Stu Hamilton
Stu Hamilton

Senior Hydrologist

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.

Hydrometric Workforce - hydrology corner blog

Do you have enough bananas?

The rejuvenation of the hydrometric workforce is apparent everywhere I look. The bi-modal demographic of pre-retirees and new recruits is rapidly changing to a positive-skew, long tail, age distribution. This is both exciting and worrisome. The long tail of experienced veterans is continually getting shorter. What is left is a cadre of (mostly) young, very…

A New Frontier – Rating Curves from Space?

Early in my career, frequent field visits were necessary to wind the recorder clock; flush the intakes; replace the paper chart; and keep the pen ink reservoir full. Modern gauging technology is much more reliable so the requirement for frequent field visits is primarily to obtain rating measurements. Station health can be monitored remotely; data…

Real or Not? Discharge as a Virtual Variable

Discharge is such a great variable It is so rich in information about everything that has happened upstream and so informative about what will be happening downstream. The dynamics of streamflow are tightly linked to both ecosystem function and economic viability. If only discharge data were real. Beven and Westerberg (2011) argue that “some periods…

virtual observatories

Virtual Observatories and Snakes in the Grass

I ended my last post “Amazing GRACE” with a segue to virtual observatories with a call to “… start thinking about our methods of measurement and data management to figure how to combine what remote sensing does well (extensive coverage) with what field observations do well (high resolution).” Virtual observatories are a blend of the…

rock snot algae - Water Quality

Is Rock Snot Affecting Your Rating Curve?

Didymo is a northern circumpolar species preferring cold, clear water. It is spreading rapidly with the primary mode of dispersion suspected to be contaminated fishing/wading gear. It is a problematic invasive species because it’s effect on the food web of a stream starting with the displacement of common macro invertebrates and native alga. Attempts to…

bewl water reservoir drought

Making Connections: Where Does Your Water Come From?

My previous post was in response to an argument against the proliferation of dams and diversions. Therefore I should also offer a response to this diametrically opposite perspective written by Richard Black, in the article “Drought summit: Why not pipe the water from north to south?”, calling for engineered solutions to droughts in southern England….

Man vs Nature – Aqueduct vs Stream: Monitoring, Understanding and Protecting

Aqueducts are to natural streams what wheat fields are to tall grass prairies. There is an undeniable elegance in form that comes from simplification of function to unity. Whereas any pristine stream serves many ecological, geomorphic, social, spiritual and economic functions, an aqueduct exists for the sole function of moving water from one place to…

The Future of Water Data Sharing – Discoverable, Searchable and Accessible

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) is seeking public comment on part 1 of the new WaterML 2.0 data standard for time-series data encoding Aquatic Informatics is actively participating in the Hydrological Domain Working Group, which has a mandate from both the OGC and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), to explore issues of hydrological data interoperability….