Archive for July, 2012

Hot Minnesota

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

The JAWRA blog was quiet this past week, as I was attending a family reunion at Timber Trail Lodge, near Ely, Minnesota. Seemed like everybody up north was talking about the unusually warm weather. The fierce Minnesota winter was a no-show.  Lakes that normally are perennially chilly now are comfortably swimmable.

Long-time fishing guide and family friend Gene Hicks said the fishing was as bad as he’d ever seen it. Walleyes and other cold-water game fish are showing signs of stress. He feared the Boundary Waters lakes may become dominated by warmer water species like bass.

One year doesn’t make a statistical trend, but the folks up north have become skeptical of the industry spokespersons and their paid politicians who say there is nothing to worry about. Climate change? You bet!

Stream susceptibility to hydromodification

Friday, July 20th, 2012

August 2012 article (early view): “Framework and Tool for Rapid Assessment of Stream Susceptibility to Hydromodification,” by Brian P. Bledsoe, Eric D. Stein, Robert J. Hawley, and Derek Booth.

The typical ‘‘one-size-fits-all’’ management prescription of flow control with retention or detention basins has not been wholly effective, pointing to a need for improved management strategies and tools for mitigating the impacts of ‘‘hydromodification.’’ The authors present an approach for developing screening- level tools for assessing channel susceptibility to hydromodification, and describe a novel tool for rapid, field- based assessments of the relative susceptibility of stream segments. A combination of relatively simple, but quantitative, field indicators are used as input parameters for a set of decision trees that follow a logical progression in assigning categorical susceptibility ratings to the channel segment being assessed.

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

Tree-ring chronologies

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

2012 article (early view): “Reconstructions of Soil Moisture for the Upper Colorado River Basin Using Tree-Ring Chronologies,” by SallyRose Anderson, Glenn Tootle, and Henri Grissino-Mayer.

The authors used tree-ring chronologies to reconstruct annual soil moisture in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB). Their results suggest that tree-ring chronologies can be used as proxy records of past soil moisture. Reconstructed soil moisture could augment understanding of paleoenvironments and improve understanding of the relationship between surface moisture and the atmosphere. Their results indicate a strong relationship between soil moisture and other hydrologic variables (streamflow, snowpack). Soil moisture reconstructions could help verify existing hydrologic reconstructions in the UCRB and around the world.

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

Shopping previous rejections

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

I know authors sometimes send a manuscript to the most prestigious journal they think will accept it. Shoot for the stars! If a rejection follows, they move down the food chain to lower Impact Factor journals. JAWRA has moved a bit higher on the food chain, but I know we sometimes get the leftovers, so to speak.

Journals have lots of reasons for rejecting papers, some good, some not so good. JAWRA’s turned down manuscripts not because they were bad science but because they didn’t fit our multidisciplinary interests. And, authors often learn from a rejection and fix the problems found by earlier reviewers. So, bottom line: I’m quite willing to look at a manuscript another journal has rejected. BUT … I want to know a manuscript’s history, so I can make an informed decision!

It’s important for an editor to trust the honesty and openness of an author. Providing a brief history of a manuscript in a cover letter is a good way to establish that trust. It also gives you a chance to explain how you fixed problems found in previous submittals. Having reviewers point out to me a manuscript’s undisclosed prior history is not cool. Red flags go up, trust flies out the window, and you better believe we check over the manuscript upside and downside. The default becomes rejection.

Estimating E. coli sources

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

August 2012 article (early view): “Estimating Potential E. coli Sources in a Watershed Using Spatially Explicit Modeling Techniques,” by K.J. Riebschleager, R. Karthikeyan, R. Srinivasan, amd K. McKee.

The authors automated the Spatially Explicit Load Enrichment Calculation Tool (SELECT) to characterize waste and the associated pathogens from various sources within a mixed land use watershed. SELECT is a user-friendly tool to conduct spatial analysis under different land use scenarios. In addition to this, maps and tables resulting from SELECT can be used for technical and educational communication. This approach proves the need to evaluate each contaminant source separately to effectively allocate site specific BMPs and serves as a powerful screening tool for determining areas where detailed investigation is merited.

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

Channel evolution

Monday, July 16th, 2012

August 2012 article (early view): “Channel Evolution Model of Semiarid Stream Response to Urban-Induced Hydromodification,” by Robert J. Hawley, Brian P. Bledsoe, Eric D. Stein, and Brian E. Haines.

Channel evolution

The authors present a novel channel evolution model (CEM) that qualitatively describes morphologic responses of semiarid channels to altered hydrologic and sediment regimes associated with urbanization (hydromodification). The CEM is based on southern California data from 83 detailed channel surveys, hundreds of synoptic surveys, and historical analyses of aerial photographs along 14 reaches. Thresholds and risk factors associated with observed channel response are also presented.

By including a quantitative extension to the CEM that assesses the relative departure from single-thread equilibrium reference form, the degree of channel instability was explained via dimensionless stability schemes in the vertical (Ng) and lateral dimensions (Nw). Multivariate regression of these variables identified risk factors for whether a channel may incise (e.g., located far upstream from a grade control) or braid (e.g., wide valley), highlighting the need for watershed managers to account for these boundary conditions when assessing channel susceptibility to hydromodification.

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

2011 odds of acceptance

Friday, July 13th, 2012

All 2011 manuscripts are in late stages of review, so we are able to estimate some statistics of interest to potential authors: (2010 numbers are in parentheses.)

  • 47% of manuscripts were accepted (vs. 58% in 2010)
  • 27% were rejected after review, or were withdrawn (21%); and
  • 25% were returned without review (27%).

Time-to-first-decision for reviewed manuscripts (i.e. excluding those returned without review) was a median 98 days, with 90% decided within 137 days. Our median time went up slightly, but our 90th percentile was down. 76% of reviewed manuscripts met our target of 120 days to first decision.

Plunging stream in an urban lake

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

August 2012 article (early view): “Observations and Modeling of Stream Plunging in an Urban Lake,” by Emmet M. Owens, Steven W. Effler, Anthony R. Prestigiacomo, David A. Matthews, and Susan M. O’Donnell.

Plunging stream

This article quantified the plunging behavior of two tributaries in Onondaga Lake, New York, based on a program of monitoring, process studies, and modeling. The model provides critical information to support rehabilitation programs for the lake by quantifying the transport of the two largest tributaries, particularly the distribution of the loads between the upper waters and stratified layers.

More robust representations of variations in the fate and transport of these negatively buoyant inflows can be developed by applying the tested model for representative conditions that include seasonal and runoff event-based stream buoyancy and lake stratifi- cation, based on historic monitoring data. The integrated monitoring, process study, and modeling approaches presented here have broad applicability for the many lakes and reservoirs that experience plunging inflows.

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

BANCS model

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

August 2012 article (early view): “Application of Rosgen’s BANCS Model for NE Kansas and the Development of Predictive Streambank Erosion Curves,” by Christopher K. Sass and Tim D. Keane.

Bank profile

This study sought to provide a tool that accurately predicts annual streambank erosion rates in NE Kansas. Bank profiles were overlaid to calculate toe pin area change due to erosional processes. Streambanks experienced varied erosion rates from similar Bank Erosion Hazard Index (BEHI)-Near Bank Stress (NBS) combinations producing R2 values of 0.77 High-Very High BEHI rating and 0.75 Moderate BEHI rating regarding predictive erosion curves for NE Kansas.

Vegetation seems to play a vital role in maintaining bank stability in this region of Northeast Kansas. Assessing the original BEHI-NBS erosion prediction curves for Northeast Kansas illustrated something was not being accounted for, or not counted for enough, in our application of the model. Low R**2 values along with inverted expected erosion rates confirmed this notion. Erosion rates then plot- ted against both BEHI score and NBS rating with each site’s woody vegetation cover showed a clustering of sites with woody vegetation vs. sites without. Thus, the vegetation portion of the BEHI was modified and simplified, which resulted in consistent R**2 values and correct order of the BEHI adjective ratings.

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

Ensemble streamflow forecasts

Monday, July 9th, 2012

August 2012 article (early view): “Generation of Ensemble Streamflow Forecasts Using an Enhanced Version of the Snowmelt Runoff Model,” by Brian J. Harshburger, Von P. Walden, Karen S. Humes, Brandon C. Moore, Troy R. Blandford, and Albert Rango.

The authors describe a method for generating ensemble streamflow forecasts (1-15 days) using an enhanced version of the snowmelt runoff model (SRM). Forecasts are produced for three snowmelt-dominated basins in Idaho. Model inputs are derived from meteorological forecasts, snow cover imagery, and surface observations from Snowpack Telemetry stations. The model performed well at lead times up to 7 days, but has significant predictability out to 15 days. The results validate the usefulness of the ensemble forecasting approach for basins of this type, suggesting that the ensemble version of SRM might be applied successfully to other basins in the Intermountain West.

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