Archive for June, 2010

2009 Odds of Acceptance

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

All 2009 manuscripts are in late stages of review, so we are able to estimate some statistics of interest to potential authors: (2008 numbers are in parentheses.)

50% of manuscripts were accepted (vs. 43% in 2008)
21% were rejected after review, or were withdrawn (16%); and
29% were returned without review (41%).

Time-to-first-decision for reviewed manuscripts (i.e. excluding those returned without review) remained a median 84 days, with 90% decided within 120 days.

The Importance of Archives

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

We received the sad announcement today that the University of Washington Water Center will close after 22 years of operation due to recent state budget cuts and changes in University of Washington program directions. What drew my attention was this part of the announcement: “An archive of the Water Center’s website will remain on-line for one year, with its rich collection of scientific research and educational outreach materials on water-resource issues.  …  However, as the site will no longer be maintained, over time, links may be broken.”

The fate of the Water Center materials should remind all researchers to chose a permanent, sustainable outlet for their work. I can’t guarantee that JAWRA or any journal will publish forever. But, with an organized and valuable archive, and a presence in many research libraries, the articles we publish today should be available for a long time.

What is a Technical Paper?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Some journals divide their articles into a half dozen categories: reports, perspectives, notes, research, reviews, etc. JAWRA articles are largely in one category: Technical Papers. As we begin to deal with more complex and controversial topics such as climate change and stream restoration, we’re seeing an increasing number of articles which offer opinions from an expert and facts-based perspective. Opinion articles do not follow the common hypothesis-testing-results form, but they nevertheless are held to high standards of review. They serve a very important function in giving direction to research and applications. Journals, in turn, provide a moderated forum for open, on-the-record discussion of the ideas advocated.

I’ve had some discussions about using more categories to better identify these opinion papers, but am reluctant to do so for a number of reasons. First of all, the line of demarcation is not all that clear. All research involves interpretation of facts, and honest researchers make clear the uncertainties of their work. Opinion articles are just more upfront about this. Secondly, having multiple categories would complicate putting together featured collections: How would we organize the table of contents? Finally, formally classifying the articles as “opinion” might act as a chilling factor for some agencies.

For the present at least, JAWRA will be a “lumper,” and call almost everything at Technical Paper.

(For the record, JAWRA has two other categories. One is Technical Notes, for focused comments on a narrow topic. The other is, of course, our periodic Book Reports.)

2009 Impact Factor

Friday, June 18th, 2010

JAWRA went from an impact factor of 1.208 in 2008, to 1.618 in 2009: a 34% improvement! The journal now ranks 18/66 in Water Resources, 18/42 in Engineering, Environmental, and 56/153 in Geosciences.

Thanks to all the authors who wrote those great papers and chose JAWRA as their publication outlet!

Sometimes you find … nothing

Friday, June 11th, 2010

June 2010 Article: Hydrologic and Morphologic Variability of Streams With Different Cranberry Agriculture Histories, Southern New Jersey, United States, by Nicholas A. Procopio.

To facilitate the cultivation and harvest of cranberries, large reservoirs are created upstream of bogs by impounding stream segments. The reservoirs accommodate the large amount of water needed for seasonal harvests, either in late summer or autumn, for winter and spring flooding to prevent against frost, and for irrigation and pest control. Ahah! Sounds like those goofy guys in the TV cranberry advertisements must be doing some big-time environmental damage.

Nicholas A. Procopio looked at this situation in New Jersey by comparing the flow regimes of basins with upstream active-cranberry bogs, upstream abandoned-cranberry bogs, and basins with no apparent agricultural history. His surprising conclusion: It appears that neither historic nor current cranberry agricultural practices considerably influence flow regimes or the channel morphology of streams in the New Jersey Pinelands. It is possible that the magnitude and timing of current diversions and water releases may not be great enough or frequent enough to cause significant alterations of the flow regimes or channel dimensions from condi- tions associated with forested streams.

This article is one of those unusual cases of an interesting negative result. It’s also a reminder that, while intuition has its proper role, we must always keep an open mind and let the facts guide our reasoning.

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

Longitudinal and temporal variations

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

June 2010 Article: A Framework for Analyzing Longitudinal and Temporal Variation in River Flow and Developing Flow-Ecology Relationships, by Scott T. Larned, David B. Arscott, Jochen Schmidt, and Jan C. Diettrich.

A primary aim of this article is to propose tools and ideas with which researchers can explore the emerging field of river ecohydrology. A presumption that index values computed for one gauging site are invariant upstream or downstream is unlikely to be correct; many index values will change in response to longitudinal flow gains and losses, or longitudinal changes in transient storage and flow duration. The authors believe that longitudinal flow variation within river segments has been neglected in fluvial hydrology and ecology, and the ideas and examples in this article are intended to inspire more exploration in the longitudinal dimension.

In the conceptual model framework they propose, hydrologically complex rivers are composed of linear sequences of nested hydrological gradients, which are bordered by hydrogeomorphic discontinuities, and which collectively generate hydrological dynamics at river-section scales. Analyses of flow-ecology relationships for the New Zealand river indicated that fish and benthic and hyporheic invertebrate communities responded strongly to variation in mean annual flow permanence, flow duration, dry duration, drying frequency, inter-flood duration, and distances to flowing reaches.

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

Consumption response to drought

Friday, June 4th, 2010

June 2010 Article: Effects of Urban Spatial Structure, Sociodemographics, and Climage on Residential Water Consumption in Hillsboro, Oregon, by Lily House-Peters, Bethany Pratt, and Heejun Chang.

We often think of the Northwest United States as a wet climate where seasonal outdoor water use would not be a major factor. However Lily House-Peters and her colleagues found this not to be the case. Their findings imply properties with large outdoor spaces are sensitive to variations in climate, especially an increase in summertime temperature, which is widely projected to be an outcome of anthropogenic climate change.

They found individual census blocks that respond with a significantly greater amount of seasonal water usage during a drought period. The census blocks that used the most external water during the summer 2004 had newer and larger homes, higher property values, and more affluent and well-educated residents. Importantly, their results suggest that during periods of low precipitation and higher than average maximum temperatures, seasonal water use tends to be more dependent on physical property variables rather than socioeconomic variables.

Basically, this research means that community design matters. Decisions planners make now will affect water use in the future. One more argument against the unsustainable big-house, big-yard American dream!

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

JAWRA AE for Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Computing

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Soon-Thiam Khu, University of Surrey, UK, as JAWRA Associate Editor for Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Computing. Soon-Thiam called me this morning from China, where he is on travel, and we had an good discussion about how we would like this field to develop. He comes well recommended with an fine publication record, and recently provided an excellent review for JAWRA.

Soon-Thiam, welcome to the team!