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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Bulletin Supplement (Summer 2008)
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STAFF NEWS

 

Dr. Nearing is collaborating with Dr. Roy Morgan from the United Kingdom to edit a comprehensive book on the subject of Soil Erosion Modeling.  The movement of sediment and associated pollutants over the landscape and into water bodies is of increasing concern with respect to pollution control, prevention of muddy floods and general environmental protection.  This concern is in addition to the effects of loss of soil on site with its implications for declining agricultural productivity, loss of biodiversity and decreased amenity and landscape value.  With the expected changes in climate over the coming decades, there is a need to predict how environmental problems associated with sediment are likely to change so that appropriate management systems can be put in place.  Evaluation and predictive tools such as erosion models are needed in order to assess current problems, predict future trends and provide a base for policy and management decisions.  Dr. Nearing and Dr. Morgan have invited the world's experts, including Dr. Ken Renard, to contribute to the book, which is expected to be completed in 2009. 

 

In June 2008, Viktor Polyakov joined Southwest Watershed Research Center as an Assistant Research Scientist. He will conduct experiments and develop knowledge on rangeland erosion for understanding erosion processes for the validation and implementation of erosion decision tools.  Viktor is from the Ukraine. From 1989 to 1995 he studied Forestry at the National Agricultural University in Kiev, Ukraine, where he received Engineer of Forestry degree. In 1996 he proceeded to pursue a graduate degree at Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN, where he received MS in 1998, and PhD in 2002 in Agronomy. He studied sediment transport of rill flow and was developing tracer  technique using rare earth element for tracking sediment redistribution within watershed. From 2002 to 2004 Viktor worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the School of Natural Resources at The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH investigating the effect of soil erosion on soil carbon dynamics and sequestration. He then joined the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI as an Assistant Researcher (2004 – 2005). His responsibilities included conducting watershed scale modeling of non-point source pollution and surface water quality; evaluation of riparian buffers; watershed instrumentation; assisting with teaching. Viktor is married and with his wife, Katerina, raising two children. He enjoys traveling and woodworking.

 

Toby Finke, student in the UA Department of Geography and Regional Development, has been working with SWRC for two years on the use of satellites for mapping impervious surfaces for hydrologic modeling.  He defended his Master’s Thesis in May and he has a job offer in Albuquerque, NM.  Toby will be greatly missed by the entire SWRC staff.  He always offered a helping hand to other students and scientists at SWRC and was a wonderful mentor to our Space Grant intern, Jessica Kashian.  We hope he will return to UA and SWRC at some time in the future.

 

Kevin Loeffelman has moved on to greener pastures!  Kevin has been a physical science technician for the SWRC in Tucson for the past 7 years, and prior to that he worked for the USDA in Ames, Iowa.  Kevin is a laboratory chemist with a Master's degree from Purdue University.  He is moving to Illinois in order to be closer to his family.  We all wish him well!

 

Our 2008 NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Interns did a great job this year and made excellent presentations at the annual state-wide Space Grant Symposium in Tucson last April.  Jessica Kashian, a student with The Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, investigated the effects of urbanization on infiltration rates and stormwater runoff.  Elizabeth Desser, a student in the Geosciences Department, assessed the ability to map NRCS defined Ecological Sites found on hills (>15% slope) based on SSURGO soil maps and geologic maps of the adjacent rock types from the Arizona Geological Survey. Elizabeth is presenting her results as a poster at the 2008 annual meeting of the Soil and Water Conservation Society in Tucson. 

 

Sarahmarie Perez, an extraordinary Senior at Cholla High Magnet School and our first USDA Junior Agricultural Ambassador intern, spent the past month working with several scientists learning about plant physiology, global climate change, rainfall simulation to assess erosion and runoff, and testing new technology for measuring rangeland condition.  As a final component to her internship, Sarahmarie presented her experiences at the Program’s leadership conference in Washington, D.C.  Congratulations Sarahmarie.

 

SWRC Scientists compiled 20 manuscripts providing Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) history, metadata, data access and recent results of WGEW data analysis for publication in the journal Water Resources Research (these can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/dap/wrr.html ).  This Special Section and the associated data (http://www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/dap/) describe 50 years of data collection and the most recent research results at WGEW.  The goal of this compilation is to encourage cooperative, interdisciplinary studies of semiarid ecohydrology at WGEW based on continuing long-term measurements of soils, vegetation, hydrology and climate.

 

FUTURE SCIENCE EVENTS

 

Call for papers:  The Third Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds (ICRW) will be organized by the USGS and held 9-11 September 2008 in Estes Park, Colorado. Attendees may choose to see ongoing research in Loch Vale, an alpine/montaine watershed draining the Continental Divide, or to witness roadside evidence of historic floods from torrential rains and dam failures. The purpose of this conference is to highlight research conducted in small watersheds. This research provides important answers for shareholders charged with managing water resources at the watershed scale and improves our understanding of global processes. The conference will have both oral and poster presentations. Speakers will be invited from universities, ARS, USGS, BLM, EPA, NRCS, and the USFS. Field trips and activities are planned to acquaint participants with alpine and montaine hydrology, ecology, geomophology, and biogeochemisty.  Conference details, travel and lodging information, registration, and other details will be updated on the conference web site (http://www.hydrologicscience.org/icrw/).

 

Call for posters:  The fifth annual Research Insights in Semiarid Ecosystems (RISE) Symposium will be held on Saturday, October 11, 2008, from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm in The University of Arizona Marley Auditorium (Room 230) in Tucson. RISE is organized by SWRC and the University of Arizona School on Natural Resources to share recent results of scientific research at the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) and the University of Arizona Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) and to promote the WGEW and the SRER as outdoor scientific laboratories. For more information, visit http://www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/rise/ .

 

The 2008 Annual Conference of the Soil and Water Conservation Society will be held July 26-30 in Tucson, Arizona (http://www.swcs.org/en/conferences/2008_annual_conference/).  As part of the meeting, Ken Renard and Mary Nichols have organized a full-day tour of Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed with an overview of the watershed research and field stops at Flume 6, the rain simulator, the wind simulator and a demonstration project which incorporate current research into practical practices for ranchers. The tour will take place on Wednesday, July 30, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

 

AWARDS

 

The Department of Interior recognized the Upper San Pedro Partnership (USPP) of southeast Arizona as one of the 21 recipients nationwide of the DOI Cooperative Conservation Award for “excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships”.   The award noted that the “partnership’s diverse membership [21 members, including SWRC Scientists as well as environmental groups, the development community and policymakers] accounts for the consortium’s success in identifying key policy questions, crafting and implementing a science strategy to answer those questions and communicating the science back to the policymakers.”

 

Dr. Nearing has received McMaster Fellowship funding from the Australian research organization CSIRO, and will be traveling to and collaborating with scientists in Canberra, Australia for the months of October through December this year.   The aim of the project is to collate data from Australia in order to test and expand a field scale model for assessing runoff and erosion rates on semi-arid and arid rangelands.  The intent is to develop a better model that is responsive to unique ecosystem and vegetation characteristics that influence infiltration, runoff, erosion, and sediment yields.

 


Last Modified: 7/11/2008
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