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.

2016:  January  |  February  |  March  |  April  |  May  |  June
2015:  November |  December

Water News: July 2016

Tropical Winds Yield Late-July Record Warmth

Temperatures in the New Zealand winter this year are looking more like a balmy summer’s day. Weather anomalies are the new normal. Pretty soon it will only be newsworthy to report on weather that isn’t unusual in some way – “Breaking news: the weather is close to the historic mean!” – Stu Hamilton

Historical Records Miss a Fifth of Global Warming: NASA

Systematic global bias in historic monitoring networks have resulted in an under-estimation of the rate of global warming. Surface monitoring networks, while very useful for local-scale purposes, apparently don’t scale well for monitoring the global climate. – Stu Hamilton

Huge Toxic Algae Bloom Sickens More Than 100 in Utah Amid Heatwave

There are several factors that result in toxic algal blooms that can be either mitigated or prevented by effective water management. Time and time again, we need to be reminded that we can manage what we measure. If we need to manage nutrient loading in receiving water we need to measure both nutrient concentrations and flow in source waters. – Stu Hamilton

Global Climate Breaks New Records January to June 2016

June 2016 marked the 14th consecutive month of record heat for land and oceans. It marked the 378th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th Century average. Carbon dioxide concentrations have passed the symbolic milestone 0f 400 parts per million. Arctic sea ice extent in September (the annual minima) has been declining at 13.4% per decade. – Stu Hamilton

Thirty Million

This 34-minute video about water and climate change would be a good one to share with your colleagues. As a suggestion: book a room for at lunch time and invite everyone to watch it while they eat. Plan on including some time for discussion after the video ends. – Stu Hamilton

Toxic Algae in Florida

High water temperature and nutrient rich water are causing major problems. I like the closing quote, “It’s a hydrological mess right now but it’s not unsolvable.” The US Senate is considering a bill to spend $1 billion to help rehabilitate the natural hydrology in South Florida on top of the $5 billion the State plans to allocate over the next 20 years. – Stu Hamilton

Saving the Great Barrier Reef

Need to improve water quality with an investment of AUD 1,000,000,000 per year for the next 10 years. – Stu Hamilton

Slow Onset Emergencies

As we transition from a strong El Nino to a weak La Nina the United Nations is emphasizing the importance of preparing for the inevitable consequences of above average rainfall in some areas and potential drought in other areas. – Stu Hamilton

Atmospheric River of Moisture Heading for New Zealand

NIWA reports a series of low pressure systems tracking across the Tasman creating a risk of flooding on the North Island. Lots of gauging to be done before the week is out! – Stu Hamilton

The Future of Fresh Water

The World Resources institute has mapped future water risk scenarios base in IPCC projections for climate change and socioeconomic development. They claim that 52% of the world population will live under water stress by 2050. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: June 2016

Using Noise Logger to Detect Water Leaks

Monitoring for water waste is becoming a big thing. Not only is it wasteful but water leaks also result in sinkholes that eat up roads and swallow cars. Noise loggers can help to locate and pinpoint leaks in water pipelines. – Stu Hamilton

Constructing Rating Curves Using Remote Sensing

This is the latest in an increasing number of papers investing techniques for doing hydrometry from space. – Stu Hamilton

Adjusting Annual Peak Discharges for Changes in Land-Use Conditions

This new USGS report tackles a tricky subject. The authors take the approach of adjusting historical peak discharge records to 2010 land-use conditions using a housing density-based measure of developed land use. Records affected by the construction of stormwater detention reservoirs and split into segments at the time of construction of the reservoir. – Stu Hamilton

Groundwater Sustainability in California

Achieving sustainability requires a lot of data but a big problem is that data is not being collected consistently. Much of the data is not adequate for decision-making – either because the quality is too poor or it isn’t at the right spatial or temporal frequency. Water monitoring is too fragmented into political jurisdictions which don’t add up to a comprehensive dataset at the basin scale. More standardization of methods and a common data-sharing platform are required. There is also a need for more dedicated monitoring wells. There is very little monitoring of groundwater-surface water interactions. – Stu Hamilton


Producing energy while reducing evaporative losses seems like a good idea. One of the issues with land-based photovoltaic systems is dust that needs to be washed off, which uses a lot of water. Keeping these panels clean shouldn’t be a problem. – Stu Hamilton

Monitoring the Easton Glacier

Well written blog post and entertaining video of monitoring the mass balance on the Easton Glacier. You don’t need to have a passion for glaciology to be really interested in this story. This, I think, is a good lesson for everyone operating a monitoring network. Find a good entertaining way of telling a story and in the process educate the public about why basic monitoring is important. – Stu Hamilton

Forum for Water Practitioners, Watershed Groups, First Nations and Other Decision-Makers

This forum will explore new approaches to freshwater decision-making in BC (Sept 2016) – Stu Hamilton

Interactive Global Hydrology

This is fun. Play around with this and see how well it does in your watersheds, show water flow, raise sea level and inspect watersheds. It is incredibly responsive and seems quite good for large watersheds. – Stu Hamilton

Water Allocation in Rivers Under Pressure

This new e-book by Dustin Evan Garrick examines the evolution and performance of water allocation reforms in the Colorado, Columbia and Murray-Darling Basins – three watersheds at the leading edge of water scarcity challenges. – Stu Hamilton

Water Discovered Beneath California’s Central Valley

Previous estimates of California’s groundwater are based on water to a maximum depth of 1,000 feet. New prospecting for deep groundwater has revealed what is being hailed as a water ‘windfall’. The trend to go ever deeper for water to support a water dependent economy should be a cautionary tale for fracking, where the claim that fracking only impacts water that will ‘never’ be harvested is only true until we need that water. – Stu Hamilton

New Zealand Is off to the Warmest Start to the Year on Record

The first 6 months of 2016 are set to be the warmest ever start of the year according to records back to 1909. Every month of the year has been at least 0.5oC warmer than the 1981-2010 climatological average. – Stu Hamilton

A River Network Under the Greenland Ice Sheet

A giant river network has been exposed using ground penetrating RADAR through the Greenland ice sheet. It is estimated it took 2.3 million years to form this watershed, which includes channels up to 1400 m deep and 12 kilometers wide. – Stu Hamilton

Mission: Water

Xylem has introduced a new newsletter style online magazine. Whereas this appears like a platform to celebrate the Xylem product line it does so in an interesting and engaging way with some very interesting articles about water monitoring around the world. – Stu Hamilton

Uncertainty and Modeling

I will take any opportunity to remind the world of why we need basic monitoring. This paper by Beck and Krueger looks at epistemic, ethical and political dimensions of uncertainty in integrated assessment modeling. This is important because model results are becoming increasingly compelling and, at least to the public, indistinguishable from actual observational evidence. Whereas there are also uncertainties with observational data, there is a big difference from model errors that can have a ethical-political dimension. – Stu Hamilton

Handheld X-Ray Flourescence Spectrometer

This USGS fact sheet describing a handheld X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer foreshadows the future of water quality monitoring. Whereas the use-cases described are primarily with respect to measurements of soils, alluvium and rocks I can well imagine a near-future where spectrometers are developed for affordable and continuous water monitoring of many basic elements such as Arsenic Chromium, Lead and Selenium. This device can detect 27 basic elements. – Stu Hamilton

15 Countris Account for 80% of Population Exposed to River Flood Risk

The global GDP exposed to river floods is $96 B per year. River floods affect 21 M people per year. A 2.6-fold increase in risk exposure is expected by the year 2030. The frequency of flood events globally has increased by a factor of 4 since 1980. If this threat was coming from extremists not the environment, how much do you think governments would be willing to spend on intelligence gathering? How does the funding for your monitoring program compare? – Stu Hamilton

Source Water Protection

A bill has been introduced in the California to protect forests in mountain watersheds. This implies that the value of natural capital is starting to be recognized. – Stu Hamilton

The Blue Peace Initiative

The goal of Blue Peace is to improve monitoring, data management and information sharing in Jordan and Lebanon to support economic development and disaster risk management. IMHO this should be a model for any aid funding. Far too much aid funding is wasted because of a lack of fundamental information about water services capacity in the local environment. Success follows well-informed decision-making. Good information requires good data. – Stu Hamilton

Intermittant Rivers and Ephemeral Streams (IRES)

More than half the length of the global river network ceases to flow or goes completely dry at various times and places. In a warming climate the proportion will likely increase hence we should be able to explain the hydrology biogeochemistry and biodiversity of these systems. Unfortunately, almost all of our knowledge of hydrology has been derived from perpetually flowing waters. The project 1000IRP is designed to address the data shortage. – Stu Hamilton

USGS Scientists Look at Urban Water Consumption in Australia

Highly treated drinking water is used for nearly all of Australia’s urban water supply needs, including landscape irrigation. The water requirement of urban landscapes, particularly urban parklands, is of growing concern. Three approaches (field-based, remote sensing-based and observational-based) for Evapotranspiration estimation in mixed urban vegetation were compared. The results are scale-sensitive. – Stu Hamilton

Governments to Protect Long-Term Climate Records

This is really, really important. Continuous observations from thermometers, rain gauges and other traditional instruments remain essential as a reference. Without them, it would not be possible to confirm that the Earth has warmed significantly over the past century. However, measuring sites can be closed due to budget cuts or moved to a different location, making long-term comparisons difficult. Without appropriate recognition, long-term observing stations too are at risk. WMO has produced a five-minute video that can be viewed in English, French, Russian and Spanish. Make sure the bean-counters in your agency see this video at your next meeting. – Stu Hamilton

Dispelling Myths About Climate Change

This is a good resource for any water resource professional. There is an widely held expectation that you are the most knowledgeable person with respect to the effect of global climate on local water resources. There is lots of good information here that you can work with. – Stu Hamilton

Demystifying Climate Models

This free book explains climate modeling systems without the maths. – Stu Hamilton

Glacial Mass Balance South-Eastern BC Canada

An assessment of the winter mass balance for the Columbia Basin Glacier would only have had a localized interest a few decades ago. As we discover more about the global importance of the cryosphere and the sensitivity of the cryosphere to climate teleconnections these results should be of interest to everyone, everywhere. There is a link to a beautiful video of the field work that shows that even important work can be fun. Take a few minutes today to read this blog and watch the video. – Stu Hamilton

Hydrologic Impacts of Thawing Permafrost

This is fascinating. The effects of dewatering lakes were evident even back when I was working in the north 20 years ago. I really think that permafrost hydrology is really key to understanding and predicting climate change. The dynamic processes can be highly non-linear. Monitoring of northern watersheds is more important than ever. – Stu Hamilton

Australian Hydrographers Association Conference

Mark you calendars! Australian Hydrographers Association, October 24-27, 2016 Canberra Australia. Call for papers deadline July 8, 2016 – Stu Hamilton

VIDEO: Amid India’s Drought Crisis, New Ways of Growing Cotton Helps Small Farmers

New ways of growing cotton may help the drought crisis. – Stu Hamilton

Multiple Pathways To Sustainable Development: Further Evidence Of Sustainability In Practice

Building a circular economy in Germany; Natural Capital Accounting in Botswana and Rwanda;  Payments for Ecosystems Services in Costa Rica and Uganda; and the Gross National Happiness index in Bhutan are evidence of sustainability in practice. – Stu Hamilton

Green is Gold – The Strategy And Actions Of China’s Ecological Civilization

China has committed to being 25% covered by forest by 2020 in its bid to build an eco-civilization. This initiative will help China improve its water efficiency from over 300 m3/ 1,000 USD GDP to just over 50. – Stu Hamilton

Stockholm International Water Institute – Water For a Sustainable World

Stockholm International Water Institute – Water For a Sustainable World. World Water Week, August 28 to September 2, 2016 Stockholm Sweden. – Stu Hamilton

Beijing Is Sinking

Satellite radar inteferometry provides more evidence of water over-use. Beijing has been suffering from land subsidence since 1935. – Stu Hamilton

Report to Congress – Review of the Allotment of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund

EPA finds that most States do not currently receive appropriated funds in proportion to their reported needs or population, which demonstrates the inadequacy of the current allotment. EPA presents 3 options for correcting this disparity in funding for clean water. – Stu Hamilton

Embrace the Water – A Cities of the Future Conference

International Water Association Conference, Gothenburg Sweden, June 12-14 2017. Call for abstracts. – Stu Hamilton

Shaping Our Water Future – World Water Congress & Exhibition 2016

Mark your calendars for the World Water Congress and Exhibition October 9-14 2016 Brisbane Australia Early bird registration deadline July 1st. – Stu Hamilton

Is Drought Causing a Health Crisis in California?

There is a ripple effect from having insufficient water. A study in Tulare county, California found that during the drought people washed their hands less, washed their food less, and compromised their diet by not growing their own produce. – Stu Hamilton

Surprising Way Climate Change Is Impacting Water

We need more investigators like Bruce Daniels using actual data to figure out what is going on. There is a lot of information in our data that isn’t apparent in superficial analysis.  – Stu Hamilton

May 2016 Sets New Records

When does reporting on new climate records being set cease to be newsworthy? Word that a new record hasn’t been set would be very welcome news these days. – Stu Hamilton

Willie Takes a Field Trip – Hydrometric Coloring Book

I can’t resist sharing this one. It is a coloring book telling the story of a small boy going on a hydrometric field trip with his uncle. It can be hard to explain what it is that you do to someone who doesn’t already know. I think the target audience was kids back in 1990 but in 2016 I don’t think you need to discriminate on the basis of age. This is a good way of answering a lot of adult’s questions. – Stu Hamilton

Conserving Water Saves Energy

It takes energy to supply potable water to the tap. Researchers at University of California, Davis Center for Water-Energy Efficiency have quantified the electricity and GHG savings from water conservation initiatives. Results will vary according to the energy intensity of the water supply system but the advantages of consumer education efforts can be substantial – from June 2015 to February 2016 water conservation in California represented the equivalent of taking 50,000 cars off the road. Maybe there is a silver lining to the California drought. – Stu Hamilton

Do you collect grab sample data? Discover AQUARIUS Samples. Sample Data Management Made Easy.

You’re invited to watch a 3-min video of AQUARIUS Samples. Discover how to streamline the management of your environmental lab and field sample program. – Dave Gilbey

World Oceans Day Is June 8th – Resources

Today, June 8 is World Oceans Day. Oceans are an  ultimate shared resource. Hydrologists have a disproportionate share of responsibility for the state of the oceans of the world. Much of the threat to oceans is coming from rivers that we monitor and manage. Healthy oceans need healthy rivers. – Stu Hamilton

New Zealand Reaches Climate Change Milestone

The forensics are in. While not exactly water news, I think the observation of 400 ppm at Baring Head NZ is significant evidence that dilution is not the solution to pollution. Air, that should be pristine, is covered with fingerprints of anthropogenic change. – Stu Hamilton

Stream Velocity Rod Users Guide

We have a big need for these concise guides for the infrequent, seasonal field staff. Particularly for the mid-section applications. This Manual helps you simplify and get across the essentials without losing the need to always learn more.  – Stu Hamilton

Flood-Prone Area Delimitation Using UAV Technology, in the Areas Hard-To-Reach for Classic Aircrafts: Case Study in the North-East of Apuseni Mountains, Transylvania

I have noted the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in hydrometry in my blog posts. If you are interested in this topic then this new study from Transylvania will also be of interest. – Stu Hamilton

As One of Its Chief Sources of Water Dries Up, California Eases Restrictions on Use Nonetheless

California is needing to draw heavily on groundwater reserves, in part because on May 18 — the same day that California’s Water Resources Control Board lifted its restrictions — Lake Mead, the reservoir that stores Southern California’s share of the Colorado River, reached its lowest point since 1937. – Stu Hamilton

Ground-Water Availability in the United States

This new report “is to identify the challenges in determining ground-water availability, summarize the current state of knowledge from a national perspective, and outline an approach for developing the needed understanding of future water availability.” Given the magnitude and extent of human impacts on the quantity and quality of groundwater resources this is an essential document. – Stu Hamilton

A Decadal Look at Groundwater Quality

This is really cool. Groundwater quality data has, historically, been anything but readily accessible and interpretable. This is an inspiration that  new  and innovative approaches for communicating information from data are always possible. – Stu Hamilton

Marine and Coastal Impacts of Ocean Desalination in California

This whitepaper considers the role that desalination can play in mitigating California’s water shortages. Thought specific to California, there are some generalizations that are applicable anywhere. High cost, high energy use, high GHG emissions, siting difficulties, and brine disposal  are all significant impediments to development of desalination. It seems like we will be reliant on surface water for a while yet. That means more and better data will be needed to further refine the efficiency with which we can meet needs and sustain healthy ecosystems. – Stu Hamilton

Coalition’s Queensland Dam Bonanza ‘Threatens Great Barrier Reef’

Malcolm Turnbull has pledged AUD 150M to develop dams in Queensland to relieve water problems for agriculture. This makes sense because the problem with water is that there is either more than you can use or less than you want. What farmers want is a Goldilocks supply that is ‘just right’.  Australia has also committed to reducing nitrogen runoff by 80% by the year 2025 to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The projected increase in agriculture (creating 2100 new jobs) from the new dams would increase nitrogen runoff by 2,500 tonnes. It is hard to imagine how these competing commitments can both be successful. Like Matt Damon in the movie the Martian, Australian hydrologists will have to ‘science the shit out of this’. – Stu Hamilton

A Waterway to Resilience – Fiscal Year 2015 Annual Report

The impacts of climate change are being felt primarily through water. Water has become one of the World Bank’s 14 new Global Practices to ensure the integration of the best knowledge within lending operations. Through partnership the World Bank is working to end poverty and boost shared prosperity through support to investments and analytical work in the water sector. – Stu Hamilton

Price of Water 2016 – Up 5% in 30 Major US Cities & 48% Increase Since 2010

The era of clean, safe, secure and abundant water being taken for granted in US cities may be coming to an end. It is curious to see the price of water going up while the price of oil is coming down. The difference is that there is an ethical responsibility for water distribution as a basic right. All human rights come at a cost, the question is how should those costs be shared? – Stu Hamilton

Designing Effective Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

While this is based on California there is value in this report for groundwater management anywhere in the world. The authors propose 9 criteria for evaluating new Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: May 2016

Understanding Water Risks Drives Global Investors

The speed of the transition from relatively stable to unstable global water conditions, and the extent of the losses has dismayed the international investment community, which is struggling to better understand the economic risks of drought, floods, pollution, and social unrest prompted by shrinking reserves of fresh water. The hydrometric data you are producing may be driving the stock exchange before you know it. – Stu Hamilton

FlowScreen: Daily Streamflow Trend and Change Point Screening

I saw a demonstration of the plots generated by flowscreen in a presentation by Paul Whitfield at the NASH session of the CWRA 2016 conference in Montreal. In one step you get a comprehensive review of a time-series of data with everything you need to know about the data prior to using it in any sort of analysis. It is a very useful R package that is designed for use with data from USGS and WSC but can be used with data from many agencies. If you have some familiarity with R I strongly recommend you have a look at this package. – Stu Hamilton

What is Headwater Analytics?

Some students at UBC have created a blog for sharing open source code for hydrological applications. If you have an interest in hydrology  and have some skills with the R programming language you should check it out. – Stu Hamilton

Original Groundwater by Freeze and Cherry (1979) Now Available Online!

Please be patient. The download demand has overwhelmed the hydrogeologists without borders bandwidth. – Stu Hamilton

Unplugging the Colorado River – Could the End Be Near for One of the West’s Biggest Dams?

How reversible are historic water management decisions? Are any water projects ‘too big to fail’? Is there a social and environmental responsibility for legacy water projects to re-justify their existence in the context of a modern environmental ethos? For new projects should there be a ‘best-before’ date built into the environmental assessment and approval process, where a failure-to-justify triggers a decommissioning process? – Stu Hamilton

Pipe Assisted Underground Taming of Surface Floods – The Experience With Holiyas in North Gujarat

Holiyas, which are a groundwater recharge system can solve two problems – what to do with too much water and what to do when there is too little water. – Stu Hamilton

2017 Texas State Water Plan

At an average cost of USD 12B over the next 50 years, Texas is not banking on nature providing their water security for the future. – Stu Hamilton

India Set to Start Massive Project to Divert Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers

330 million Indians have been affected by drought. The project will take 20 to 30 years to complete. – Stu Hamilton

April Continues Record Temperature Streak

Global temperature records were broken again for the 12th consecutive month, the longest streak in 137 years of record. 13 of the 15 highest monthly temperature departures have occurred since February 2015. Over relatively short time-scales global climate can be disconnected from local hydrological effects. It will be interesting to see, in retrospect, whether this extended departure is enough to overwhelm local-scale variability in atmospheric-hydrologic response. – Stu Hamilton

High & Dry – Climate Change, Water, and the Economy

Water scarcity will worsen in such as areas as the Middle East and Africa and will proliferate in areas where such problems don’t currently exist. India and China, for example, could see their GDPs drop by as much as 6 percent. “Smart water policy is fundamental to smart climate policy and smart development policy,” “While adopting policy reforms and investments will be demanding, the costs of inaction are far higher.” – Stu Hamilton

Information Needs of Engineers

A survey conducted by Northern Arizona University – Stu Hamilton

Long-Term Continuous Acoustical Suspended-Sediment Measurements in Rivers—Theory, Application, Bias, and Error

High temporal resolution sediment concentration data are required to accurately calculate sediment load. There are very few people left with the skill and training required to conduct a sediment program using conventional methods. Advances in multi-frequency acoustical method for measurements of sediment concentration and aspects of grain size distribution show great promise for producing accurate sediment load. – Stu Hamilton

NOAA’s premier forecast model goes 4-D

The Global Forecast System now runs hourly forecasts at a grid resolution of 13 km out to 5 days, in 3D space and time. This improved resolution combined with better data assimilation will result in greater precision for weather forecasts. – Stu Hamilton

From Lake Garda to the Thames: Why boat drones are taking to the water

A combination of AI, robot boats, and millions in EU funding is helping researchers check conditions of some of Europe’s most vital water sources. – Dave Gilbey

Water-Related Risks Strand $Billions in Energy, Mining, Power Projects

The link between water and the economy is obvious. What about the link between lack of access to the timely, accurate and meaningful data that should have informed these investment decisions and the economic fallout of the decisions that have been made based on inadequate, incomplete or inaccurate water data? – Stu Hamilton

Flood Preparedness – There’s an App for That

Effort made in improving monitoring includes improving communications so that the right people have access to the right data at the right time to make the right decisions. The USGS has unveiled the USGS Texas Water Dashboard  that provides real-time water, weather and flood forecast information through one convenient application. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: April 2016

Food Costs Soar for Africa’s Poor Amid Worst Drought in Decades

The smallest corn crop in 2 decades is a result of the ongoing drought in Africa. This is a continent running out of options. Better continental-scale water management is desperately needed. – Stu Hamilton

How I Rented a Piece of a River in a Never-Ending Western Drought

First-in-time, first-in-right is how water rights in western North America are managed. This article on a journalist purchasing a ‘right’ to use water is worth reading. If a rights holder is acting on behalf of ecosystem values (which is surely the first-in-time!) and chooses to leave the water in-stream, how is that ‘right’ protected as the water moves downstream? The whole notion of western water law  is to protect a downstream user from unfair upstream water extractions. What if the rights holder is trying to protect the water from unfair downstream water extractions to ensure the integrity of the ecosystem? The answer is decades of legal battles. – Stu Hamilton

Can Justin Trudeau Explain Quantum Water Flow?

The Prime Minister of Canada recently made headlines for his attempt at explaining quantum computing. Here is a challenge for him – how about explaining quantum water flow? New research into the behavior of water in confined spaces reveals that water – under certain circumstances  – can actually change form to pass through barriers that would, classically, be impervious. This new insight into how water behaves at a molecular level may lead to advancements in everything from cell biology minerology. – Stu Hamilton

Earth Observations for Water Resources Management – Current Use & Future Opportunities for the Water Sector

A good primer on the state of the art in remote sensing for the water sector. – Stu Hamilton

Water Monitoring From Space – Estimating Continental River Basin Discharges Using Multiple Remote Sensing Data Sets

This study investigates the use of satellite altimetry data and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data to provide a time series of river stage and effective width. Ratings are established and the results look good for continental scale rivers (defined as having channel widths > 800m). – Stu Hamilton

Water & Jobs: The United Nations World Water Development Report 2016

A new United Nations report ‘Water and Jobs’ states that 3 out of 4 jobs that make up the global workforce are either heavily or moderately dependent on water. As important as this may be, the first of the challenges noted is “Reliable and objective information concerning the state of water resources in terms of their quantity, quality and vulnerability at the local or basin level is often poor or lacking”. – Stu Hamilton

Algae Overtake Australia’s Murray River

500 km of the Murray River’s main stem and tributaries are effected by a massive bloom of blue-green algae. Low rainfall, record-breaking heatwave and high phosphorus levels have combined to create the bloom. While this bloom is not toxic (some are), dying algae will suck the oxygen out of the water causing problems for the entire ecosystem. – Stu Hamilton

Climate Change Sets New Records

We are impressed when records are broken when the previous mark has stood the test of decades of time. We should be even more impressed when records are broken where the ink is barely dry on the previous mark. This news release from the WMO gives us lots to be impressed about, in a very disturbing way. – Stu Hamilton

El Nino Is Over But the Damage Continues

60 million people are hurting because of drought and flood, crop failures in the Horn of Africa, drought in Central America restricted the draft of ships passing the Panama Canal, salt water in the depleted Mekong Delta caused USD 250M in crop damage, political and social instability in Venezuela is attributed to lack of rain. – Stu Hamilton

Fighting Corruption in the Water Sector

More bad news. The Water Integrity Global Outlook 2016 has now been published and the findings are grim. Institutional fragmentation and corruption are resulting in losses of USD 75B of water sector investments annually. The good news is that this report turns the lights on in this shady area of water governance, which may lead to action by governments and stakeholders. – Stu Hamilton

CSIRO: Burning of fossil fuel causes most sea level rise

Not such good news. We are far from exhausting the supply of fossil fuels and traditional cost/benefit economic principles don’t apply as long as the true cost is distributed globally rather than being paid by consumers. – Stu Hamilton

Development Partners Discuss Hydromet Service Investment

Every once in a while there is good news. To address the widening service delivery gap, the World Meteorological Organization and the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) convened a development partners roundtable from 13 to 14 April.  “We need to invest more in hydrometeorological services, in early warning services and in climate services,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “Now is the time to invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Hydrometeorological services are key players in this. Investments typically yield a return of ten times – or even greater.” According to World Bank Estimates, improved hydrometeorological services would increase productivity by $30 billion. – Stu Hamilton

Economists See Role For Data in Battling Drought

Data has a role to play in both demand-side and supply-side economics of water. One fundamental assumption of economic theory is that people act independently on the basis of full and relevant information. We know how hard it is to provide relevant water information, so we know it is almost never true that this assumption is valid for water economics. – Stu Hamilton

Happy Earth Day! The Many Faces of Earth

The European Space Agency has put together a compilation of the many faces of earth to remind us all that we live on a pretty special planet. – Stu Hamilton

Snowpack 97% of Average in California’s Northern Sierra

An improved outlook but still not enough to wipe the effects of years of drought. – Stu Hamilton

The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters 1995-2015

There is emerging consensus that there is much to be learned from the last 10 years to guide climate change adaptation. Being forewarned is forearmed. – Stu Hamilton

Laser Spectrograph Device Revolutionizes Water Resource Management

The ratio of stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen in a water sample can tell us a lot about the water source. Technology is helping to make this information more widely accessible. – Stu Hamilton

Slideshow: Water is Work

This slide show celebrates the inherent connection between water and productivity. – Stu Hamilton

Vital Australian Water Data Supports Water Management – National Water Account 2015

The first of 10 Australian regional water accounts for the year 2015 have now been published. This will be of obvious interest if you live in Australia but even if you don’t you should pay attention to the way that the rigour and principles of financial accounting have been applied to water management. In announcing the water account the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, noted “Farmers, industry, investors and governments across Australia all benefit when we work with credible and comprehensive water information. It’s very hard to manage what you don’t measure—this makes it a whole lot easier.” – Stu Hamilton

Aquatic Informatics Announces AQUARIUS Samples – a New Modern SaaS Solution That Streamlines Grab Sample Data Management

As natural resource issues around the world escalate in severity, it’s increasingly critical that accurate information is available to inform timely decisions. AQUARIUS Samples is today’s most modern and user-friendly solution for managing grab sample data and metadata securely online to produce higher quality environmental information in less time. – Ed Quilty

Water News: March 2016

Pigeon Air

Pigeons are carrying backpacks with N2 and Ozone sensors and tweeting the results. – Stu Hamilton

Irrigated Area Map Asia (2000-2010) and Africa (2010)

This map should help you appreciate ‘specialness’ of the diminishing supply of pristine rivers all the more. The effects of the green revolution in India are especially evident. – Stu Hamilton

Identifying and Preserving High-Water Mark Data

This new USGS Techniques and Methods manual is a must-read for every stream hydrographer. At some time in your career you will be unable to gauge the most impactful event you will have ever experienced. You may be limited by access, health and safety considerations or the limits of your technology. However, there is no longer any excuse for not knowing how to correctly identify and preserve information that is absolutely critical for retrospective analysis of the event. – Stu Hamilton

How A Sexy Thriller Could Get People To Care About Their Water

Go figure. Who would ever have thought sex and water quality would ever belong in the same sentence, much less that there would be a whole novel written on this theme. – Stu Hamilton

China’s Massive Water Problem

One advantage of an autocratic government is that massive water projects can be completed despite opposition. One disadvantage of an autocratic government is that massive water projects can be completed despite opposition. I can’t comment on how thoroughly any and all risks to the environment were evaluated before undertaking the massive north-south water diversion (Nanshui beidiao gongcheng) project but I rather doubt that a water diversion project of this scale could have survived a North American environmental review process. This is a grand, uncontrolled, experiment where n=1. If this works out well, it could be used as an exemplar for water diversion mega-projects everywhere. However, it doesn’t if it doesn’t work out well… – Stu Hamilton

Informing our Work: What the Value of Water National Poll Means for the Water Industry

Very interesting read. You can access the poll referenced by Danielle Mayorga by clicking here. Ultimately (hopefully), the information and decisions (like ROI) that are driving education and awareness come from high quality data about surface and groundwater and the treated water sent to your homes.  – Dave Gilbey

Real-Time Water Temperature, in °C – Continuous Real-Time Water Quality of Surface Water in the United States

Continuous real-time water quality of surface water in the United States. This is a very nice explorer to be able to quickly find time-series data for any real-time water quality variable you are interested in. I like the spatial context because it is helpful to determine whether the at-site data is regionally representative or not. – Stu Hamilton

Estimating the Uncertainty of Streamgauging Techniques Using In Situ Collaborative Interlaboratory Experiments

Getting a bunch of people together to do replicate gaugings (e.g. a flowtilla) is the only way to materially advance our understanding of the various sources of gauging uncertainty. One criticism of flow regattas is that the sites and conditions chosen are typically nearly ideal for the method being evaluated. In the real world, we don’t care a lot about the uncertainty of gaugings under ideal conditions those measurements are almost always good enough. What really matters are the gaugings during extreme conditions when hydrographers and their equipment are being tested to the limit. This study from France compared the uncertainty of ADCP gaugings in ideal conditions to gaugings done during unstable flow. The results are quite informative and highly suggestive that we need to greatly expand the scope of these projects. – Stu Hamilton

As Wells Go Deeper, Radium Levels Rise in State Tap Water

If anyone still needs convincing that we need to be increasing water monitoring as the world becomes more water stressed this might make the difference. Water quantity and quality are inextricably linked. This means that diminishment of supply by depletion is compounded by degradation, which can be a non-linear process. Proactive management to ensure water security requires timely and relevant data and information. – Stu Hamilton

National Groundwater Awareness Week

Out-of-sight, out-of-mind pretty much sums up the global state of consciousness about groundwater. It is time to change this. – Stu Hamilton

Greenland’s Ice Is Getting Darker, Increasing Risk of Melting

As alarming as the implications of this story are, it is not surprising. The high albedo of the cryosphere is what makes it such and effective coolant for atmospheric temperatures. Dialing down the albedo of the cryosphere is like turning off the coolant pump in your fridge. This feedback process ensures that things are going to get a lot warmer before they can start getting cooler again. – Stu Hamilton

Where There Once Was Water – A California Story

There is now a Kickstarter campaign to create a feature film about the California drought. Check out the gallery to see some beautiful pictures documenting a story of over-use, mis-use and abuse of water resources. – Stu Hamilton

Envisioning Hydrometric Data to Enhance Management of River Systems

I enjoyed some spirited discussions with the authors of this paper at the HWRS 2015 convention in Hobart. It was as if we were prospectors who had just invented the sluice box. Modern technologies, such as ADCP, produce a massive amount of data from which we would normally extract a single nugget of gold. However, with more effective treatment, the data overburden becomes information gold, revealing all kinds of insight into hydrologic and hydraulic processes. – Stu Hamilton

Preserving Continuity of Long-Term Daily Maximum and Minimum Temperature Observations with Automation of Reference Climate Stations using Overlapping Data and Meteorological Conditions

Environmental monitoring is the art of a paradox. With one hand we strive for continuous improvement in methods, techniques, technologies to provide new insight into environmental processes and better enable evidence-based decision-making. With the other hand we strive to ensure that our data are produced with high integrity and continuity over long time periods to enable accurate analyses – and differentiation – of various trends, cycles and transient signals in the time-series. As a colleague, Paul Whitfield, would point out “If we are making the data ‘better’ we are making it different.” If we are making data ‘different’ by making it ‘better’, we make it very difficult to separate technological artifact from natural phenomena. This paper is a very worthwhile read to look at one approach for resolving the problem of joining manually observed temperature data with automated temperature monitoring. – Stu Hamilton

Aquatic Informatics Wins EBJ Award for Exceptional AQUARIUS WebPortal Sales Growth & Innovative Cloud Services

The EBJ Business Achievement Awards are the most prestigious in the environmental sector. We’re grateful to be recognized for the third consecutive year for our unwavering dedication to innovation to create greater water insight. Our market is changing rapidly. Agility is key to both our success and the success of our customers. – Ed Quilty

Get Your Science Used — Six Guidelines to Improve Your Products

This document was prepared for seismic hazards but is, I think, extremely appropriate for water monitoring, where we are also dealing with low frequency, high-impact, natural events. One chapter in particular caught my attention: “probability alone won’t get the message across” this speaks volumes of one of the challenges faced in communicating water knowledge. – Stu Hamilton

The Water-Land-Food Nexus of First-Generation Biofuels

This study from the University of Virginia helps to quantify how tough our choices become as water becomes a scarce commodity. – Stu Hamilton

Field and laboratory studies reveal interacting effects of stream oxygenation and warming on aquatic ectotherms

If you aren’t already monitoring water temperature and dissolved oxygen at your gauges, now might be a good time to start. Recent research demonstrates a pretty clear link between this factors and ecological response. – Stu Hamilton

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Safe for Water?

The worst drought in decades on the Mekong river is having myriad effects including: saltwater intrusion, a threat to international cooperation, the rhetoric is ratcheting up about water management with threats to the delta that could be catastrophic for the largest freshwater fishery in the world. – Stu Hamilton

Severe Drought Tightens Pressure in Mekong River Basin

The worst drought in decades on the Mekong river is having myriad effects including: saltwater intrusion, a threat to international cooperation, the rhetoric is ratcheting up about water management with threats to the delta that could be catastrophic for the largest freshwater fishery in the world. – Stu Hamilton

Southern Africa Droughts Jeopardize Food for Millions

This is not good. The drought will leave millions with little hope, which is fertile ground for fanatic groups to come in and promise a new future. The drought will spread conflict like brush fire. Better management of water supplies might help. But that would require good information about how those water supplies are responding to the drought. – Stu Hamilton

Providing Water Information to the Commonwealth – Report of the Interagency Working Group

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has just released an inter-agency report focused on making the reporting of water information more effective. This 80 page report is a testament to the value of comprehensive, timely, reliable, and secure sharing of water information. – Stu Hamilton

AWE Releases Report on Australia Drought – What California Can Learn From Australia’s Millennium Drought

Download the full 93 page report for some excellent insight about drought and lessons learned from Australia. However, there are some important distinctions between Australia and the Rest Of the World (ROW) that are not mentioned in this paper and should be considered in designing any drought strategy. Australia has a high density of long-term stream gauging compared to the ROW. The importance of monitoring source water and tracking losses as the streamflow  moves downstream seems to be taken for granted in Australia. Investing in streamflow monitoring is, arguably, the first thing the ROW should be focused on in order to prepare for drought resistance. – Stu Hamilton

Drones to Test the Waters – AMPHIBIOUS ​drones are ​being developed ​to collect and ​test potentially ​dangerous water ​samples from ​difficult to ​access ​watercourses

I don’t know how often it occurs but I am sure that more than one hydrographer has taken a dip while taking a dip sample for water quality from shore. The banks are often steep and slimy with few things that are secure to hold on to. Our reach from shore, even with a long pole, may not be enough to get a representative sample of the river. In some cases the assumption of complete mixing is best evaluated by taking samples across the river, which is difficult to impossible without a boat or a bridge. The use of amphibious drones for water quality sampling seems to me to me to be something that should be investigated for a whole host of good reasons. – Stu Hamilton

What’s the Big Idea? — Meeting Complex Challenges: Encouraging Risk-Taking, Learning From Failure

Mark Sogge, Regional Director of the USGS Pacific Region talks about innovation, the importance of it and how to make it happen. I very strongly recommend that everyone who reads this blog take 3 minutes and 30 seconds  out of their day to hear this perspective. This is excellent advice for everyone. He may be an ecologist but I think it would be great if every water monitoring organization were getting its strategic guidance from leaders as inspiring and visionary as Mr. Sogge. Forward this link to your manager. – Stu Hamilton

Surface-Water Quality-Assurance Plan for the U.S. Geological Survey Washington Water Science Center

This is an new USGS document prepared by the Washington Water Science Center, which lays out a plan that almost any agency could follow to conduct surface water monitoring with a high degree of integrity. The entire gage-to-page process is described in into one well-organized document with the relevant standards documents cited for reference. If you have your own quality assurance plan you should look at this to see if there is room to improve on your plan. If you don’t have a plan, you should consider adopting and adapting this practical guidance for your own agency-specific requirements. – Stu Hamilton

California Reservoirs Are Dumping Water in a Drought, but Science Could Change That

Dams are operated to serve multiple, often competing, objectives. Public safety, water security, environmental integrity, energy security… the list goes on. Better data to support better forecasting may allow for better optimization of multiple objectives. – Stu Hamilton

Instead of Record Rains, L.A. Gets the Hottest February on Record

The wet weather widely predicted to bring an end to California’s drought still hasn’t materialized. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: February 2016

The Next Big Short

The man who predicted the housing crisis of 2007, Dr. Michael Burry, now says “Water is a commodity whose demand is guaranteed. Fresh water cannot be taken for granted.” I don’t think his insight is anything that those of us who work closely with water data have known for a long time. Nonetheless, an outside perspective that affirms the reality of an unwanted trend is still a bit scary. – Stu Hamilton

Four Billion People Face Severe Water Scarcity

Nuff said! – Stu Hamilton

Infographic: The Age of U.S. Drinking Water Pipes — From Civil War Era to Today

Of the 1.9 million km of drinking water pipes in the US how many are past their ‘best before’ date. This is the start of the Replacement Era. – Stu Hamilton

UN World Water Day News

Stay tuned for the UN World Water Development Report 2016 that will be released on March 22 with the latest data on “Water and Jobs.” – Stu Hamilton

UNICEF World Water Day Graphics

Download UNICEF world water day (March 22) posters and get them printed for your workplace. – Stu Hamilton


A smartphone app for android and iOS devices called rainmapper is now available on the App Store and Google Play. This G-WADI PERSIANN-CCS Geo Server (Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks – Cloud Classification System) provides 4 km resolution satellite based precipitation estimates. This might be a good app for filed hydrographers to have so that that can improve their considerations of personal safety and extreme gauging response during high flow events. Let me know how this works out for you. – Stu Hamilton

Southeastern Asia-Oceania Flash Flood Guidance System

I have long been preaching that our traditional parochial attitudes about hydrometric data ownership need to be replaced with an open and transparent data sharing paradigm. This WMO example illustrates how our hydrological guidance is increasing integrated across all scales from hill-slope to global-scale forcings. The value of these systems is limited to the extent that the predictions can be calibrated and verified by ground truth. This requires global-scale access to local-scale water monitoring data. – Stu Hamilton

Futuristic New Tool in Cloud Seeding: Drones

What next? I have a very skeptical attitude about the wisdom of cloud seeding. Making the technology for cloud seeding affordable and, perhaps, out of the direct control of science-guided national meteorological agencies seems like a very disruptive idea. Our protections for water rights are limited to surface waters – what happens when people start intercepting atmospheric water that would otherwise have been destined for some other farmers field? – Stu Hamilton

Turning Floodwater into Drinking Water

“Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink” The rime of the ancient mariner reflects the unfortunate experience of flood victims everywhere. This video of a technology developed in Thailand illustrates the value of a water purification solution that is readily deployable and down-scalable to have the greatest impact. If you consider the loss of life to waterborne disease, such as Cholera, after natural disasters then a very large proportion of the human cost of these events becomes preventable with technologies such as this. – Stu Hamilton

How Deep Learning Gives Us a Precise Picture of All the Water on Earth

This MIT technology review article illustrates the value of training machines to find useful information about water in otherwise noisy remote sensing images. A better picture of the spatial extent of where surface water is, and where it isn’t can indicate regions that are either suffering, or are about to suffer hardship. – Stu Hamilton

AQUARIUS WebPortal Now Features Configurable Dashboards for Powerful Online Visualization of Environmental Data

New customizable dashboards, heat maps, enhanced charting, and map display options empower users with visually rich environmental intelligence, clear trends, and warnings of critical conditions.

AWRA Opens February Issue of JAWRA for Public Download

I love free stuff! Especially high quality free stuff. Take a look at the article by Asarian and Walker attributing differences in streamflow trend to factors such as flow regulation and groundwater source. If you are interested in sediment sampling you should look at the technical note by Kelso and Baker. – Stu Hamilton

Integrated Crop Water Management Might Sustainably Halve the Global Food Gap

This new report shows than better on-farm water management can increase global crop yield in a substantial way. If this study is accurate we can predict that farmers will be much more aggressive in their water management to meet the need for more food. Where available surface and groundwater sources are already fully subscribed then the only thing to do is increase efficiency of water use. Agricultural runoff is often laden with nutrients, pathogens and pesticides. Any change that reduces agricultural runoff could be a win for food production and a win for the receiving environment. However, global-scale changes in agricultural water use and water management are not without risk. This is a development that we will, very literally, need to monitor closely at a very local-scale. – Stu Hamilton

Tools and Resources on World Water Day Web

If you are interested in celebrating World Water Day on March 22, here are some links to sites that will help you coordinate with what is going on in the rest of the world. – Stu Hamilton

Four Billion People Facing Severe Water Scarcity

This recent article in ScienceAdvances looks at increasing demand for freshwater resources in the context of protecting ecosystems within sustainable levels. It won’t be easy. Blue water scarcity is a data-driven concept, you need to know, at a fine temporal-spatial resolution both the water availability and water demand. This information and methodology could contribute to successful outcomes wherever the data are sufficiently available and reliable but I am not so sure how well things will work out in the rest of the world. – Stu Hamilton

Standards Dramatically Advance Streamflow and Flood Forecasting in US and Elsewhere – Part 1 | Part 2-5

Here are two blog posts by David Arctur about recent activities in the US and Europe about continental-scale stream forecasting at high-resolution and in near-real time. After many years of design and development of the concepts for water data inter-operability in the OGC it is exciting to see how enabling this emerging technology actually is. – Stu Hamilton

Is California Ready to Build Its Next Big Dam?

New construction of large dams and reservoirs have fallen out favour, This is, at least in part, because of a lack of trust that there is sufficient understanding of the consequences of messing with hydrological systems at a large scale. However, there is nothing like a strong economic incentive to make people change their trust threshold. When people are presented with enough of a profit motive they will raise their trust to the point where projects have been built without any meaningful data to guide design and development. It will be interesting to watch what happens in California in the coming decades. Perhaps, development proponents could earn trust by investing in relevant, reliable and trustworthy data to inform design and development decision-making. – Stu Hamilton

ACM Webinar Series on USAID’s Meeting to Connect Freshwater to Climate Practice

I haven’t actually watched this video (1:21) but it sounds interesting. The abstract is well written and leads me to believe that the webinar addresses some of the difficult issues of time-scale in management of water resources. – Stu Hamilton

The Most Important Water Stories of 2015

This is a good re-cap of the water news of the past year. I am sure there has never been a year, in modern times, where water issues have been more front and centre in global consciousness. – Stu Hamilton

An Empirical Assessment of Which Inland Floods Can Be Managed

This study fills an significant gap in our understanding of the value of landscape management for mitigating flood damage. This article resonates with a previous blog post about flood return intervals. This kind of empirical study can only be performed where there is a sufficiently high density of long duration high quality water monitoring data. We are indeed fortunate that this study was able to meet these criteria by using USGS investments in monitoring. In most of the rest of the world there is neither the density, duration nor quality of water monitoring to generate such robust results. – Stu Hamilton

The Science Behind the Flint Water Crisis

The Flint crisis has been in the news for a while now. The thing that drew my attention to this article is the linkage to source water quality. It is not the lead pipes per se that caused the problem it was the change in water source that caused corrosion of the pipes releasing lead into the potable water that triggered the crisis. The Flint River is naturally high in corrosive chloride; the iron pipes began corroding as soon as the source water supply was switched to the Flint River; the dissolved iron reacted with the chlorine added as a disinfectant making it ineffective; the level of chlorine needed to be increased leading to the formation of trihalomethanes; the corrosion affected lead service lines contributed to high levels of lead in the drinking water system. Early on in this whole sad story a good understanding of the ambient water quality could have changed the whole chain of unfortunate decision-making. – Stu Hamilton

Hydrography Webinar Series

This series on hydrography created last year have now been published and are particularly useful for anyone working in the US. – Stu Hamilton

Microsoft Just Put a Data Center Under Water

Great story on water keeping your data cool!! –Dave Gilbey

India Plans to Borrow $12.6 Billion Overseas to Fund Irrigation

India is investing in drought-proofing its essential agricultural sector. 860 billion rupees will move a lot of dirt and buy a lot of pipe. I hope these projects are sustainable – it would take a lot of relevant and reliable water data to ensure success. It would be very interesting to audit these projects in a few decades to see which ones are over-built, which ones are under-built, and which ones are built ‘just right’. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: January 2016

Subcultron: Swarming Robots That Keep an Eye on Waterways

How cool is this! Swarms of robots monitoring water quality and communicating via internet capable lily pads. – Stu Hamilton

Pressure Building on Global Water Supply

As if climate predictions are not dire enough on their own this study indicates that demand for domestic and industrial water demand will double by 2050 and continue to increase beyond that. If you don’t think anybody is paying attention to the water data you work so hard to produce, then just wait a few years. The pressure on every water source is going to create a demand for credible defensible and reliable data to resolve an ever growing number of water conflicts. – Stu Hamilton

Low-Cost Pneumatic Sensor for Water Level Detection in Gauging Stations

Too early to judge yet. Keep your eye out for advancements in this technology. – Stu Hamilton

Sediment Supply Versus Local Hydraulic Controls on Sediment Transport and Storage in a River With Large Sediment Loads

Many stream hydrographers struggle with managing rating curves in rivers with high sediment load. The trick is in understanding how event characteristics like flow strength and antecedent spatial distribution of sediments influence erosion and deposition. This paper may help you get your head wrapped around the relevant governing mechanisms for channel changing events. – Stu Hamilton

Call for abstracts – NASH symposium at CWRA 2016: Water management at all scales

The North American Stream Hydrographers (NASH) symposium will be held at the CWRA conference in Montreal, May 25 – 27, 2016. Please submit your abstracts under theme 1.2: Hydrometeorological data: sources, monitoring methods, networks and strategies by the February 1 deadline. I have been reviewing abstracts already submitted and I can assure you that this is going to be an excellent session. – Stu Hamilton

Drought Pushes South Africa To Water, Energy, and Food Reckoning

South Africa needs to find solutions for its water deficit. If current projections hold true they will need to find an additional 20% of the water they draw from rivers lakes and aquifers by the year 2030. Decisions made to alleviate crises often have adverse long-term consequences. I hope they have enough water monitoring in place so that they can be making well-informed decisions during this crisis. – Stu Hamilton

Bureau Confirms 2015 Was Australia’s Fifth-Warmest Year on Record

Record breaking temperatures from October to December are associated with the most significant El Nino in almost 2 decades. – Stu Hamilton

Geospatial Data Infrastructure Components Deployed for LTER – Europe Researchers’ Community

This research paper looks at an implementation of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards for Long-Term Ecological Research sites in Europe. The use-cases they investigated could be use-cases for any watershed anywhere in the world: 1) obtain detailed information about the sensor network. 2) retrieve data for one parameter for an entire region and 3) Obtain all data for all sensors at one location. The future has arrived, we just have to implement it. – Stu Hamilton

Hotter. Drier. Wetter. Face the Future.

Download a calendar with the winning photos of the WMO calendar completion. The Calendar theme is Hotter, Drier, Wetter. Face the Future. – Stu Hamilton

The State, the Drought and El Nino — A Complicated Relationship

Water supply is a result of conservation of mass. In other words what comes out of a system is the sum of what goes into the system plus any change in storage within the system. Hydrology is a science with particular focus on the changes of all storages within a system. This article is a good primer on why water supply in a region does not respond as a simple switch based on change in inputs (such as El Nino). The time-scales of all storages within a system are relevant. Water monitoring is the only way we have of developing an understanding of the roles of these storages in water supply. – Stu Hamilton

Global Risks Report 2016

For the next 10 years water crises are ranked the global risk of highest concern by the world economic forum. It is interesting to note that this is in spite of water crises not even making the top 10 in terms of most changing risks. In other words, water crises are not trending they are just disturbingly high. Water crises are ranked 3rd for 2016 behind failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation and weapons of mass destruction. Not surprisingly, Large-scale involuntary migration is the highest likelihood risk followed by extreme weather events. – Stu Hamilton

National Overview – Annual 2015

Full report released today: NOAA National Overview – Annual 2015. 2015 was over 1o C warmer than the 20th century average in the contiguous United States and was 2nd warmest on record. In Alaska, 2015 beat out 2014 as the warmest on record. Oklahoma and Texas ended a multi-year drought with widespread flooding. – Stu Hamilton

Balancing Hydropower and Biodiversity in the Amazon, Congo, and Mekong

This tension between energy security and environmental sustainability is apparent in these examples in the Amazon, Congo and Mekong basins. Ambitious plans that are not well-informed by comprehensive understanding of the role of water in ecosystem function are sure to have unintended consequences. Inadequate water monitoring leads to decisions where neither objective is achievable. – Stu Hamilton

Infographic: Water and Security Hot Spots 2016

If people don’t have enough air they suffocate. If they don’t have enough water they fight. Water scarcity and conflict are inextricably linked. This infographic points to some of the hotspots to watch in 2016. – Stu Hamilton

Streamflow Characteristics and Trends at Selected Streamgages in Southwest and South-Central Kansas

I love it when I see new reports like this being published. It is wishful thinking to simply push data out of the door and hope that someone will be smart enough to find it and know how to put it to good use. While it is true that good uses are found for almost all water data, many people who could benefit from the information are not well-equipped to do this sort of insightful analysis that really establishes the relevance of the data. I encourage all water monitoring agencies to lobby for increased resources to be able to have your own hydrologists bring this type of value to your water monitoring services. – Stu Hamilton

These 4 Things Need to Happen to End California’s Drought

This recent post by national geographic is interesting not only for its perspective on the factors that it will take to end California’s drought but also for an embedded video about the airborne snow observatory and a video about the impact of the snowpack. Even if you don’t have a stake in the California drought you should take a look at the two videos. – Stu Hamilton

A Systematic Evaluation of Chemicals in Hydraulic-Fracturing Fluids and Wastewater for Reproductive and Developmental Toxicity

This study from Yale University examined the toxicity of over 1,000 chemicals found in hydraulic-fracturing fluids and found about 200 of these chemicals to have adverse reproductive or developmental effects. Fracking is a divisive endeavor putting people advocating for the precautionary principle in conflict with people advocating for economic stimulus. Regardless of your opinion on fracking if you are involved in water quality monitoring of groundwater or surface water in regions where fracking is occurring you should be aware of what these chemicals are and you should start some baseline monitoring for detection of these substances. The pro-fracking lobby should support this monitoring as due diligence. Environmental advocates should support this monitoring for early detection of unwanted outcomes. – Stu Hamilton

NOAA – December Was the Warmest and Wettest December Ever

The analysis is based on records back to 1895. I wonder what our contribution to the data record will look like 121 years from now? Paper records have survived fairly well but how much effort is going into preserving a coherent digital legacy? – Stu Hamilton

Evaluation of the 8310-N-S Manufactured by Sutron—Results of Bench, Temperature, and Field Deployment Testing

This report is a good read for anyone with the responsibility of purchasing dataloggers. While it would be nice to have a consumer review of all dataloggers available for side-by-side comparison, even a single evaluation like this can be a very helpful guide for decision-making. You can be sure the manufacturer will be working very hard to address any reported deficiencies, which will make water monitoring more reliable for all of us. Every other manufacturer is also put on notice of the level of performance that they must achieve if they want to compete. That too , will make water monitoring more reliable for all of us. Reading this report before making your next datalogger purchase will provide you with a number of questions that you should ask of your vendor before committing to a purchase. – Stu Hamilton

El Nino Declining, to Return to Neutral by Second Quarter: Australia

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has reported that the El Nino  conditions have peaked and will return to an ENSO neutral condition by mid-year. – Stu Hamilton

Development of Flood Regressions and Climate Change Scenarios to Explore Estimates of Future Peak Flows

This is an interesting example of how inference about future flows can be gleaned from information in historical streamflow time-series. Subject to the limitations of assumption explicitly declared by the authors, this may be a good approach for developing design flow estimates that are conditioned on climate non-stationarity. – Stu Hamilton

Worldwide Electricity Production Vulnerable to Climate and Water Resource Change

Not surprisingly, hydropower plants will need to adapt to changing water availability. Never mind building new hydro capacity, existing hydro capacity will require extensive re-engineering before the end of the century. Knowing that good engineering design is based on good data, the time is now to ensure that monitoring upstream and downstream of all dams and reservoirs is adequate for this emerging need. – Stu Hamilton

A 10 Year Story – The Water for Life Decade 2005-2015 and Beyond

The results of the water for life decade provide many compelling arguments for sustainability in water use and documentation of the risks and opportunities ahead. Progress has been made but we are still learning how to deal with many of the challenges. One thing is clear. In order to manage our increasingly valuable water sources we need better information about the quantity and quality of those sources. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: December 2015

Reservoir Evaporation a Big Challenge for Water Managers in West

Friedrich said that ‘little research has been done on quantifying evaporation with instrumentation and numerical models.’ We need to better understand evaporation, which will require continuous measurements of wind direction and speed, air and reservoir temperatures, humidity, solar radiation and vegetation at individual reservoirs. – Dave Gilbey

EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY – A Case Study Examination of How Climate Change is Shifting Water Utility Planning

This report looks at how the water utilities industry needs to adapt to climate change. The authors under-state the role of monitoring in providing for a secure water future. While model predictions point to many water futures there is actually only one water future that will be realized. The problem for planners is that they don’t know which one. Water monitoring is the only way to know which, of many, possible futures is the one most probable. If the planners do not develop plans that include this new role for water monitoring then I can  have little confidence that their plans will be successful. There must be a ground truth for the models of the future. – Stu Hamilton

Considering Sampling Strategy and Cross-Section Complexity for Estimating the Uncertainty of Discharge Measurements Using the Velocity-Area Method

Despax et al. propose a new method for calculating the uncertainty of a discharge measurement this is sensitive to both riverbed shape and flow distribution complexity. The new technique is based on an approach of using an over-sampled gaugings (with 31 or more verticals) to assess the uncertainty component through statistical analysis. While a good idea in principle, I remain convinced that this approach will be valid for estimating the uncertainty of gaugings in the extreme range of flows (high and low) where it may be difficult or impossible to get the need high resolution reference gaugings. It is at the extremes that gauging uncertainty will be most affected by approaching the limits of validity of the measurement equipment. – Stu Hamilton

smwrBase—An R Package for Managing Hydrologic Data, Version 1.1.1

This report presents a collection of functions for hydrologic data—streamflow, groundwater elevations, and discrete water-quality concentrations—that can be used to import, transform, manipulate, and manage those data. – Stu Hamilton

Compendium of Water Quality Regulatory Frameworks: Which Water for Which Use?

This is a valuable global perspective of water quality regulations and the case studies are a new resource that many people working in the water quality field should be aware of. – Stu Hamilton

Stanford Scientists Solve Mystery of Arsenic Release Into Groundwater

Bacteria living in shallow sediment layers of permanently flooded wetlands in Asia drive arsenic release into water by feeding on freshly deposited plant material, a new study finds. – Dave Gilbey

Rio’s Troubled Water

Reporting on the Rio Olympics will raise the issue of water quality to a global audience. This might be a good opportunity to raise awareness of the benefit of routine monitoring for water quality to ensure that this severity of problem will not happen in your watershed. This link will help you better understand the water quality of the Olympic venues so that you can compare results to your own data. – Stu Hamilton

Paris Pact on Water and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Basins of Rivers, Lakes and Aquifers

It is good to see that water monitoring is getting discussed in the Paris COP21 Summit including a commitment to “Establish basin-wide networks for monitoring and data exchange and water information systems, which are integrated, permanent, reliable, open, representative, interoperable and accessible, as a decision making support tool for adaptation measures; A seven-year commitment from Jordan, Lebanon, Monaco, Morocco, Spain and Tunisia to assess water resource availability in the Mediterranean region A project in Morocco to increase resilience of the agriculture sector through water-saving irrigation practices; A four-year collaboration in Mexico to improve management of water resources and water services in the Mexico Valley; A three-year commitment from China to improve management of the Hai River Basin; The launch of a hydrological and meteorological monitoring program in the Congo Basin of central Africa that will benefit more than 160 million people. – Stu Hamilton

Disasters without Borders – Regional Resilience for Sustainable Development

Lack of fundamental knowledge and analysis of water resources negates any opportunity to detect long-term emerging threats or potentially destabilizing conditions. Figure IV-17 “A Roadmap to Disaster Information Management” may be useful if you ever need to explain how data that you collect and manage contributes to the ‘right information’ at the ‘right time’ for the ‘right people’ to make effective decisions. – Stu Hamilton

Call For Young Professionals to Help Develop the World Water Week in Stockholm

There are only 10 days left for young professionals to volunteer to provide support to the World Water Wee’s Scientific Programme Committee. Volunteers are needed to develop the programme of seminars on the theme of Water for Sustainable Growth. The themes for the 2016 world water week can be reviewed HERE. Many of these themes are topics that are familiar to regular readers of Hydrology Corner. – Stu Hamilton

Water News: November 2015

Flooding in the South Platte River and Fountain Creek Basins in Eastern Colorado, September 9–18, 2013

This newly published report on a flooding event on the South Platte River in 2013 harkens back to an era when this type of report was common for many agencies not just the USGS. It is more important now, than ever, for the hydrologists and hydrographers who have first-hand knowledge of impactful events to document what they learned for the benefit of others and to preserve what they know for the benefit of future investigators. There are many excuses for not taking the time to create high value reports such as this. Rather than yield to these excuses, the science of hydrology and the development of best practices for water monitoring would be better served by following the example of Robert Kimbrough and Robert Holmes. – Stu Hamilton

The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters (1995-2015)

Flood and drought frequency and magnitude are on the rise. The distinction between an event being a hazard versus a disaster is the degree of preparedness that controls the number of people in harm’s way. We can’t directly control the occurrence of hazards but we can influence the occurrence of disasters by doing a better job of collecting, managing and sharing water data. – Stu Hamilton

WMO: 2015 likely to be Warmest on Record, 2011-2015 Warmest Five Year Period

No big surprise here. Hydrologists around the world have been monitoring record floods and droughts, which are a direct consequence of a long run of anomalously high temperatures. Getting timely, high quality, water data in the hands of decision-makers has never been more important. – Stu Hamilton

The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters (1995-2015)

Flood and drought frequency and magnitude are on the rise. The distinction between an event being a hazard versus a disaster is the degree of preparedness that controls the number of people in harm’s way. We can’t directly control the occurrence of hazards but we can influence the occurrence of disasters by doing a better job of collecting, managing and sharing water data. – Stu Hamilton

WMO Hydrological Observing System

The World Hydrological Observing System (WHOS) has launched a portal to the online holdings of National Hydrological Services around the world that publish their historical and/or real time without restrictions or cost. This is a handy resource, a celebration of progress made in recent years and a grim reminder of how far we still have to go to get universally available data everywhere that it is needed all of the time. – Stu Hamilton

Groundwater/Surface-Water Interactions in the Bad River Watershed, Wisconsin

This report is a good example of the value in moving toward a modeling/monitoring hybrid approach, where data is needed to improve modeling and modeling helps to improve monitoring. The report is a good example of the value in an integrated approach between groundwater and surface water monitoring. This report is also a good example of the value in monitoring stable isotopes. – Stu Hamilton

Global Analysis – October 2015

October 2015 was the warmest in the past 136 years. This sets up for an interesting summer in the southern hemisphere, and an interesting winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Make sure your gauges are tuned up and ready to record some valuable information. – Stu Hamilton

Hunger Spreads in Africa As El Nino Cuts Harvests

It is a sorry state of affairs when the extent of famine becomes our best indicator of the hydrological status in a region. Suppose there was real-time water data freely available for all of Africa, plotted against reliable historical records to put it all in context. How many ways could the planning and preparation for this emerging crisis play out differently? – Stu Hamilton

Earth’s Hidden Groundwater Mapped: Less Than Six per Cent Renewable Within a Human Lifetime

Much of what we believe to be true about total water volume on earth are from crude back-of-the-envelope guesstimates. It will take many more quantitative studies along the lines of this one to get a better idea of the uncertainty in our estimates of global water supply. – Stu Hamilton

Fast Retreat of Zachariæ Isstrøm, Northeast Greenland

The value of monitoring in remote locations is under-appreciated. No one could have predicted how impactful systematic monitoring of a remote glacier could be until something like this happens. – Stu Hamilton

Contentious Issues on the Klamath River

Solving water problems is complicated. The Klamath is a good example of that. Where are the news reports about water problems that were avoided because all stakeholders were aware of risks to sustainable use in the context of hydrological variability? – Stu Hamilton

smwrData—An R Package of Example Hydrologic Data, Version 1.1.1

David Lorenz (USGS) has recently (Nov 6, 2015) published smwrData an R package with USGS datasets that may be a great starter for you if you are interested in advanced post-processing of USGS data. – Stu Hamilton

Federal Agencies Release Data Showing California Central Valley Idle Farmland Doubling During Drought

Water supply and food production: Do we look for new sources of water or new sources of arable land? – Stu Hamilton

Hydrology Corner Blog - Water News Jan 2016

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