OSU Water in the News

Below is a collection of news stories featuring OSU water faculty and students. To add to this list, please email iww@oregonstate.edu


Open position at WSEO-GW (IWW News 07/17/2014)

Looking to expand your collection of rattlesnake skin belts and cowboy hat bands? Want to travel the famous Snow-Chi-Minh trail? Ever wondered if there truly is a Broken Back anticline made famous by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Annie Proulx?

Then consider joining the groundwater group at the Wyoming State Engineer's Office as outlined in the attached posting.

Where Will The World's Water Conflicts Erupt? [Infographic] (Popular Science 06/13/2014)

As the climate shifts, rivers will both flood and dry up more often, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Shortages are especially likely in parts of the world already strapped for water, so political scientists expect feuds will become even more intense. To track disputes worldwide, researchers at Oregon State University spent a decade building a comprehensive database of international exchanges—-both conflicts and alliances—over shared water resources.

Water Bureau: Mt. Tabor reservoir will be emptied despite clean tests, minimal health risks, national derision (Oregonian 04/17/2014)

From a public health protection standpoint, it’s not necessary to get rid of the water,” said Anna Harding, co-director of the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences at Oregon State University. “The urine, which has very few microorganisms to begin with, would be very, very, very, very diluted.”

Researcher: Data shows low snowpack years will happen more frequently (EarthFix 04/09/2014)

It would be easy to write this season off as freak occurrence, one of those years bound to happen now and again. But a growing body of research by Oregon State University suggests snow-challenged years are already becoming more common and are likely to increase in decades to come.

Urban areas tough on fish – but Portland leads way on mitigation (OSU News & Research Communications 12/30/2013)

Metropolitan areas – and even small towns – can have a major impact on the waterways carrying fish, researchers say, but many progressive cities are taking steps to mitigate these effects. The issues, policies and impacts of urban areas on salmon, steelhead and trout are the focus of a new book, “Wild Salmonids in the Urbanizing Pacific Northwest,” published by Springer. Dozens of scientists contributed to the book, which was edited by Kathleen Maas-Hebner and Robert Hughes of OSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Alan Yeakley of Portland State University, who was senior editor.

New study finds charred forests increase snowmelt rate (OSU News & Research Communications 09/17/2013)

When a major wildfire destroys a large forested area in the seasonal snow zone, snow tends to accumulate at a greater level in the burned area than in adjacent forests. But a new study found that the snowpack melts much quicker in these charred areas, potentially changing the seasonal runoff pattern of rivers and streams.

The study by Oregon State University researchers, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, documented a 40 percent reduction of albedo – or reflectivity – of snow in the burned forest during snowmelt, and a 60 percent increase in solar radiation reaching the snow surface.

The reason, the researchers say, is that fires burn away the forest canopy and later, the charred tree snags shed burned particles onto the snow, lowering its reflectivity and causing it to absorb more solar radiation.

Results of the study were published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

What 3.6 degrees means for snowpack in the Western Cascades (Oregon Public Broadcasting 07/25/2013)

Rising temperatures will reduce the peak snowpack in the Cascades slopes east of Eugene, Ore. by more than fifty percent, according to a climate study Oregon State University researchers published Thursday. (see also Nature World NewsKTVZPhys.org)

Calming the Waters (Corvallis Gazette-Times 06/24/2013)

OSU prof honored for his role in mediating international water disputes

“Water management,” says Aaron Wolf, “is conflict management.”

He should know. Wolf, an Oregon State University geography professor and director of the university’s Program in Water Conflict Management and Transformation, has traveled the world mediating some of the planet’s most intractable water disputes.

Earlier this month Wolf traveled to Italy to accept an international prize for his work in the field. The Monito del Giardino (“Warning from the Garden”) Award, bestowed by the Bardini and Peyron Monumental Parks Foundation of Florence, comes with a substantial amount of prestige: Last year’s recipient was primatologist and environmental activist Jane Goodall.

Dam construction to reduce greenhouse gases causes ecosystem disruption (OSU News and Research Communications 06/18/2013)

Researchers conclude in a new report that a global push for small hydropower projects, supported by various nations and also the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, may cause unanticipated and potentially significant losses of habitat and biodiversity.

An underlying assumption that small hydropower systems pose fewer ecological concerns than large dams is not universally valid, scientists said in the report. A five-year study, one of the first of its type, concluded that for certain environmental impacts the cumulative damage caused by small dams is worse than their larger counterparts.

The findings were reported by scientists from Oregon State University in the journal Water Resources Research, in work supported by the National Science Foundation.

Small dams on Chinese river harm environment more than expected, study finds (American Geophysical Union 05/28/2013)

A fresh look at the environmental impacts of dams on an ecologically diverse and partially protected river in China found that small dams can pose a greater threat to ecosystems and natural landscapes than large dams. Although large dams are generally considered more harmful than their smaller counterparts, the research team’s surveys of habitat loss and damage at several dam sites on the Nu River and its tributaries in Yunnan Province revealed that, watt-for-watt, the environmental harm from small dams was often greater—sometimes by several orders of magnitude—than from large dams.

Because of undesirable social, environmental, and political implications, the construction of large dams often stirs controversy. Current policies in China and many other nations encourage the growth of the small hydropower sector. But, “small dams have hidden detrimental effects, particularly when effects accumulate” through multiple dam sites, said Kelly Kibler, a water resources engineer who led this study as part of her PhD research while at Oregon State University in Corvallis. “That is one of the main outcomes of this paper, to demonstrate that the perceived absence of negative effects from small hydropower is not always correct.”

She and Desiree D. Tullos, also a water resources engineer at Oregon State and Kibler’s PhD advisor, report their findings in a paper accepted for publication in Water Resources Research, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. Kibler now works as a researcher at the International Centre for Water Hazard & Risk Management in Tsukuba, Japan, and as an Associate Professor at Japan's National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo.