Bringing Humans into the water cycle
November 3, 2022 7:18 PM   Subscribe

Bringing Humans into the water cycle [via mefi projects, where you can learn more about the project]
posted by aniola (9 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
A man's flesh is his own; the water belongs to the tribe.
posted by Zarkonnen at 12:09 AM on November 4, 2022 [10 favorites]

Came here for the Dune reference, was not disappointed.
posted by _Lasar at 4:05 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is so cool! Please do read rockindata's explanation in the projects post. Highlights re. Improved scientific accuracy:

... incorporates human impacts on water quantity, including how we use water (like irrigation withdrawals...holding back water in a reservoir... hot water discharges from a thermoelectric power plant....picking up contaminants as it runs over urban streets).

...shows multiple watershed types in a variety of environments... includes pools and fluxes often left off other diagrams, including oceans, wetlands, permafrost, soil moisture, and especially groundwater (a large pool that’s hard to understand and visualize).

Groundwater is depicted by pore space and fractures, not an underground river, which is incorrect. We show that aquifers can be isolated (confined) or connected by porous rock or fractures, with or without pathways for recharge, and can be affected by human activity.
posted by evilmomlady at 4:33 AM on November 4, 2022

I am so excited about this work, that was done by folks in my division over the course of the last several years. Something that is not mentioned is that this new diagram was put together by a team of new hires. The team has no cis men, which is pretty remarkable in an organization (USGS) and scientific discipline (earth sciences) that is mostly made up old straight white men. The diversity of the team is no mistake, and is the result of very intense recruiting work such as this cluster hire which resulted in hundreds of amazing applicants, many of whom would never have found out about the job through the traditional "put the position of and hope" process that is typical of USGS and federal hiring overall.

A few additional resources:

The launch party video which includes some very approachable lightning talks by USGS scientists, as well as a lot of details about the diagram and how we got there.

"Not Your Childhood Water Cycle", in EOS includes a lot of background information on how the water cycle diagram came to be.

Dr. Marshall Shepard, who last spring posted a rant on the the current state of water cycle diagrams just posted a positive review of this new diagram

The old water cycle has been translated into over 60 languages. The new one is currently available in English and Spanish, with a version in Mandarin on the way. If you have the skills (or know of someone with the skills) to translate it into other languages, drop me a memail and I will connect you with the team.
posted by rockindata at 5:07 AM on November 4, 2022 [11 favorites]

I am delighted to see a nested, interconnected systems representation of something so mind-bogglingly complex, so staggeringly important, made simple and approachable in this way. Publications like these, particularly agency publications, are taken as Terribly Official authoritative reference documentation by the lay population and are really important.

This is incredible work and I would love, love, love, to hear more about the process that got this out there.
posted by majick at 6:40 AM on November 4, 2022 [4 favorites]

This is great, thank you for posting it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:53 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

I teach physical geography. I love the water cycle, and I love this!
posted by mollweide at 7:31 AM on November 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

lightning talks by USGS scientists

I suspect this is a bait-and-switch, like when I picked up a book on bees and saw that the last chapter was Recipes but it was just recipes using honey.
posted by neuron at 11:16 AM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Hah! Yes they are short (e.g. lightning) talks about research into different components of the water cycle, not actually anything to do with lightning.
posted by rockindata at 12:34 PM on November 4, 2022

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