Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's hot out ... and routing

I'm sure the "it's sunny here/it's raining here" is probably one of the least interesting posts one can make but it had to be done. It's 9:00 pm and there's a neon sign between us and downtown that gives the temperature. It says 34 degrees, which is 94 F. By Friday it should be down to 11 C/50 F. Truth be told though, if this is as warm as it gets, then it's quite tolerable.

I miss my raingage and taking readings every morning. It gives a nice sense of routine and it was a bit like playing the slots (lots of 0's and the occasional big win). Thinking back, the highest rainfall I ever got was about 2 inches (50 mm)/day.

While sick the last couple days I've been reading some articles for work, in particular learning how stream routing models work. In a nutshell, you start with some amount of streamflow at a certain part of the river, say a big flood that is coming through, cresting right now. Routing describes how that flood will travel downstream, e.g. the river will peak 30 miles downstream in a couple hours.

It's pretty dry material, but it's nice finally knowing the equations behind some of the methods I had heard about for years such as Muskingum or Kinematic Wave. It might be a stretch for me to come up with a Doogie Howser type reflective metaphor for how routing is a symbol for how we travel through our lives.

But that's one thing that I think I'm going to enjoy in my time here, that there's quite a bit to learn and now I have the time (hopefully) to learn it. In operational forecasting it was mostly about slapping together the least possible workable solution, often without knowing fully what it is you were slapping together. Similarly, there was a lot of patching leaking holes in the bottom of the operational boat.

I suspect that a good amount of this stuff was taught in grad school, but I just didn't have the perspective to appreciate what it was all about and it didn't sink in. That said, it always amazes me how universal some of the math is, that the model for water flowing over a watershed is the same as how clouds work is the same as how money circulates through the economy or how peanut butter spreads on a cracker. Input minus output equals change in storage is what it all boils down to. That and maybe a little friction.


1 comment:

  1. Ah, fluid dynamics. What, exactly, will you be doing? Pardon my ignorance!