28 December 2011

Catching up, new ventures, new year...

So my posting schedule sure fell off there once my first Ph.D. semester started at the University of Wisconsin... sorry about that.  Classes kept me busy, and I worked on a little bit of start-up research toward my dissertation program.  On a positive note, much of what I did this Fall semester will lay the groundwork for one or more ongoing collaborations and projects.

In one class I looked at flow records and calculated flow and flood statistics for the Athabasca River in Alberta, Canada.  It seems that not much has been studied that far north, but it's an important area for all of the retreating Rocky Mountain glaciers, expanding agriculture, uncertain boreal forest health, and burgeoning oil-sands mining in what was once an otherwise pristine, unregulated watershed.  More on that soon, as I rework my class project report into something of a publication draft for eventual submission with the course professor and my advisor.

In my other course this semester, we learned to process and interpret remote sensing imagery of some very interesting places around the world, one of which in eastern Europe experienced a high-wind event in 1995 that felled forests across the Carpathian Mountains.  The stress of this event and other conditions on the European forest led to a subsequent pest invasion, and determining the signature and extent of damaged forest area in an area of Romania was one of the results of my work on that class project.  With more work, that damage might be identified and tracked over time and, with ancillary data on climate and weather and local forestry practices, could help explain much of the forest health issues in that part of the world.

On top of coursework and my obligations there, I've identified a National Science Foundation opportunity that could very well help support the remainder of my Ph.D. program.  That idea is expansive, far-reaching, and staying (for the most part) under my hat for now while I work out the pre-proposal project description that I hope to submit to NSF by the middle of January.  If that is approved, I'll be writing a full proposal in the NSF style and may post some of my proposal materials here as I work through the topics and issues to be addressed.  That will be during the Spring semester, for which I'm planning a couple more classes that will either support later efforts or, again, lead to potentially publishable project work...

The book reviews will continue, albeit more slowly.  I'm still working my way through David Zetland's The End of Abundance: Economic Solutions to Water Scarcity and have received review copies of the AWWA's The Business of Water: A Concise Overview of Challenges and Opportunities in the Water Market edited by Steve Maxwell (co-author of The Future of Water, which I reviewed previously) and William Sarni's Corporate Water Strategies for this blog.  These titles should all work well together, though I'll probably write linked reviews instead of a much longer combined review.  Needless to say, I'll be looking into the economic theory of water in the resource commons, and that's not exactly an easy topic to wrap one's brain around...

Just recently, I've started a Tumblr mini-blog called "The Journal of Blah..." that is a collection of published articles with their on-line reference locations and abstracts.  Basically, I keep track of a lot of professional and academic journals, but I don't have time to read everything that looks interesting as soon as I see it published.  Instead of downloading articles and storing them indefinitely, then trying to find them again later, my new Tumblr serves as something of a public-access reference collection and management system, since I can include the abstracts and bibliographic information as well as my own tags on the subject matter.  Later, when I want some background on a particular topic, I can simply search the Tumblr to get me started, and go to more comprehensive databases (e.g. ISI Web of Knowledge/Science) from there for references and citations.  I put it out there to make it available to everyone, sort of an interest-oriented ongoing collection of journal articles that may end up mentioned here or used in my research, or just listed there because I find the subject fascinating and think someone else might be interested too.  Oh, and why did I call it that?  As I mention there, because it's a shorter title than "A personalized journal of select articles on hydrology, water resources, climate, weather, ecology, geology, forests, resource governance, fluvial systems, geomorphology, open-channel hydraulics, groundwater, engineering, mapping, remote sensing, complex networks, and so many other subjects that pique my interest."

And finally, following on my last book review before my Fall semester started, I've been talking a lot with Cynthia Barnett about her words and ideas in Blue Revolution: Unmaking America’s Water Crisis and we are collaborating on a new Google+ page exploring some of the subjects from her research for that volume, primarily news stories and subject reports, as well as where things are headed for the establishment of a water ethic in the U.S.  I am the primary manager on that page, so if you have items that are worth sharing with that audience, please just send them along!  If you are on Google+ please add The Blue Revolution to one or more of your circles, and tell your friends and colleagues about us!

More soon, over this brief Winter break from classes...