Archive for October, 2013

Getting ready for Portland

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Busy day ahead today, finishing up manuscripts before leaving for Portland, Oregon, where AWRA will hold its Annual Conference next week. It should be a fairly big meeting, over 500 attendees. With six tracks of presentations at some points, I certainly will be moving around! I hope to see some of you out there!

I’m going out a little early to visit family on the left coast. I’ll have my trusty laptop to deal with urgent matters. Whether I will have the time to process more routine work is another matter. We will catch up, as usual, when I return.

Arc StormSurge

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Early View article:Arc StormSurge: Integrating Hurricane Storm Surge Modeling and GIS,” by Celso M. Ferreira, Francisco Olivera, Jennifer L. Irish.

Here’s a timely article on using a new piece of technology.

Historical records of storms are too short and too sparse to support reliable statistical predictions of hurricane surge levels; thus, numerical analysis is used for simulating and predicting flooding in coastal areas. In recent years, improvements in the understanding of the physics of storm surge processes have led to the development of computationally intense hydrodynamic models capable of estimating hurricane flood elevations. However, developing the input to these models requires a significant amount of data and conversion to a model-specific format, and, usually, the model output is not in a format ready for interpretation and for conveying the findings to the public and decision makers. In this context, geographic information systems (GIS) can play an important role in pre- and post-processing spatial information and supporting input/output visualization.
This article discusses the development of an ArcGIS™ data model and a set of tools for the coupled ADvanced CIRCulation and unstructured-grid version of Simulating WAves Nearshore (SWAN+ADCIRC) hydrodynamic and wave models, respectively. An automated file conversion between ArcGIS™ and the model formats is used to ease the preparation of the input files. Visualization of the results is accomplished through maps, generated automatically with ArcGIS™. As part of this working framework, the authors propose the use of a geodatabase specifically designed to store the spatial information needed for modeling storm surges with SWAN+ADCIRC. An example of the application of their framework to the simulation of the storm surge of 1999′s Hurricane Bret in Corpus Christi, Texas, is also included to demonstrate the utility of Arc StormSurge

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

River meets the lake

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Early View article:Modeling the Fate and Transport of Plunging Inflows to Onondaga Lake,” Emmet M. Owens, Steven W. Effler, David M. O’Donnell, and David A. Matthews.

When a river flows into a lake, we’re tempted to treat the lake as a completely mixed reactor. Here’s another article warning this is not necessarily so.

(Abstract:) “The transport and fate of two plunging tributaries, Onondaga and Ninemile Creeks, in Onondaga Lake, New York, are quantified based on application of hydrodynamic/transport models. Short-term transport is simulated with a three-dimensional Estuary Lake and Coastal Ocean Model (ELCOM), while the longer term fate is represented by a previously validated one-dimensional model (UFILS4). The validation of ELCOM for the vertical distribution of tributary inflow into the lake’s water column is demonstrated for four dye tracer experiments. The models are applied for three years to represent the dynamics of transport and fate for the two tributaries, with ELCOM predictions serving as input for UFILS4. The models together quantify the distribution of these inflows between the upper mixed layer (UML) and stratified depths, and the subsequent transport from stratified depths to the UML by vertical mixing. Substantial short-term variations are predicted for both tributaries in response to variability in hydrology and weather. Increased inflow to the UML is predicted for high runoff periods. The fraction of Ninemile Creek’s inflow directly entering the UML is predicted to be 50% greater than for Onondaga Creek due to Ninemile’s lower negative buoyancy. The plunging phenomenon has important water quality implications, by reducing the effective loading to the UML, particularly for constituents with large rates of loss/transformation relative to the rate of vertical transport from stratified depths.”

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

Hydrocarbons in aquifers

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Early View article:Statistical Evaluation of Variables Affecting Occurrence of Hydrocarbons in Aquifers Used for Public Supply, California,” by Matthew K. Landon, Carmen A. Burton, Tracy A. Davis, Kenneth Belitz, and Tyler D. Johnson.

The variables affecting the occurrence of hydrocarbons in aquifers used for public supply in California were assessed based on statistical evaluation of three large statewide datasets; gasoline oxygenates also were analyzed for comparison with hydrocarbons. Benzene is the most frequently detected (1.7%) compound among 17 hydrocarbons analyzed at generally low concentrations in groundwater used for public supply in California; methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) is the most frequently detected (5.8%) compound among seven oxygenates analyzed. At aquifer depths used for public supply, hydrocarbons and MTBE rarely co-occur and are generally related to different variables; in shallower groundwater, co-occurrence is more frequent and there are similar relations to the density or proximity of potential sources.

Multiple lines of evidence indicate that benzene and other hydrocarbons detected in old, deep, and/or brackish groundwater result from geogenic sources of oil and gas. However, in recently recharged (since ~1950), generally shallower groundwater, higher concentrations and detection frequencies of benzene and hydrocarbons were associated with a greater proportion of commercial land use surrounding the well, likely reflecting effects of anthropogenic sources, particularly in combination with reducing conditions.

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

Hydropower vs. municipal supply

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Early View article:Relative Value of Water for Hydropower and Municipal Supply in Southeastern Reservoirs,” by David H. Moreau.

(Another good abstract tells the story:) “Population growth in the Southeast has driven withdrawals for municipal water beyond the limits of local supplies. With few options left for development of virgin sources, a number of urban areas are looking toward demand management and additional supplies by reallocating storage in reservoirs that were built primarily or in part for hydropower. Hydropower has become a lesser part of the mix of energy sources, and the question arises as to value of water for that purpose relative to its value for municipal use. Three cases are used to examine the issue. Effects of withdrawal for municipal water supply on output of electric energy are estimated. Benefits of foregone energy are evaluated using the least cost alternative for replacement, and benefits for municipal water are estimated using costs for development of new sources. Benefits for use as municipal water are found to be considerably higher than benefits for hydroelectric energy at existing prices, even higher than the least cost alternative for replacement. Given the spatial distribution of the cases, that finding would appear to hold in general across the region.”

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

LiDAR elevations for playa wetlands

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Early View article:Capturing LiDAR-Derived Hydrologic Spatial Parameters to Evaluate Playa Wetlands,” by Zhenghong Tang Assistant, Ruopu Li Adjunc, Xu Li , Weiguo Jiang, and Aaron Hirsh.

(Good abstract:) “The digital elevation model data from traditional stereo photogrammetric methods are inadequate in providing accurate vertical parameters to feed hydrologic models for low-lying, extremely flat areas. High-resolution light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data provide the robust capability of capturing small variations in low-relief playa wetlands. The Rainwater Basin in south-central Nebraska includes a complex of seasonally shallow playa wetlands that attract millions of migratory waterfowl every spring and fall. This research focuses on the development of a procedure with applicable protocols to produce LiDAR-derived three-dimensional wetland maps and to extract the critical surface parameters (i.e., watershed boundaries, flow direction, flow accumulation, and drainage lines) for playa wetlands. The topo-hydrologic conditions of playa wetlands were evaluated at the watershed level. The results show that in the Rainwater Basin, 70.7% of the historic hydric soil footprints identified in the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) database were not functioning as topographically depressional wetlands. This finding was confirmed by a recent five-year Annual Habit Survey showing that 69.8% of the historic hydric soil footprints did not function during the spring migratory bird seasons between 2004 and 2009. The majority of playa wetlands’ topographic conditions have been substantially changed and the SSURGO data cannot fully reflect current topographic reality in the Rainwater Basin.”

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

SWAT source area comparison

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Early View article:Application of SWAT with and without Variable Source Area Hydrology to a Large Watershed,” by Joshua D. Woodbury, Christine A. Shoemaker, Zachary M. Easton, and Dillon M. Cowan.

In this study, two different versions of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model were used to simulate the hydrology and biogeochemical response of the Cannonsville Reservoir watershed, in New York. The first version distributes overland flow in ways that are consistent with variable source area (VSA) hydrology driven by saturation excess runoff, whereas the second version is the standard version of SWAT. These two models were each calibrated for streamflow, particulate phosphorus , total dissolved phosphorus, and sediment against measured data from the 1,200 km2 Cannonsville watershed. THe authors found that, at the watershed outlet both models perform equally well. This result may be due to the extensive use of automated optimization for parameter estimation as well as the size of the watershed relative to the available data.

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

Back to work.

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Finally, the government shutdown is over. Looking at our S1 queues, we have a few manuscripts circling in holding patterns. Overall, though, we’re not too bad. Most manuscripts should be back on schedule within a week or two.

Some furloughed workers may come back to work and find dunning notices from S1 sitting in your email. They’re automatically generated. Just do your best to catch up. Welcome back!


Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Yesterday in this blog, I used the term, “bunch of complete fools or congressmen.” I’m sorry. It was an inappropriate slur to compare the two. Complete fools, please accept my apology. The shutdown continues.

Open Access Scams

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

If you’ve received an invitation to publish in or to join the “editorial board” of some open access journal you’ve never heard of, you need to know about the Scholarly Open Access blog. Run by Jeffrey Beall of Denver, Colorado, it is a wonderful source for outing the crooks who would corrupt our publishing industry.

The scams seem to pop up every day: A publisher introducing 40 new “International” or “American” journals of whatever. Flattering spam goes out to the universe. Addresses, purporting to be in prestigious US locations, actually forward to parts unknown. To create the illusion of stability with back issues, some even copy (i.e., steal) articles from real journals to pad their websites! Names of Editorial Board members are made up or used without permission; one journal listed an editor from Michigan as “Dr. Ann Arbor.” Peer review? Coincidence, maybe, but their acceptance rates approach 100 percent. Some even let you purchase an optional “best paper” award.

Beall continues to compile his lists despite occasional letters from publisher’s “lawyers” threatening zillion dollar lawsuits. The legal gobbledegook, which no real lawyer would use, sometimes is hilarious. The whole thing is entertaining, but also chilling in that too many people seem to be falling into the traps.

Unless your tenure committee is a bunch of complete fools or congressmen (same thing?), publishing in these pseudo journals might be seen as a negative, a sign of desperation or naivety. So, next time you get one of these invitations, go to Beall’s blog and check first.