Wow! I won the “strange quark” (2nd place) award in a science writing contest, hosted by Three Quarks Daily, for blogging about the Mississippi River, floods, levees, and the illusion of control.
As I wrote in the comments at 3QD:
Wow! I never thought I’d actually win something for writing about stuff for fun. Thank you to Dr. Lisa Randall for selecting me, the folks at Three Quarks Daily for hosting this contest and boosting me into the finals. I am deeply honored to be a winner of the 3 Quarks Daily contest, and incredibly impressed by the company I’m in.
The 1993 Mississippi River floods were the event that made me become the scientist I am today, so I really wanted to do a creditable job explaining the perspectives and nuances of flood management. Based on the response to the piece, I must have done OK! But now I’ve set myself the goal of bringing that same quality of writing to more blog posts and my scientific papers, so I may be in trouble if they don’t live up to the high praise that this post has gotten.
Thanks to my readers for supporting me in the contest and in blogging generally. Special thanks to my co-blogger Chris for giving me a place to write and for encouraging and supporting me every day.
Major congratulations to two Watershed Hydrogeology Lab graduate students who have finished writing their MS theses and will defend them next week. Ralph McGee and Cameron Moore both started in our MS in Earth Science program in August 2009, and less than two years later they have each completed impressive MS projects on headwater streams in Redlair Forest of the North Carolina Piedmont.
Ralph McGee will present his research on “Hydrogeomorphic processes influencing ephemeral streams in forested watersheds of the southeastern Piedmont U.S.A.” on Thursday, May 12th at 10:00 am in McEniry Hall, room 111 on the UNC Charlotte campus.
The unofficial title for Ralph’s work is “Tiny Torrents Tell Tall Tales.” Watch the video below to see why.
Cameron Moore will present his research on “Surface/Groundwater Interactions and Sediment Characteristics of Headwater Streams in the Piedmont of North Carolina” on Friday, May 13th at 9:00 am in McEniry Hall, room 111 on the UNC Charlotte campus.
When Cameron started working on this project, I had thought that the story would focus on how fractured bedrock contributed to groundwater upwelling in the streams, but it turns out the small debris jams (like the one below) are the dominant driver of groundwater/stream interactions and spatial variability of channel morphology.
Looking upstream at a debris jam in Deep Creek
Faculty, students, and the public are encouraged to attend the presentations and ask Ralph and Cameron any questions they may have.
There’s a nice interview of me in today’s Charlotte Observer, where I opine on blogging as a professor, North Carolina’s #1 water resource problem, and bottled versus tap water. T. Delene Beeland did a great job with the interview questions, and my fabulous photo is courtesy of Annie Harrison.
The front page feature of today’s Oregonian (Portland’s major newspaper) features research on groundwater in the Cascades: The secret’s out: Tons of water in Oregon’s Cascades.
Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State University have in recent years quietly realized that the high Cascades in Oregon and far Northern California contain an immense subterranean reservoir about as large as the biggest man-made reservoirs in the country.
The secret stockpile stores close to seven years’ worth of Oregon rain and snow and is likely to become increasingly precious, even priceless, as population and climate add pressure to water supplies.
The reservoir hides within young volcanic rock — less than 1 million years old — in the highest reaches of the Cascades. The rock is so full of cracks and fissures it forms a kind of vast geological sponge. Heavy rain and snow falling on the rock percolate into the sponge, like a river filling a reservoir.
“It’s not just the fact we get a lot of rain in Oregon that gives us copious amounts of water,” says Gordon Grant, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station leading the research. “It’s the unique geology — the plumbing system — that allows us to retain much of it.”
Much of the work summarized in the article was associated with my Ph.D. research. For some of the details, you can read here and here. For a more complete list of related publications, see here.