Envisioning hydrometric data to enhance management of river systems

Scott Banjavcic, John Sloat, Steve Bird, Arthur R Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Professor Dr. Edward R. Tufte of Yale University, a leading expert on visualizing scientific information states that, 'We envision information in order to reason about, communicate, document, and preserve knowledge...' and also, 'Modern data graphics can do much more than simply substitute for small statistical tables. At their best, graphics are instruments for reasoning about quantitative information.' Advances in hydrometric instrumentation have made possible unprecedented resolution in the data that describe processes occurring in streams and the surrounding riparian corridor. Although the instrumentation used in hydrometric studies has evolved rapidly, the analyses and interpretation of the resulting data has largely focused on the improved precision the resulting data provide for the same analyses that were done with earlier instruments. From a management perspective, the driving force behind the transition to the newer instrument technology is the improved measurement efficiency coupled with providing improved precision. However, by primarily focusing on the improvements to precision and efficiency of what was done with less sophisticated instruments, we may miss opportunity to provide much greater understanding of the phenomena occurring in riverine systems. This paper examines the hypothesis that the efficiency and precision improvements that led to adoption of the new technology represent a small fraction of the potential benefit of modern measurement technology. The new instruments provide the opportunity to develop new measurement protocols that employ multiple sensors to obtain data describing in-situ phenomena that were impractical or impossible to measure only a few years ago. Analysis tools that couple the high-resolution data streams from multiple instruments and then present the merged data in graphics that illustrate the interactions among multiple processes allow for unprecedented understanding and reasoning about what is occurring in the river system. This paper will present case studies illustrating the coupling of multiple sensors, now measurement protocols, and data visualization to provide insight into processes occurring in streams and show how this insight facilitates management decisions for the streams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 2015
Event36th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium: The Art and Science of Water, HWRS 2015 - Hobart, Australia
Duration: Dec 7 2015Dec 10 2015


Other36th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium: The Art and Science of Water, HWRS 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ocean Engineering
  • Oceanography
  • Water Science and Technology


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