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Bulletin Supplement (Winter 2009)
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In the News


SWRC Scientists were in the news recently.  John Smith, the Supervisor at the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed, and SWRC Scientists Ken Renard and Jeff Stone were the topic of an article in the Tombstone Epitaph (  Mary Nichols' work with a digital camera on a robotic panning mount was highlighted in the Arizona Daily Star (

New Hires


James Gregory is a new Physical Science Technician stationed at the Tombstone office.  He graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2004 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with emphasis in Soil Science working with Tom Meixner and Yvonne Wood.  Lab and field work contributed to a publication in the Journal of Environmental Quality (Altered Ecohydrologic Response Drives Native Shrub Loss Under Conditions of Elevated Nitrogen Deposition, Wood, Y. et. al.). In 2008, he graduated from Utah State University with an M.S. in Ecology. His thesis, "Soil Moisture Responses In Traditional and Drought Adapted Landscapes In The Intermountain West" studied soil-plant interactions under extended drought conditions. He looks forward to working with the USDA, ARS and to continue to learn and support research activities at the Walnut Gulch and Santa Rita Experimental Watersheds.


Zach Sugg is working on an MA in Geography at the UA while working as a research assistant at the SWRC with Susan Moran.  His thesis will address the intersections between climate change, water availability, and water policy, and how vegetation transition can be used to study them.  Zach earned a BS in Geography from Texas A&M University in 2004, and after a stint as a Congressional intern in the US House of Representatives, spent 3 years at the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC. His work at WRI focused on modeling the environmental impacts of domestic agricultural biofuels policies, in addition to projects on mapping global eutrophic zones and adapting NOAA's N-SPECT GIS hydrologic model to watersheds along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef.  


Leonard Cratic III is a Space Grant Student working for Jeff Stone.  Leonard is a junior at the UofA majoring in Electrical Engineering.  His career goal is to start his own business in an electrical engineering field.  Leonard spent the summer working with Jeff on a rainfall simulator experiment designed to quantify hydrologic and erosion processes on rangelands.  His Space Grant project is to determine if there is a relationship between soil aggregate stability and sediment yield using data from the rainfall simulator experiment.


Fellowship Reports


Mark Nearingcompleted a three-month McMaster Fellowship with CSIRO in Canberra, Australia.  The primary purpose of the visit was to adapt and test the USDA Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model for adaptation and application in Australia.  Dr. Nearingassessed grazingland sites in the Burdekin Catchment in Queensland where runoff and erosion data has been collected on grassland covered hillslopes as part of the research goals related to sediment delivery to the Great Barrier Reef.  Assessment of the data from sites in Queensland showed promise for application and testing of the model using this data, and plans were made with Dr. Wilkinson, CSIRO to transfer the data, with joint publication of the results expected.  Dr. Nearingand Dr. Wilkinson also initiated a plan to collaborate on the testing and evaluation of runoff and sediment equipment being used in the Burdekin at the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Arizona, USA.  Dr. Nearingand Dr. Peter Hairsine also collaborated on a project to review uncertainty associated with predictions in hydrologic and sediment models with a goal toward guiding the user in model selection particularly as it relates to model complexity. 


David Goodrich completed a two-month OECD Fellowship in New Zealand.  During the summer of 2008 (in the northern hemisphere), Dave split his time between the University of Auckland, Department of Engineering Science and the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric (NIWA) Research in Christchurch via an Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) travel fellowship.  The research being pursued there is to assess the worth of internal watershed observations in hydrologic model calibration in hydrologically distinct envirnonments (the semiarid Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed to the humid Maharungi Watershed in New Zealand).




Bill Emmerich retired in 2008 after nearly 30 years with SWRC.  Bill started his research career at the University of California, Riverside as a research assistant in 1975 and has been a soil scientist with the Southwest Watershed Research Center since 1981.  During this time, he has engaged in productive research assignments in sewage sludges, water quality, water harvesting systems, seed germination, soil infiltration, rangeland burning influences on surface runoff and erosion, chemical transport, and nutrient cycling besides the present assignment.  He has authored or co-authored 67 total publications and abstracts, 28 refereed journal publication of which 17 were first author and more than 55 presentations to professional societies and national and international audiences.  His early publications on sewage sludges and soils have received National attention and recently provided the foundation for sludge research in Argentina as environmental concerns have increased.  Recent publications on burning research have been utilized to develop BLM monitoring protocols for prescribed burning in shrub-steppe ecosystems.  As a result of his broad research experiences in arid rangeland environments, Bill was recruited to be part of the ARS Carbon Flux Project.  In his carbon research assignment, he has assumed a leadership role in formulating concepts and fruitful research ideas that brought together SWRC scientists and university collaborators to incorporate remote sensing and modeling into his carbon research program.


In October 2008, after more than 4 decades of service, Waite Osterkamp retired from the US Geological Survey. A self-described "Geo-Generalist", Waite focused on hydrology, erosion, and sedimentation, but he also had a deep understanding of the connections between the many fields of study that link biotic and abiotic systems, as well as the philosophical issues arising in the scientific study of natural systems. Waite worked with a number of the early giants in geomorphology like Luna Leopold. Colleagues consider him a giant in his own right, although his self-deprecating sense of humor makes it easy to underestimate his impact. One of Waite's largest projects was as the principal scientist responsible for dating the islands in the Snake River, which was the focus of a substantial federal/state lawsuit over control of the islands. Waite has been a close collaborator with the SWRC over the years, contributing to the development and testing of the RUSLE and WEPP erosion models, co-authoring many publications, and mapping the geology and geomorphology of the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed. His uncompromising scientific integrity ensures substantial effort on his part whenever a manuscript needs review, a student (or colleague) needs advice, or an effort to promote more systematic data collection needs support. Waite has had a part time office at the SWRC for a number of years. Now that he is retired, we hope he spends more time with us!


Important Reports and Visitors


Annukka Lipponen of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) visited SWRC on November 26th to share information about G-WADI, a global network to promote water and development collaboration in arid lands.


Professor Yuichi Onda and 6 other researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan visited the SWRC on December 11 and Walnut Gulch on December 12. Professor Onda studies soil erosion and sedimentation in Japan and China, primarily using cesium-137 and lead-210 isotopes.


A major EPA and ARS report entitled The Ecological and Hydrological Significance of Ephemeral and Intermittent Streams in the Arid and Semi-arid American Southwest was released in Dec. 2008 at the EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers 404 Enforcement workshop in Washington, D.C.  This effort was led by Lainie Levick and a pdf of the report is available at:


This year, we completed a 5-year project to combine microwave remote sensing with land surface modeling to map soil moisture for national security applications (termed the Army Remote Moisture System,ARMS).  Work was supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Topographic Engineering Center (USACE-ERDC-TEC)  with contributed efforts of Scientists from SWRC, NASA and University of Wyoming.  ARMS provides upper-layer (to 30 cm) soil moisture at moderate resolution (100s of meters) over large areas (10,000 km2) based on internationally available data.  The approach is being validated at three ARS watersheds in AZ, OK and GA to determine accuracy and ensure operational application.  The prototype has been demonstrated to Army staff and is being considered for incorporation into the Future Combat System.  Key scientific advances from ARMS researchare summarized at, where project publications can be downloaded.




Mark your calendars:  The 6th Annual Research Insights in Semiarid Environments (RISE) conference is scheduled for Saturday 3 October 2009 at University of Arizona.  Nearly 100 people attended the 5th Annual RISE in 2008 and the discussions at the poster session were lively.  Information about agenda and abstract submission for the 6th RISE will be forthcoming.


The ARS Pacific West Area is planning a Remote Sensing Workshop in Albany California on 29-30 April.  Dr. Andy Hammond (PWA Director) will be announcing the Workshop to PWA ARS Scientists shortly.




Our IT Specialist Jason Wong won the 2008 ARS Award for Excellence in Information!  He will go to Washington this month to receive the award from the Director of ARS.  Jason humbly responded that he is "having fun with the work I do here, playing with the latest gadgets and such."  We all know that you are the best, so it is good to know that the agency also recognizes this. 

Team AGWA (the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment tool) was awarded a 2008 ARS Technology Transfer Award for outstanding efforts in transferring innovative watershed analysis technology to the public, regulatory, and scientific communities.  AGWA was developed jointly by the SWRC, EPA, Univ. of Arizona, and the Univ. of Wyoming.


Susan Moran was elected Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in the section on Section on Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources.  The AAAS is the largest and most respected scientific society in the world.