Water News

Not-so-new Water News can still be useful. Some of our links are only promoted on the sidebar for a short time, so this is where you can browse through past links that we considered to be news-worthy.

USGS: A Review of Surface Energy Balance Models for Estimating Actual Evapotranspiration With Remote Sensing at High Spatiotemporal Resolution Over Large Extents

The biggest challenge in closing a water balance for a watershed has always been quantification of evapotranspiration. It is so difficult to get an accurate estimate that it is often assigned as the residual of known inputs minus known outputs. However, with a changing climate driving hydrological processes in changing landscapes, it is becoming increasingly important to have a measure of ET that is defensible. The USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5087 is a valuable reference for the current state of the art of ET modeling.

Phytoforensics – Using Trees to Find Contamination

The premise of this approach is interesting. Why restrict our groundwater sampling to boreholes that are expensive to establish? Trees are continuously sampling their root zone and bringing that water to the surface. Why not just sample the trees to find groundwater contamination?

Patterns of Change in High Frequency Precipitation Variability Over North America

Much of the research into climate change focuses on the impact of low frequency extreme events. This paper looks at the other end of the frequency spectrum – high frequency events characterized by statistics such as fraction of wet days in a year and average duration of wet and dry periods. High frequency events are changing and these changes are larger and more prevalent than those associated with extremes. These are important concepts to consider when deciding how to report out on your monitoring data to provide meaningful, impactful information for your stakeholders.

Building the First Global Hydrological Status and Outlook System

Scientists converged in Entebbe, Uganda two weeks ago to scope out a four-year plan to deliver the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS), an operational system capable of assessing hydrological variability on a global scale. HydroSOS will use a combination of local ground-based data, global scale remotely-sensed satellite data, global/regional/national weather and climate forecast models, and global hydrological models to help inform government bodies, regional and international aid agencies, and affected populations through their National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of expected flood or drought situations.

Remote Measurement of River Discharge Using Thermal Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) and Various Sources of Bathymetric Information

This proof-of-concept study proposes an autonomous discharge measurement platform using a combination of thermal and optical imaging in combination with site-specific corrections for surface velocity. Thermal imaging was used for velocity measurement. Under favourable conditions, spectrally-based bathymetric mapping produced good results. For unfavourable conditions (i.e. large, turbid streams), an alternative approach was evaluated based on relationships between depth and length scales of turbulent fluctuations in temperature.

FAIR Data – Principles to Make Data Findable, Accesible, Interoperable and Re-Usable


F1. (meta)data are assigned a globally unique and eternally persistent identifier.

F2. data are described with rich metadata.

F3. (meta)data are registered or indexed in a searchable resource.

F4. metadata specify the data identifier.


A1  (meta)data are retrievable by their identifier using a standardized communications protocol.

A1.1 the protocol is open, free, and universally implementable.

A1.2 the protocol allows for an authentication and authorization procedure, where necessary.

A2 metadata are accessible, even when the data are no longer available.


I1. (meta)data use a formal, accessible, shared, and broadly applicable language for knowledge representation.

I2. (meta)data use vocabularies that follow FAIR principles.

I3. (meta)data include qualified references to other (meta)data.


R1. meta(data) have a plurality of accurate and relevant attributes.

R1.1. (meta)data are released with a clear and accessible data usage license.

R1.2. (meta)data are associated with their provenance.

R1.3. (meta)data meet domain-relevant community standards.

Internal Phosphorus Loading in Canadian Fresh Waters: A Critical Review and Data Analysis

Harmful algal blooms and eutrophication are highly associated with nutrient loading, and efforts have been made to improve treatment of nutrient-rich wastewater. However, the benefits of such treatments are not immediate. This paper synthesizes and analyzes the available knowledge on phosphorus recycling in Canadian fresh waters. An improved understanding of the role of residual phosphorus is essential for developing realistic expectations for investments in restoration and recovery and an improved understanding of the implications of further delay of such treatments.

Identifying and Preserving High-Water Mark Data

These are extraordinary times and conventional monitoring techniques sometimes fail in extraordinary conditions. This new Surface-Water Techniques book from the USGS (Techniques and Methods 3–A24) should be studied by every hydrographer in preparation for the next big event.

Detection of Sea Level Fingerprints Derived from GRACE Gravity Data

This is kind of a big deal. The bulk transfer of water stored in ice to water stored in oceans (resulting in sea level rise) has resulted in signatures that are measurable from space. Attribution of cause for any given effect is one of the most difficult things to do in the natural sciences. It shouldn’t be this easy.

Great Waters Challenge

What would happen if our schools, streets, and public spaces became a place for conversations around our water? Youth are currently taking charge in leading water celebrations across communities in Canada! Registration is now open for new teams.

Help Desk for Drought-Impacted Populations

Water insecurity is a 500 billion USD problem causing more death and displacement than cyclones, floods, and earthquakes combined. To promote more proactive policies, the WMO has launched a new help desk to enable stakeholders to access extensive knowledge resources and to contact experts directly for advice. The intent is to educate for building drought resilience and inform for drought mitigation.

U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Strategy – Observing, Understanding, Predicting, and Delivering Water Science to the Nation

There has never been a time when a clear strategy for communication of water science has been more important. The dual threat of climate change and rapid human intrusion into sensitive landscapes both creates new problems and exacerbates risk exposure. Guidance for the difficult decisions that are needed to protect people, the environment, and the economy should be based on data-driven science and should not default to social media. A consensus of badly informed opinions should not be the basis of public policy. Fortunately, the USGS is very good at providing science for a changing world. This 64-page document should be studied by monitoring agencies all over the world.

Colorado River Data Visualization Challenge

The Bureau of Reclamation is partnering with 4 other agencies and looking to crowdsourcing solutions to improve data visualization using multiple datasets. They are offering a prize for the winning solution. Watch the video as they clearly articulate the problem they are trying to solve and their motivation and aspiration for solving it.