I have had the great pleasure of several decades of overlap of my career with that of Lynne Campo who retired on June 28th after 49 years of hydrometric data management for the Water Survey of Canada (WSC). I first met Lynne as a novice stream hydrographer in 1981 when I was sent to Vancouver for training in the art and science of hydrometric data processing. In a few short days Lynne laid out the foundation for the rest of my career.
Hydrology field work done today, if managed well, becomes part of a legacy of information that will serve for generations to come. As an avid canoeist and whitewater kayaker I was easily drawn into a career in hydrometry in spite of an undergraduate education in biology. Shortly after graduating from the University of Alaska I started work with the Water Survey of Canada in Whitehorse, Yukon. The initial appeal was the freedom to travel extensively to some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet to measure streamflow. The highlight of my career was measuring 7040 m3s-1 of flow on the Porcupine River using a small, under-powered, aluminum skiff, kevlar tagline and a 150 pound sounding weight. It took 4 tries to string the line, while uprooted trees and large ice floes came down the river. I am guilty of being a data philosopher. I think we have to first be able to clearly articulate what an ideal data set should look like and then we can influence the direction of technological development to make that ideal achievable.
There’s a certain amount of comfort in knowing that tomorrow will be familiar. Familiar routines, familiar opportunities and familiar challenges are all welcome because the only alternative, creating new experiences, is unpredictable. People are risk-averse and we like predictability. This is true whether we are a hydrometric agency needing to modernize or an individual embarking…
I am very happy to announce that the paper: The Role of the Hydrographer in Rating Curve Development has now been published in Confluence: Journal of Watershed Science and Management. Marianne Watson, Robin Pike, and I all learned a lot from each other in the process of writing this paper, resulting in a product that is greater than the sum of the inputs.
Laboratory analysis of a water quality sample links a lot of data to a singular point in time and space. However, the objectives for monitoring may span scales from point (e.g. at an outfall) to watershed (e.g. to characterize waters; identify trends; assess threats; inform pollution control; guide environmental emergency response; and support the development, implementation, and assessment of policies and regulations).
Evidence-based decision-making is a useful framework for the development of policies and practices to ensure water security, ecosystem resilience, and productive societies. The term “evidence-based” is gradually yielding to the term “data-driven” as focus shifts from specified data (i.e. fit-for purpose) to data discovery (i.e. big data) as the source of evidence.
I was recently asked to explain why I recommend starting from a value of 1 (i.e., unity) as a first guess for the velocity coefficient for unconstrained alluvial channels. This probably does deserve an explanation (or 4) because I’ve never heard anyone else recommend the unity conjecture, in spite of the inherent elegance of such simplicity.
A new report, “Future Water Priorities for the Nation: Directions for the U.S. Geological Survey Water Mission Area,” speaks to water science and resources challenges for the next 25 years. While written specifically for the Water Mission Area (WMA) for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the driving forces for change are applicable to any region of the world.
The African continent is characterized by diverse geographic features, climates, and cultures but a common denominator is that African nations are working hard to improve social stability, economic security, public health, and environmental sustainability. Solutions emerging from various political adventures seem to be evolving toward a mix of governance approaches sourced from the west (based on an ideal of democratic capitalism) and those sourced from the east (based on an ideal of progressive socialism).
Water has always been important. The perception of its importance is closely linked to episodes of too much, too little, or the wrong quality. Climate change, urban growth, and agricultural intensification are just three examples of pressures that are contributing to an unprecedented global awareness of the importance of water.