Hydrologists to flood into Wellington for annual conference

By Waiology 01/12/2011

By Daniel Collins

hydrosocIf you notice groups of people in Wellington next week using such vernacular as ‘discharge’, ‘piezometric’ or ‘A block’, then they’re probably attending the NZ Hydrological Society’s conference at Te Papa. It’s the society’s 50th conference, and many of the talks will be on the history of hydrology in New Zealand.

If you’re there, tell us how awesome Waiology is, and give us some feedback!

For my part, I’m giving two talks and presenting one poster. (Yes, I’m a masochist, but I do like to get the science out as you might have noticed.) Fellow Waiologist, Ross Woods, is giving a keynote address on his journey as a hydrologist, having won the Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award last year. He’s also giving a regular talk on our Waterscape programme and the decadal variations of river flow. Over a dozen other NIWA scientists will also be giving talks and posters.

My first talk is on the history of terrestrial ecohydrological research in New Zealand — where hydrology meets plant physiology and ecology. This has been a fascination of mine for years. I will be giving a few vignettes of the research from across the scientific fields, but because I am taking an historical approach, I will also describe the social context of this research. There’ll even be a couple of controversies.

The second talk will be on the hydrological effects of climate change in New Zealand. While it’s easy to find information on how climate change may affect how weather, what is arguably more important to most of us is how climate change may affect our freshwater resources and ecosystems. So I will be presenting a review of research to date. A peer-reviewed review article is also in the works, but it will likely be many months away.

The third presentation — the poster — looks at the relationships between groundwater levels (specifically, piezometric heads) and stream flows around Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere, Canterbury. The novel development in this piece of work is a physically plausible model that links regional groundwater conditions to local surface water conditions. I also offer advice on how to set up observation networks in order to get the necessary data to create such a model.

I’ll cover each of these presentations more fully on Waiology at some later stage, so if you’re not in the conference audience then stay tuned.