Archive for March, 2010

GIS in Orlando

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I’m in Orlando this week for the AWRA Spring 2010 Specialty Conference, “GIS and Water Resources VI.” This biannual series always is a big hit. Jack Dangermond of ESRI gave the keynote talk, which previewed a new working model for sharing GIS water data on the web. I’m working with Jack and the conference committee to get a version of this talk into JAWRA along with some commentary by other panelists.

This series of conferences seems to go in cycles. Two years ago in San Mateo, most of the talks seemed to me, “Here’s what we’re going to do.” This year, there’s more “Here’s what we did” papers. I’ve already seen over a dozen talks and posters where I will encourage the authors to submit JAWRA papers. I think our readers will see some fine work coming out of this conference.

For now, I’m back to work in the House of the Mouse.

Satellite Rainfall Applications

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

April 2010 Article: ”Critical Steps for Continuing Advancement of Satellite Rainfall Applications for Surface Hydrology in the Nile River Basin, “ Mekonnen Gebremichael, Emmanouil N. Anagnostou, and Menberu M. Bitew. (Highlights courtesy of Associate Editor Faisal Hossain)

As part of the Featured Series,  ‘Satellites and Transboundary Water’, we have an important contribution on the advancement of satellite rainfall remote sensing for hydrologic modeling in transboundary basin of the Nile river. Because satellites only offer an indirect measurement (an estimate), validation against ground information is very critical before the actual use can continue to infer hydrologic behavior of an ungauged or sparsely gauged river basin. The authors provide an insightful look into this aspect and then go on to provide a systematic approach to validation of satellite rainfall products. Most ground information on rainfall are point-based and which raises the age-old question of ‘how many gauges are acceptable within a satellite gridbox to perform a robust validation?’  Since rainfall is a highly intermittent process with strong spatial and temporal gradients, this question has been difficult to resolve. Using a highly dense gauge network setup by the authors in the highlands of Ethiopia, the problematic issues of validation and ways to overcome them are clearly laid out with hands-on examples. We believe this work is a seminal step forward in promoting the use of satellite rainfall data in transboundary rivers around the world where ground instrumentation is often sparse or absent.

Featured Series: Satellites and Transboundary Water

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Associate Editor Faisal Hossain has been working on a featured series, “Satellites and Transboundary Water: Emerging Ideas.”  The basic idea is space technology is providing new ways for nations to obtain critical data from outside their territory. He’s made a great video, which you can see on YouTube.

Hot Zones and Hot Moments

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

April 2010 paper: “Hot Spots and Hot Moments in Riparian Zones: Potential for Improved Water Quality Management,” by Philippe Vidon, Craig Allan, Douglas Burns, Tim P. Duval, Noel Gurwick, Shreeram Inamdar, Richard Lowrance, Judy Okay, Durelle Scott and Steve Sebestyen.

The authors look at biologically and hydrologically heterogeneous processes, or “hot spots and moments” of retention, degradation, or production. Studies of “hot” phenomena in riparian zones traditionally have focused on nitrogen, but the authors summarize current knowledge for phosphorus, organic matter, pesticides, and mercury across riparian zones.

Modelers and regulators might like to deal with uniform processes, or at least things that vary smoothly and regularly. Nature, however, is very non-uniform both temporally and spatially. (See JAWRA-09-0031the accompanying figure.) Biogeochemical hot spots/moments are generally governed by subtle changes in electron acceptor and donor availability, redox conditions, and hydrological conditions. This heterogeneity presents significant challenges for riparian management. The authors conclude, “The recognition of the importance of hot phenomena in annual watershed contaminant budgets is likely to lead to the development of a new generation of water quality models where spatial and temporal heterogeneity is better characterized.”

I would consider this article a “must read” for anyone planning research into the chemistry of riparian zones.

[Please note: I have quoted and paraphrased freely from the article, but the interpretation is my own!]

Protecting River Corridors

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

In their April 2010 JAWRA article, “Protecting River Corridors in Vermont,” Michael Kline and Barry Cahoon describe river corridor planning in Vermont, whereby corridors are sized based on the meander belt width and assigned a sensitivity rating based on the likelihood of channel adjustment due to stressors. The approach is fundamentally based on restoring fluvial processes associated with dynamic equilibrium, and associated habitat features.

The authors freely concede Vermont has large geomorphic datasets based on rigorous assessment protocols — Vermont is, after all, a small state — but the techniques seem to have great value nationwide.  The article gives examples of how “active” restoration projects to confine a river to a fixed channel have consumed program budgets and required continued investments to correct failures. So Vermont switched to a restoration program that embraces the concepts and practices associated with dynamic and deformable rivers. Thus river corridors are delineated based upon existing and estimated meander belt width. The purpose of a river corridor easement is to give the river the space to re-establish a natural slope, meander pattern, and floodplain connection.

The authors note a passive approach may often be a desirable alternative due to its lower upfront costs and maintenance, but like active restoration, it is highly dependent upon reducing watershed stressors, and landowner willingness to accept changes in land use.

[Please note: I have quoted and paraphrased freely from the article, but the interpretation is my own!]

Featured Collection: Riparian Ecosystems & Buffers

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

The April 2010 issue will host a featured collection, “Riparian Ecosystems & Buffers”, put together by Guest Associate Editors Paul M. Mayer, Albert H. Todd, and Judith A. Okay, and Associate Editor Kathleen A. Dwire. AWRA hosts specialty conferences on this topic in a 3-year cycle, with the most recent conference held in Virginia Beach, VA, June 30-July 2, 2008.

We timed publication to fit midway between the 2008 and (presumed) 2011 conference. The 10 selected papers — all now available via EarlyView — expand upon ideas presented in 2008, but cover their subjects in more depth and with more documentation; all faced our thorough peer review. They can be classified into four categories: (1) riparian ecosystems as corridors, (2) nutrient processing at the landscape scale, (3) riparian buffer function, and (4) modeling and monitoring techniques. I will cover many of these papers in upcoming posts.

I attended the 2008 Specialty Conference, and was greatly impressed how much our understanding of riparian ecosystems has advanced in recent years. We better understand how flow regimes affect habitat and species, and how nutrients move (or do not move) through buffer zones. While far from complete, models and indices are becoming more realistic and more useful. As I paddle along rivers now, my understanding of what I see along the banks had been changed irrevocably.

April 2010 Cover

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Watch your mailboxes — the real ones — for the April 2010 cover. It’s a spectacular photo by Brian Walsh of our Washington State Section. The section holds a photo contest every year, with the winner being considered for JAWRA. Brian’s photo is titled, “Waterfall on the East Fork of the Lewis River in SW Washington State.”

The JAWRA cover format imposes rather strict cropping requirements. Brian and I worked to represent his photo within these constraints. So you can see his original composition, I’m including the original below, albeit in a reduced form. Congratulations Brian, and thanks!

Lewis River

Waterfall on the East Fork of the Lewis River in SW Washington State. Photo copyright by Brian Walsh, used with permission.

Spell checking in ScholarOne

Monday, March 8th, 2010

An Associate Editor of a certain age (one I resemble) recently complained that ScholarOne is prone to passing along spelling errors in comments. ScholarOne’s forms use notoriously small font to make everything fit on the screen. Even on my wonderful iMac, I sometimes have to strain to see what I’ve written! I know some authors have received decision letters which made them wonder if their Editor is indeed literate!

According to the “Help” info, ScholarOne does not have its own spelling checker, though some browsers implement their own checkers. Few will differentiate between “to/two”, “wear/where,” etc. We try our best — and yes, I know about mouse zooms — but mistakes happen. So, if you see a clunker, please chalk it up to aging eyes. Do as I say, not as I do!

Revised Instructions for Authors

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

At last! The revised Instructions for Authors are now online!

The revision incorporates many large and small changes which have accumulated over the last two years. Some of the most important are:

  • Literature Cited now distinguishes between formal citations and informal references. Data sets now are considered informal references, and are not listed in Literature Cited.
  • “Groundwater” is now treated as one word. This use conforms to the global trend as underscored by a recent change in USGS practice.
  • Information has been added regarding color selection if you choose to show color figures online but print in black-and-white.
  • Text has been added concerning manuscripts which have been previously published in proceedings.
  • There are new instructions for including online supplemental materials to papers.

If you are preparing a manuscript for submission to JAWRA, or even revising one under review, you should review the revised instructions.

To expedite future revisions, we are keeping the Instructions for Authors in PDF format. We will soon be adding more sections dealing with copy editing and post-acceptance production. The publishing field is changing rapidly, and we hope these revisions will keep JAWRA up to date.

Late manuscripts purged

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Today was the day of reckoning for 4 manuscripts with long-overdue revisions. You may have heard the thwack of the axe as all were cut from the system. All had received somewhat problematic reviews, but we thought they could be salvaged with some work.

None of the authors apparently felt they were worth pursuing, which I suppose is their call. None, however, had the courtesy to inform us of their decision to abandon the effort. I guess it proves the adage that no good deed goes unpunished!

Once again, we don’t mind at all if you need more time to revise your manuscript. Just keep us advised.