superior’s carbon budget:  a modeling study. J.

            Geophys. Res. – Biogeosciences, 117: G03020,  DOI 10.1029/2011JG001895RR.

McDonald, CP, Bennington V, Urban NR, McKinley GA, 2012.  1-D test-bed calibration of a 3-D

Lake Superior biogeochemical model, Ecological Modeling 225(1):115-126.

Atilla, N., McKinley, G.A., Bennington, V., Baehr, M., Urban, N.R., DeGrandpre, M., Desai,

            A.R., Wu, C. 2010, Observed Variability of Lake Superior pCO2, Limnol. Oceanogr.,


McDonald, C.P., Urban, N.R., Casey, C.M. 2010, Modeling historical trends in Lake Superior

            total nitrogen concentrations, J. Great Lakes Res. 36(4):715-721.

McDonald, C.P., Urban, NR, Barkach, JH, McCauley, D. 2009, Copper profiles in the sediments

of a mining-impacted lake, Journal Soils and Sediments, 10(3):343-349.

McDonald, CP, Urban, NR, 2009, Using a model selection criterion to identify appropriate

complexity in aquatic biogeochemical models, Ecol. Modeling, 221(3):  428-432.

Schultz, P., Urban NR, 2007, Effects of bacterial dynamics on organic matter decomposition and

nutrient release from sediments: A modeling study, Ecol. Modeling,

doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel. 2007.06.026

Urban, NR, MT Auer, SA Green, D Apul, L Bub, KD Elenbaas, X Lu, 2005, Carbon cycling in

L. Superior, J. Geophys. Res., 110(C6): doi: 10.1029/2003JC002230 C06S90

Urban, NR, Apul, D.S., Auer, MT, 2004, Planktonic Respiration Rates in Lake Superior,

J. Great Lakes Res., 30(Suppl. 1):230-244

Urban, NR, Y Chai, J Jeong, 2004, The benthic nepheloid layer (BNL) north of the Keweenaw

Peninsula in Lake Superior:  composition, dynamics, and role in sediment transport,

J. Great Lakes Research., 30(Suppl. 1):133-146.

Urban, NR, X. Lu, Y. Chai, D. Apul, 2004, Sediment trap studies in Lake Superior:  Insights

 into resuspension, cross-margin transport and carbon cycling, J. Great Lakes Research, 30(Suppl. 1):147-161

Chai, Y, NR Urban, 2004, 210Po and 210Pb distributions and disequilibria in the near-shore

region of Lake Superior, J. Geophys. Res., VOL. 109, C10S07, doi:10.1029/2003JC002081, 2004

Russ, ME, Ostrom, NE, Ostrom, PH, Gandhi, H, Urban, NR, 2004, Temporal and spatial variations

in R:P ratios in Lake Superior, an oligotrophic freshwater environment, J. Geophys. Res.

109(C10), DOI:10.1029/2003JC001890, C10S12

Churchill, JH, Ralph, EA, Cates, AM, Budd, JR, Urban, NR, 2002, Observations of a negatively

buoyant river plume in a large lake, Limnol. Oceanogr. 48(2): 884-894

Urban, NR, Monte, AE, 2001, Sulfur burial in and release from the sediments of Little Rock

Lake, Wisconsin, Can. J. Fish. Aquat.  Sci., 58(7):1347-1355
Urban, NR, Sampson, CJ, Brezonik, PL, Baker, LA, 2001, Sulfur cycling in the water

column of Little Rock Lake, Wisconsin, Biogeochemistry 52:41-77

Urban, NR, Ernst, K, Bernasconi, S, 1999, Incorporation of sulfur into organic

matter during early diagenesis of lake sediments, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 63(6):837-853
Jeong, J, Urban, NR, Green, SA, 1999, Release of Copper from Mine Tailings on the Keweenaw

Peninsula, J. Great Lakes Res. 25(4):721-734
Urban, NR, Dinkel, C, Wehrli, B, 1997, Solute transfer across the sediment surface of a

eutrophic lake: I. Porewater profiles from dialysis samplers, Aquatic Science 59:1-25

Web Links

Coastal Ocean Program
Trout Lake Limnological Station
Long-term Ecological Research Program

Scientific Organizations
American Society for Limnology & Oceanography
American Geophysical Union
American Chemical Society

Environmental Literature, Information, etc.
Elsevier Publications Table of Contents
Environmental Encyclopedia, MSDS info
NOAA's Drought Information Center
NOAA Public Affairs
USGS Streamflow Conditions
Great Lakes Water Quality Trading Program

Great Lakes Information and Related Links
Great Lakes Commision
Great Lakes Information Network
Great Lakes Islands
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Great Lakes Laboratory for Fisheries and Aquatic Studies, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada Centre for Inland Waters
Great Lakes National Program Office, U.S.EPA
Great Lakes Information Management Resource
Great Lakes Buoy Data
Great Lakes Surface Temperatures
Coastal Engineering
KITES Project (L. Superior)
Michigan Sea Grant


Maintained by N.R. Urban
Last updated September 2004