“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.” -Pearl S. Buck
Towering at 146meters (480 feet) Cascada de San Rafael, the tallest waterfall in Ecuador will not look the same once the dam project upstream on the Coca River is complete.
I might say the most drastic transition I could take from a conference with 23,000 scientists in attendance would be to a tiny town in Ecuador, with only my kayak and gear in tow. A breather, whitewater and mountains was all I wanted to wash away the overstimulation of a week in San Francisco. Luckily for me, my passion for learning finds me everywhere I go. On this adventure it found me on the Upper Rio Misahualli when I started chatting with Matt Terry, Executive Director of the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute, a volunteer run organization that he started in 2002. Over dinner in Tena I continued to take in as much information from him as possible. The efforts that he has put into preserving the rivers of Ecuador are phenomenal, the resistance he has faced, and his continued perseverance are mind blowing. His most current work is to keep the Upper Jondachi River flowing by developing well founded opposition to the proposed hydroelectric project that would have lower financial returns than the revenues from the international kayaking community that visits Ecuador every year. ERI is hosting the first annual Jondachi Fest next week to demonstrate the value of this headwater catchment in the proposed Ecological Corridor that Matt has put together.
Although we made our mission an all-ladies trip, we found ourselves surrounded by a wonderful kayaking community in Baeza, the kind of community that makes me fall in love with the river lifestyle over and over again. We met the Wells brothers, a pair of professional kayakers that just released their new two part film 'Journey to the Stikine and the Sacred Headwaters'. I was already impressed by these two after spending a couple of weeks hanging out with them, but watching their film when I returned made me so excited- It is exactly the type of film that the paddling community is prime to deliver- one that gets you stoked about boating and gives you insight into the bigger issues that these rivers and the local communities are facing. My new years resolution - give back to my kayaking family in some way that matches/supports the work the people I met on this trip already have done, and are continuing to do.
Our annual science festival didn't disappoint- AGU was a whirlwind week of introductions, information, delicious food, and beer. The most inspiring part of the conference was the Young Hydrologists Pop-Up session held on Tuesday morning. Sheila Saia and Tim van Emmerik did an excellent job convening the session, with topics that ranged from resilience and risk, to incorporating our creative sides and becoming Renaissance scientists. I did not sit in another session that matched the enthusiasm and quality of presentations that my fellow young scientists delivered over the course of the two hour session. I presented on diversifying our outreach methods, starting from asking what the most important questions are for local stakeholders, to delivering results in more interesting ways (ex. Chasing Ice). These ideas were developed through a semester of meeting a handful of scientists including, Sara Hobbie, Elena Bennett, Craig McClain, and Sara Kimball. As per advise from Craig on building an online empire I have started using twitter, with #futurehydro as my way of keeping track of people that are using innovative cross-disciplinary work to create environmental solutions.
Yes! The season of working too late, and pretending not to procrastinate by finding more advice on power point presentations. I found Kuler tonight, a cool Adobe color wheel that you can use to make custom color schemes. I am so excited to meet all of the young hydrologists that attend the Water Science Pop Ups (future of hydrology) session Tuesday morning (9:30-11:30) in Pacific H of the Marriott!
The AGU (American Geophysical Union) Education group creates a monthly update on outreach events and online resources for students and teachers of every stage. This month's included a link to videos from the National Academy of Sciences' recent national summit on out-of-school STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematic) learning, and climate science resources from the National Science Teachers Association. They also showcased Exploration Station- an open house at the fall meeting in San Francisco for local families, teachers, and kinds. During the free four hour event visitors circulate around 30 exhibits of family friendly and hands on exhibits- I am already excited to see them!
We (the entire McGlynn lab: Fabian Nippgen, me, Brian McGlynn, John Mallard, Christa Kelleher, Erin Seybold, and Maggie Zimmer) recently traveled to the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown WV to attend the CUAHSI (Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrological Sciences) biannual colloquium. The woods of the lower Shenandoah valley were an excellent backdrop for a three day program based on the theme of ‘Water across the critical zone: scaling from local to global hydrology’.
Monday morning Jay Famiglietti from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory gave the keynote speech. The first day of a conference is always brimming with fresh minds and eager ears, but his presentation was unique. In addition to presenting a comprehensive view of changing water resources, he reminded us how important it is for us to contribute on key water issues where we have expertise, and to ask ourselves what our role in science communication is. He has contributed in this way by presenting numerous TED talks, having a strong presence on twitter, and by being a scientific resource for the new feature length film ‘Dam Nation’. For the purposes of scaling to global hydrology, he presented the uses and opportunities of the GRACE satellite. GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) maps changes in earth’s gravity field, which is mainly driven by the redistribution of water. The results he presented are summarized really well in his 2013 Science paper, with the gist being that we have observed wet places getting wetter, and dry place getting dryer (His comprehensive post for Nat Geo here). In their most recent paper they show that the Colorado River Basin lost enough water between 2004 and 2013 to fill two Lake Meads, the largest reservoir in the United States. A significant finding being that during this severe drought 75% of the water lost was due to groundwater depletion. This is a resource that has been depleted in front of our eyes in California (San Joaquin Valley), and in the mid-west (Ogallala Aquifer). Over 2 billion people rely on groundwater for drinking and agriculture, yet, it is poorly monitored, and there are often no regulations on its use (a great post on how/why we should be monitoring and managing our water better ).
Image showing subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley, CA.
From: Impacts of land subsidence caused by withdrawal
of underground fluids in the United States Reviews in
Engineering Geology, 2005.
The second highlight of the conference was the screening of ‘Chasing Ice’ a documentary of the trials and tribulations of James Balog’s efforts to document the worlds diminishing glaciers. The difficulties of getting electronics to work in harsh conditions definitely struck home to those of us that have called our sub alpine watershed (TCEF) home in the springtime. The combination of this excellent film and a high quality presentation, by an impressively engaged scientist did just what I needed this conference to do- inspire and motivate. I am continually impressed with the different ways that people contribute to the distillation and dissemination of environmentally and culturally relevant information. With that said, it should not go unnoticed that our advisor, Brian McGlynn, did an excellent job of crafting the program for this years CUASHI.
Figure: US Department of Energy 2011 Renewable Energry Data Book
It is really exciting to finally see a proposal to drastically cut US CO2 emissions. Hopefully it will be successful, and set a high bar for future legislation on climate change.
Some facts from the EPAs By the Numbers fact sheet:
Power plants are the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US, and make up about 1/3 of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.
The public health and climate benefits that would result from the plan are worth $55-93 billion dollars, outweighing the cost of the plan $7.3-8.8 billion by six-fold.
The public comment period is open and their will be public hearings the week of July 28th in Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, Pittsburg, PA, and Denver, CO.
Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule
Carbon Pollution Standards Site
Also helpful/ interesting- main findings in the form of an interactive web interface with awesome graphics from the National Climate Assessment. An impressive comprehensive report examining the ways climate change is already affecting the US.
Last weekend I volunteered at the Durham Earth Day Celebration and met some really great people!
Th Durham Department of Water Management was selling water efficient shower heads and sink aerators- only $3 at the Durham City Hall! They also had a bunch of propaganda from Water Use It Wisely - a campaign that was launched in 1999 to promote water conservation, it started in Arizona, and has now spread all over the country.
Charge Ahead Durham- Sponsored by various Durham organizations you receive points for environmentally conscience actions, which enter you to win awesome prizes!
I also learned about some really great nontoxic DIY household cleaners that are cheap and environmentally friendly.
May is Bike Month- check out the calendar for a bunch of cool events in Durham!
Photo: Brain Pickings Blog
I just watched this last week - an awesome musical performance with an amazing story of how the dinosaurs went extinct!!
This story has been out for over a month, but I recently stumbled upon this- what an awesome reaction to finding proof to a theory that you developed!
Produced and narrated by Robert Redford Watershed was a great summation of issues surrounding the Colorado river from the point of view of a handful of very different people. It was great to see it screened on the big screen here at the Nic School last week, and have the opportunity to hear from a few people working closely on the subject. Thanks to Chuck Podolak (post-doc and Bureau of Reclamation- western water markets), Peter Cada (Tetra Tech- watershed GIS/modeling group), and Russ Callejo (Bureau of Reclamation Lower Colorado regional liaison) for a great panel discussion!
Watch it here
American Nile- Nat Geo lays it out
Map: National Geographic- original verison here
These Edible Blobs Of Water Could Replace Plastic Bottles!!!
photo: Elite Daily, again thanks to Erwin