Archive for March, 2012

Special Issue on Climate Change Denial

Friday, March 30th, 2012

JAWRA is seeking contributed papers for a forthcoming Special Issue on Climate Change Denial. Tired of so-called “scientists” getting all the publication credit with their fancypants models and data? We’re looking for “researchers” from right-wing think tanks and major corporate public relations centers. Here’s your chance to publish in a first-rate journal that reputable authors actually have cited, at least in the past. Curry favor with your conservative sponsors, whoever they are, before things heat up for everyone to see.

Don’t worry about pesky reviewers demanding “justifications” or “facts.” We plan to seek reviewers from Fox “News,” conspiracy bloggers, and the office of the attorney general of a certain southern commonwealth. They will speedily and uncritically praise papers confirming their views.

Are we selling out? Well, times are tough for honest journals. But at least nobody can say we’re going cheaply. All papers in this Special Issue will incur a supplemental page charge of $20,000 per page, payable to the Editor’s Recreational Fund. What the heck, $30,000: we know you folks have the deep-pockets sponsorship to afford it!

The time frame for submitting a paper is short. But, it’s not like you have to collect and analyze data or anything. All papers are due by COB April 1, 2012. ;-)

Gutsy Call

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Colonel Robert Ruch, USACE, gave the opening talk at the GIS and Water Resources VII conference this week. It reminded me of the days when great engineers like Stephens and Roebling had the daring to stick their necks out to make big, critical decisions. The good colonel did exactly that.

The Missouri River experienced record flooding in 2011. By June, the levee near Hamburg, Iowa, started to collapse. Now, the flood plain here — the one that existed before the levees — is huge, as large as a big reservoir. It would take days to fill, but the Missouri had plenty of water and time to fill it. The Corps’ hydrologists forecast that Hamburg, a full five miles from the river, would come under 10 feet of water, and recommended building an emergency levee.

Now get this picture. Col. Ruch is standing on a highway outside of Hamburg. His hydrologists are telling him a flood is coming, and he needs to spend a couple of million dollars to save the town. But, his boots are perfectly dry, and the river is far away. Should he believe the scientists? In short, Col. Ruch had ample opportunity to rationalize a really stupid decision. Fortunately, he had the integrity and good judgement to trust his staff.

The water finally did come to Hamburg … and stopped inches from the top of the emergency levee. Yea Corps of Engineers and Col. Ruch! Moral of the story: the science works; climate-change deniers, take note.

Back from New Orleans

Friday, March 30th, 2012

I have returned from New Orleans, where AWRA held a great Spring Specialty Conference on GIS and Water Resources VII. Yes, the seventh in this series! Many thanks to Jack Hampson and Sandra Fox for putting together a great program.

Some highlights:

  • Many sessions on the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD). USGS and EPA recently have put a lot of effort into making this an indispensable dataset for the US, a real national treasure.
  • Streamstats. If you are a water engineer working in the US, you want to know about this application from USGS. Based on the NHD, other digital datasets,and sound hydrology, you can get streamflow statistics by pointing to a map.
  • Corps of Engineers. Col. Robert Ruch gave a great presentation on the Missouri River floods of 2011. What struck me is how much the Corps now routinely uses GIS as a resource.

Writer unblocked

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The official JAWRA editorial fountain pen.

My trusty old fountain pen has been discharged from the Mont Blanc pen hospital. They had to transport it to Germany for the operation. It’s like new! They even tightened how the cap fits, to undo 30 years of wear.

Yea Mont Blanc! I can write again!

I recently tried to put together an upcoming talk using only my word processor. Normally, I would start by sketching an outline with my pen. Honestly, it was hard to think, and the online outline looks a mess. May have to start over the old fashioned way!

Associate Editor, Water Quality Monitoring

Friday, March 16th, 2012

I am delighted to announce the appointment of Kenneth H. Reckhow, Professor Emeritus, Duke University as JAWRA Associate Editor for Water Quality Monitoring. Ken is well known to the AWRA community, having published many times in JAWRA. He served on the AWRA Board and even did an earlier stint with JAWRA back in the Randy Boggess days! The timing could not have been better. Ken recently retired after an illustrious career at Duke University, and was looking for a way to stay active in the field. Our good fortune!

I also want to thank the other applicants for this position. That we could attract people of such caliber speaks highly for JAWRA’s reputation. Thanks also to those who helped spread the word about this opening.

A note on the title. Previously, this position was called “Water Quality Research.” In making the announcement, I inadvertently called it “Water Quality Monitoring,” because so many of the assigned papers deal with that subject, which includes TMDL’s. Ken and I agreed the latter title probably would be more descriptive for prospective authors.

Climate blip

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

76 degrees F here at JAWRA World Editorial Headquarters, probably hotter tomorrow. Every window open. Gin and tonics on the balcony tonight! This Saturday is St. Patrick’s Day, but my Irish sweaters look like they will stay in the drawer.

I know it’s only a statistical blip: next year we could have snow at this time. But people are wondering, if it’s this hot in March, what will August bring? When you think about it, climate change, a shift to more variable and more violent weather, probably will announce itself with something memorable. For now, I’ll enjoy the early spring.

ET corrections

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

April 2012 article (Early View):Error Autocorrelation and Linear Regression for Temperature-Based Evapotranspiration Estimates Improvement,” by Patrick Valverde Medeiros, Francisco Fernando Noronha Marcuzzo, Cristián Youlton, and Edson Wendland.

This work describes two correction procedures for potential evapotranspiration estimates by temperature, making the results more reliable. Initially, the standard FAO-Penman-Monteith method was evaluated with a complete climatologic data set for the period between 2002 and 2006. Then temperature-based estimates by Camargo and Jensen-Haise methods have been adjusted by error autocorrelation evaluated in biweekly and monthly periods. In a second adjustment, simple linear regression was applied. The adjusted equations have been validated with climatic data available for the Year 2001. Both proposed methodologies showed good agreement with the standard method indicating that the methodology can be used for local potential evapotranspiration estimates.

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

New England flood frequencies increasing

Monday, March 12th, 2012

April 2012 article (Early View):Increased Frequency of Low-Magnitude Floods in New England,” by William H. Armstrong, Mathias J. Collins, and Noah P. Snyder.

Although catastrophic floods are usually responsible for channel avulsions, stream barrier breaches (e.g., dams), and transporting large bed-load particles, floods occurring every one or two years are more active agents in shaping the prevailing channel dimensions because of their frequency and ability to erode and transport bank and bed material. Frequent, low-magnitude floods are also important for riparian and aquatic habitat.

The authors selected gauges from the USGS Hydro-Climatic Data Network (HCDN), a compilation of river gauges that are minimally affected by human use and are the best available representation of natural streamflow throughout the U.S. They found widespread upward trends in peak over threshold per water year (POT/WY) – a direct measure of increasing flood frequency – on New England rivers. Twenty-two of 23 study gauges selected for climate sensitivity show increasing trends in POT/WY through the analysis of long-term records. They found evidence for a step increase in POT/WY around 1970 on more than half of the rivers, and seven rivers show evidence for a step increase in flood discharge, supporting recent studies noting change points in time series of various hydrologic variables around that time.

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

Collaborative watershed management

Friday, March 9th, 2012

April 2012 article (Early View):Stakeholder Analysis of a Collaborative Watershed Management Process: A Florida Case Study,” by Tatiana Borisova, Laila Racevskis, and Jennison Kipp.

[Straight from a good abstract.] This study focuses on a Florida watershed where development of a total maximum daily load (TMDL) and its implementation plan resulted in conflicts among stakeholders. The overall goal is to build a better understanding of stakeholder perceptions of water quality problems, water policy processes and decisions, and water management plan development in a region where these issues have become contentious. Findings are based on a stakeholder analysis using qualitative data collected through focus groups with agricultural producers, local governments, and environmental groups, and supplemented with additional qualitative data on the watershed management process. Stakeholder conflicts in this case study are associated with perceived flaws in the structural and procedural characteristics of the stakeholder involvement process: (1) suboptimal watershed stakeholder representation on the TMDL executive committee, (2) an inappropriate voting procedure for making TMDL decisions, (3) limitations in information sharing between regulatory agencies and watershed stakeholders, and (4) stakeholders’ doubts about whether tradeoffs associated with achieving the water quality targets were assessed adequately throughout the TMDL planning and implementation process. This study contributes to the literature on collaborative watershed management by analyzing stakeholder involvement given Florida’s unique institutional settings, where implementation of TMDL pollution abatement is mandatory.

Composite efficiency indicators

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

April 2012 article (Early View):Macro, Meso, and Micro-Efficiencies in Water Resources Management: A New Framework Using Water Balance,” by Naim Hale and Andrew A. Keller.

In this paper, performance composite indicators are developed in order to determine efficiency using water balance. Total flow used in this law of conservation of mass can be total inflow into a water resources system (WRS) or total consumption out of it. It is important to use both of these two types when conducting any systems analysis and design. But in order to expand the utility of the indicators so that decision makers can use them, this paper goes beyond the pure hydrology of a WRS and employs an important concept called “Usefulness Criterion,” which is incorporated into the water balance through a logical approach. In this process, two dimensions are identified: one deals with the quality and the other with the beneficial use of water. Both of these are determined through weights given by the manager based on physical characteristics of used and reused water, system quality, and management goals. Management goals are particularly relevant because, for example, a decision maker or a consultant should decide on the acceptable salt tolerance for an irrigation system design or acceptable pollution for the downstream ecosystem. In this regard it should be noted that societies and political processes are getting involved in making judgments concerning the use of water, that is, what constitutes a reasonable beneficial use, which then should be incorporated into the weights.

After these preliminary definitions, 3ME “ (Macro, Meso, and Micro-Efficiencies) result:?are described for a WRS based on two total flow types for water balance that incorporates different scales, flow paths, and Usefulness Criterion. MacroE links the system to the main water body of a river basin such as a river, while MicroE is of prime importance to the subsystems, such as an urban or agricultural area. The MesoE represents an analysis of the situations that are happening between MacroE and MicroE and the flows that occur between the two. Consequently, these three levels are of interest to different stakeholders within a river basin.

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