Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nice use of fluid mechanics in art.

irregular flow from 4khz on Vimeo.

A nice short music video using fluid mechanics. Can you tell what's going on?

In general I find that when artists use phenomenon like this, the results are not impressive--they tend to be gimmicky and often, particularly with fountains and such, clearly don't work the way the artist intended because the design isn't right. The artists doesn't understand the physics, and fluid behavior is pretty unforgiving, whether in an art piece or bank protection scheme.

Some of the laminar flow fountains I've seen are amazing, and I love the one in Detroit's airport. Can't seem to find the company who made it now, though I talked with a few of their technicians when I was lucky enough to catch them working on it as I flew through last year.

And finally this: One of the great things about blogging. While searching the web for a fountain design I remembered; I ran across this very interesting and well-thought-out design to control a fountain. Something we can definitely use at LRRD!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rosgen disciples: $603,000; taxpayers: zero.

This report from the site today.

I don't know the details, but at first cut this looks like another huge waste up public money facilitated by Dave Rosgen's teaching. An attempt to lock a high energy system tending toward braiding with a history of and capability for channel shifts across its floodplain into a single thread in one position. It just defies geomorphological logic.

We see the usual collection of Rosgen structures, including grade controls (always given another name, but they are there to dissipate energy) which are very tricky to apply in a system like this, if they're appropriate at all. But I have yet to see a Rosgen-inspired project without them.

I like the "collection of gimmicks" quote in the article--it perfectly fits most of these projects I've seen.

There are a lot of red flags, including a clear emphasis on channel stability by the project's proponents.

Again, I don't know the details and hope to hear more about this one. In the absence of Rosgen's influence, perhaps something just as inappropriate would have been done here, but I would argue that he facilitates things like this with his mail-order credentials and one-size-fits-all method that is recognized by way too many regulators and high level decision makers.

A quote from the article, which is very well done I think. Peter Klingman, a critic of the project who teaches restoration at Portland State University and elsewhere, has just taken possession of one of our Emriver Em2 models, by the way.

Developed by Colorado consultant Dave Rosgen, a former Forest Service colleague of Dyrland's, the method is not universally accepted — especially for western rivers prone to migrate across floodplains as wide as the lower East Fork's.

Three scientists criticized Fish First's strategy for the East Fork in a 2003 assessment conducted at the behest of the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board.

"All reviewers were uneasy over a plan that restricted the East Fork to a single thread channel that could reduce channel and habitat complexity," according to a summary of the report by Paul Duane Bakke, a hydrologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Lacey; Cygnia F. Rapp, a geomorphologist from Kingston; and Peter C. Klingman, a consultant from Corvallis, Ore.

One reviewer called the strategy "a collection of 'gimmicks' and manipulations that may not be able to withstand the large flows that are occasionally carried by the East Fork Lewis River."

Screen grab from, Clark County, Washigton.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ridiculous US climate debate hinders real action.

Today the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) published a piece entitled "Columnist's climate change denial distorts reality" in response to a recent Washington Post column (here) by George Will, noting multiple distortions regarding climate change.

As FAIR notes, Will is a widely published columnist, giving his climate change denials a strong impact. It's disturbing to see our national debate framed by people who clearly have an ideological agenda and are willing to bend clearly established facts to make their case.

It's long overdue that we move beyond fake arguments about climate change and towards finding solutions. As I've noted here, climate change has huge implications for river restoration and flooding effects.

From Fair (please read the original, which, unlike Will's article, has links taking you to source documents):

Will made several specious claims in his February 15 column in an attempt to argue that climate change is not a serious concern. (Will has a history of such denial--see Extra!, 5-6/07.)

He started by citing newsmagazine stories from the 1970s that warned of global cooling. The prevailing scientific consensus at that time did not support such claims (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 9/08), but Will likes to pretend that it did--calling it another example of "predicted planetary calamities that did not happen"--in order to bolster the idea that scientists can be wildly off-base. (Will had actually been sent a copy of the BAMS piece by one of the authors after he made a similar false claim last year--Washington Post, 5/22/08. The author reports he "got a nice note back from him thanking me for sharing it", 2/15/09.)

Update: There has been widespread backlash and the Post has has publicly admitted the errors, though the ombudsman pitifully blamed it on Will's fact checkers. Good article here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Climate change and weather extremes.

Here I'll just refer to a couple of typically excellent posts from Jeff Master's Wunderblog. The is on temperature records and extremes, and is an especially good response to the bobbleheads on TV who propose that "it's really cold out there in X-ville this winter, so climate change must be a myth."

The second is on the awful Australian wildfires and how they are probably influenced by climate change, and how we're likely to see more of the same.

Of course I've talked a lot here about climate change, weather extremes, and flooding.

Photo Australian wildfires (outlined in red), taken Feb 7; from Nasa's Earth Observatory.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Detailed list of spending in the federal stimulus bill.

From, a detailed budget. Looks like the House will pass this today pretty much in this form.

A couple of highlights: Nearly $16 billion for Pell grants and $3 billion for National Science Foundation programs.

I'm very disappointed in the Republican tactics we have seen. The calls for fiscal responsibility are a little hypocritical--e.g. Bush cut taxes by $2 trillion as he came into office, to great applause. But this isn't a political blog. Krugman has a good piece on all this in today's Times.

Photo is a view to the north last week from SIUC's renovated Morris Library.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

SIUC stream ecology class meets the Em4.

Matt Whiles brought his graduate stream ecology class to LRRD today for a short lecture and a couple of hours with our river models. This is the first time visiting class we've had since we installed our Em4, and we had a great time. I always enjoy working with stream biologists, and this class was an especially cool one.

The Southern Illinoisan is doing an article on LRRD and I suggested their photographer visit with the class, which worked out very well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fluid mechanics visualization links.

Today, some video links.

You'd think the world would be full of fluid mechanics videos. There are so many beautiful, fascinating phenomena to record. But it's not so easy to capture them.

And even harder to get somebody to pay you to do it. And rare that a good scientist with an artist's eye has the skills to film these things or can find a practical collaborator who does.

And funding.

Of course we have some nice work on our website, and a DVD. And I hope to get funding to make much more. Did I mention money?

For still images and methods, a book I've enjoyed: A gallery of fluid motion by Samimy et al. If you follow this link to you'll see some others listed--I'm not familiar with them but they look interesting. And I've blogged about Schlieren & Shadowgraph Techniques.

These books and much of the visualization out there focus on phenomenon and realms (e.g. non-Newtonian fluids, and wild things like this) not so relevant to those of us who study rivers and their biota. And sediment is shown either in very narrowly-controlled situations or not at all. This is one reason why I shot quite a few videos of simple hydraulic structures interacting with sediment for our last DVD.

Today I learned (from Kyle Strom at the Univ. of Houston) about Ascher Shapiro and the National Committee for Fluid Mechanics Films (NCFMF) he founded in 1961. MIT hosts many videos (unfortunately in RealMedia format) from that project.

The efluids video gallery has some beautiful video, mostly focused on the esoterica of fluid mechanics (to me, anyway). This site has a wonderful gallery of stills here.

And here you'll find the "sediment transport movies" website hosted by Paul Heller at the University of Wyoming.

My current favorite YouTube channel (I've heard YouTube is blocked for many government employees, sorry) is produced by Dawn Sumner at UC-Davis. Dawn has posted a great collection of videos on sedimentology and fluvial geomorphology, including some good fluid mechanics topics.

And here you'll find my YouTube channel, here my YouTube sediment transport playlist, and finally, my fluid mechanics playlist.
(Fish from a video still, River Geomorphology Videos DVD (by me); second from Brethouwer (2000) Mixing of passive and reactive scalars in turbulent flows: A numerical study. Ph.D. dissertation, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

River restoration funding in the stimulus bill.

From American Rivers on passage of the stimulus bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) in the House last week:

H.R. 1 includes $2 billion for drinking water under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and $6 billion for clean water under the Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs, with $600 million set aside for green infrastructure and water efficiency projects. It also includes $400 million in grants for river restoration projects through the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.
I'm not sure how NOAA administers its river restoration money, but would like to find out.* I'm hoping there will be an educational component there, and that not too much of this gets used to install Rosgen-inspired armored meanders. NOAA has some nice info here; looks like dam removal is a priority, and I'm good with that!

One example, also from American Rivers:
For fiscal year 2008, NOAA has awarded American Rivers $600,000 to distribute through this competitive grants program. Stream barrier removal projects in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest and California are eligible to apply. This funding is provided through the NOAA Open Rivers Initiative, which seeks to enable environmental and economic renewal in local communities through the removal of stream barriers and realized benefits to diadromous fish species.

Update: *Did find out--looks like lots of good stuff, with an emphasis on migration barrier removal.

Photo from NOAA's archives, which I discovered in researching this post. (Image ID: wea01735, Location: Mississippi River, Photo Date: 1912)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cara off to RRNW, more media work.

We worked on modeling media issues this week, this time on methods to wash it to remove dust and other debris. Here Cara and Jesse agitate a batch.

The street value of the exotic color-coded-by-size media in the buckets you see here beside an Em4 box is about $6,000.

Cara leaves tomorrow for the River Restoration Northwest (RRNW) symposium near Portland. We're contributing an Emriver Em2, which will be used at the symposium and then at both Portland State University and Oregon State. Thanks to Janine Castro and Peter Klingeman for facilitating this. It'll be used for classes and also loaned out.

We all struggled with a winter storm this week--I was the only one to make it a couple of days. Farther south, in Kentucky, the ice was horrible, and many people will be without power for several days.