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Posts Tagged ‘watershed’

THE RISING TIDEWATER

BY BRETT ANDERSON / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY

Disparate but urgent efforts to address sea-level rise in the Virginia Tidewater, one of the country’s most important strategic centers, are striving to keep up with visible realities.

FROM THE DECEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

The first question that sprang to Ann C. Phillips’s mind soon after she moved to Norfolk, Virginia, in 2006 was, “Why, when it rains, does the whole place submerge?”

She wasn’t referring only to dramatic weather events, although Phillips, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, landed in Norfolk during a bumper crop of those: Norfolk saw more major coastal storms and hurricanes in the 2000s than in the four previous decades combined, according to the city government.

Harder to fathom were the floods caused by light rains and “blue sky floods” triggered by lunar tides. Tidal flooding affects low-lying areas of Norfolk nine times per year on average.

These more regular floods were unlike anything Phillips experienced growing up in Annapolis, Maryland. They’re an alarmingly routine part of life in Norfolk and the surrounding Hampton Roads area (more…)

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BY KEVAN KLOSTERWILL

A custom geodesign process aims to help prototype solutions for the health of a rural watershed.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Sam Ziegler, a corn-and-soybean farmer in southern Minnesota, had a chance to try out a new geodesign tool that could change the way he plants his crops. “It’s always on your mind what you can do better, but it’s hard to physically take an acre or a hundred out of production just to try something,” Ziegler says. “You can’t afford it. But this computer model allows you to play with things and get an understanding of what potentially would be the ramifications and benefits of switching things around.” The tool, operated with a touchscreen, was developed by a team of University of Minnesota (UM) researchers from the fields of landscape architecture, urban planning, economics, and soil and water science.

In the fall of 2013, the research team brought together about 40 community members, including farmers and environmental advocates, who were interested in improving the health of the Seven Mile Creek Watershed near Mankato, Minnesota. The group participated in a series of workshops that culminated with their generating alternative scenarios using an interactive computer model of the watershed. This investigation was supported by background layers such as aerial photographs, parcel lines, and topographic data that would feel familiar to regular users of geographic information systems. Using a 55-inch touchscreen, participants could assign various agricultural land uses to the landscape, including conventional corn and soybeans and perennial prairie grasses. “Basically, it was like painting a map, with some boundaries,” Ziegler says.

Once participants settled on a design, the geodesign program would analyze its environmental performance around various factors such as (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

The DAPL crosses two watershed systems. Map by Alma and Friends.

The recently completed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) will run for 1,172 miles from northwest North Dakota to downstate Illinois, pumping 450,000 barrels of oil per day and costing $3.8 billion to build. Those are superlative numbers that can blot out the complexity and vulnerability of the landscapes and watersheds the pipeline traverses. Making these facets of the DAPL clear is the goal of maps created by an anonymous group of designers calling themselves Alma and Friends. Their work has been collected and packaged by the Los Angeles public television station KCET with a series of articles on the ecological consequences of the pipeline.

These maps detail regional watersheds, individual bodies of water, indigenous lands, the blotches of human settlement that dot this stretch of the Great Plains and midwestern prairie, and past and potential oil spills. Collected into a series of seven interactive maps by KCET, (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

City sewer maintenance trucks get a new graphic rebranding. Image courtesy of group projects.

City officials in San Jose, California, have an environmental graphics and public art project they hope will reduce sewer clogs from fats, oils, and grease that residents put down their kitchen sinks—and it only costs $60,000, a tiny fraction of the millions of dollars it would take to update existing infrastructure to handle more cooking waste. The project, called FOG Waste (FOG stands for fats, oils, and grease) was designed by Brett Snyder, an associate professor of design at the University of California, Davis, and Claire Napawan, an associate professor of landscape architecture at UC Davis, who practice together under the name group projects.

When fatty waste is disposed of in a sink or drain, it can solidify and block sewer lines, causing raw sewage to back up into homes, yards, and streets and potentially affect local watersheds. (You might remember the viral footage of the bus-sized ball of fat discovered in a London sewer, dubbed the “fatberg.”) In San Jose, that means raw sewage in San Francisco Bay, causing havoc in local aquatic ecosystems and posing health risks for residents.

The main design challenge for Napawan and Snyder was developing a graphic identity that could educate people on (more…)

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Horace Mitchell, whose title is lead visualizer of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, has mapped sets of U.S. Geological Survey data on stream flows of the entire Mississippi River Basin, which, of course, includes the Missouri River and Ohio River watersheds. Mitchell traces the streams’ flows from source to mouth (though not at actual stream flow speeds). It takes a while for water to run from the continental divides to the Gulf of Mexico, but it eventually does get there.

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LAMCASTJULY

Drones aren’t all bad, and in an interview with Yale Environment 360, Thomas Lennon, director of this two-minute video of awe-inspiring nature shots of the Delaware River watershed, explains the limitless possibilities drones provide over traditional aerial photography from helicopters. But the potential stretches further than nature videos and becomes a useful tool for environmentalists and artists alike, setting it apart as an aid rather than the controversial weapon the term “drone” is most often associated with. For the two-minute video and interview, click here or the picture above.

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