Blog

2016 challenges and opportunities in hydrometry graphic.

Incremental change is an insidious thing. Like a frog in a pot of water on the stove it can be difficult to know what is going on when your attention is moment-to-moment. It could be that from day-to-day there is no noticeable change but year-to-year there is major change and decade-to-decade there is transformative change. The business of water monitoring is vastly different than when...

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Graphic of water processes and policies for YVR.

We usually report water quantity information as a volumetric rate (e.g. m3/s); we usually report water quality information as a concentration (e.g. mg/l); and we usually report precipitation as a length (e.g. mm). But we don’t have to. The mass of water is related to its volume by its density which, conveniently, can be assumed to be unity (1). This means that we could just...

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The Wivenhoe Dam in Queensland, Australia.

I have written previously about risk mitigation in the context of the L’Aquila earthquake and a panel discussion about the Wivenhoe Dam case at the HWRS conference has brought many of the underlying issues to the forefront yet again. At issue is who can judge and who should have the power to judge the action of experts in the wake of disasters?...

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Hydrology Water Resources Symposium 2015 banner.

Rob Vertessy CEO of the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) gave a very engaging keynote address this morning at the Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium in Hobart Tasmania. Dr. Vertessy is an unusual choice Director of Meteorology at BOM in that his PhD is in fluvial geomorphology. I personally think his background complements and enhances the power of meteorological analysis by way of his ability to...

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Internet of things graphic.

In my Hallowe’en post I presented various ways in which better rigor in tracking data provenance can do many things — up to and including — saving the world during a zombie apocalypse. Today, I would like to focus on a much more immediate and pragmatic benefit of improving traceability of data to source. Our negligence in communicating and preserving primary and intermediate states of our...

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Beaver in the grass.

Canada was built on the back of beavers but — much to the chagrin of stream gaugers ever since — beavers managed to outlive the fashion of top hats. After the end of the fur trade, beavers started to re-populate the north with impunity. Anyone unlucky enough to have the responsibility of stream gauging on a beaver infested stream knows how difficult it is to produce...

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Big data, small numbers illustration.

Drought is a large-scale problem. Droughts of high severity, long duration, and broad spatial extent happen infrequently enough that ecological and economic dependencies on water are bound to develop during the between-drought intervals. The trick for drought resilient societies is to develop a long-term memory that serves to limit over-enthusiastic exploitation of water resources when water supply is relatively abundant. Most indigenous societies that are highly...

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