Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Understanding the life expectancy of our natural resources

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Little River’s new Research Assistant Brooke Hagarty.  Brooke is a Masters student in Forestry at SIU. She also received her B.S. in Forest Hydrology, with a minor in Soil Science, from SIU. Her background includes being a Nature Instructor and Camp Counselor at the local Camp Ondessonk, and a Graduate Teaching Assistant at SIU. Her love of science, nature, and teaching help her fit right in at LRRD, conducting research and speaking to clients about how our river models can help improve their teaching and research.

At a Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) seminar on Southern Illinois University’s Carbondale campus last week, Dr. Richard Cruse gave a presentation titled “SOIL AND WATER: Resources with Decreasing Life Expectancy?”  The presentation was eye opening; I am happy to have attended.

Dr. Richard Cruse is the director of the Iowa Water Center, and a Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University.  He has a heavy background in agriculture, and gave an effective speech on how we are degrading our resources at an alarming rate, in turn threatening food and water security.

There were a lot of numbers and predictions in the seminar, and some of them really stuck out.  He gave some daunting figures for the increase of meat production (mostly cattle) necessary to feed the growing world population and the growth of the middle class.  Predictions estimate that by 2030, 3 billion people will move from the lower to the middle class.  Cruse said that to fulfill the meat demand of the increased middle class, an additional 1 million cattle must be harvested per day.  With increased meat production, there must be increased corn production to feed the livestock.  The more corn production, the more water we use and soil we deplete, as already observed worldwide with the depletion of aquifer levels and farmable soil.  
Currently, Cruse and his colleagues are estimating daily soil loss through the entire state of Iowa using LiDAR data.  Cruse said soil formation occurs at an approximate average of 0.5 tons/ac/year. By averaging the LiDAR data across the state, they found that 5.7 tons/ac/year of soil are lost.  That means the amount of soil lost is an order of magnitude greater than the amount of soil produced in a year, which increases the costs of soil erosion. By losing the topsoil from the field, nutrient application must increase to sustain crop productivity, which leads to a spiral of detrimental effects in our waterways. 

I think my favorite part of the seminar was when Cruse talked about “ownership by convenience.” He said if you ask a farmer if it would be okay to dump a bag of trash on their land, you would expect the farmer to say no, that is their soil. But if you then ask the farmer, “So when the soil erodes from your land and pollutes my waterway, then is that still your soil?” you can expect the farmer to fall silent. At Little River, we promote teaching concepts such as these with our stream tables. They demonstrate river morphology phenomena that cannot be easily observed in the field. This is one of the many advantages to viewing fluvial processes in the compressed temporal and spatial scales of the Emriver models. In addition to education, the UN also provides some solutions to what can be done, including improving technologies and using less water to produce more nutritious food for the world.

As the world population grows, our knowledge of and proper management practices for natural resources must grow too. It is crucial that we teach people how to sustainably manage water and soil and how natural systems such as rivers work in order to increase the life expectancy of our resources.


Several agencies and organizations in Vermont use the Emriver models to teach landowners and policy makers about sound natural resources management. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Em2 at Japan's Izu Peninsula Geopark

Another Emriver Em2 has made its way to Japan. The Izu Peninsula Geopark had its grand opening for a new museum - called Georia - on April 2nd where the Em2 was on display. The stream table also made the local news. This clip talks about the new museum and how it will have more than 60 displays. 

Izu Peninsula Geopark is one of dozens in the Japan Geopark NetworkThere is also a network of geoparks around the world. UNESCO defines a geopark as containing one or more sites of particular geological importance, intended to conserve the geological heritage and promote public awareness of it, typically through tourism. 

Our geomodels are ideal for these settings because they can engage a variety of age groups by allowing hands-on interaction and visualization of how rivers work and how to conserve them.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

REAL using an Emriver Em3 at Harvard.

Not long ago, we sent an Em3 to this amazing lab.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Emriver Em3 Stream Table Proves an Effective Teaching Tool at Illinois High School

We're happy to see Hinsdale Central High School make the news recently, talking about how effective their new Em3 is for teaching Earth Science. I think two students summed up the model's benefits perfectly:
"Sophomore Will Goebel said using the interactive river table is more fun than "looking at boring textbooks and pictures."
"Even if we learned it in the book, we understand it better this way," said Alek Malone, a Hinsdale freshman."
You can also see an example of the Em3 in action at a class hosted at Little River's lab in Carbondale, IL.
An hour with an Emriver Em3 from Steve Gough on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

For Sale or Lease: 514 East Main in Carbondale, Illinois

After a great eight-year run in this building, we’ve moved to a bigger one.

For sale $195,000, we'll consider leasing.

--4,500 square feet
--All level concrete floors with garage door entry
—Truss design; any internal wall can be removed/moved

—Less than 1/2 mile from SIUC campus
—Four blocks to downtown Carbondale.
—Earth sheltered with thick concrete walls on three sides, very solid and secure.
—Faces Highway 13 in Carbondale; the busiest road in town.

—Southern exposure; great light and perfect for solar installation.
—Parking for 16+ cars, easy access.  Plenty of free parking nearby.

—New 30-year metal roof installed by Baine Roofing.
—New, state of the art sun tunnel lighting.
—New HVAC, great insulation and energy efficiency.
—Ground-level access with garage door, and level concrete floor.
—Well-maintained and updated electricals, including three-phase access.
—Underground cable Internet.

This building should be maintenance-free for many years.

Baine Roofing installing metal roof in 2012.

We have updated and fixed all major mechanicals, this building should be maintenance free for many years. 

2008  just after after we moved in.

Contact Steve Gough at stevegough@emriver.com, Beth Fisher at beth.lrrd@gmail.com, or Bob Davenport at (618) 924-3644.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Steven Vogel has died.

Scientist Steven Vogel died today.

In early 2007 I called Steven Vogel out of the blue -- we'd never met -- expecting a short, maybe even hostile response from such an important man. 

We talked for over an hour that first time, and that hour profoundly influenced me and Little River Research.  I knew there was a need for a small turnkey teaching flume and hoped to answer it; he mentioned "swim tunnels" in his papers.

He sent me a stack of notes, and many digital files and said "build it, the world needs it!  I'll help any way I can."  He never mentioned money or credit. 

With amazing scientific and technical skill, and all the math and physics down to basic theory, Dr. Vogel figured out that a ducted propeller (not a noisy, heavy inefficient centrifugal pump) was the way to go with small flumes.  So we used that.
Vogel's 2007 drawing of a "flow tunnel," unpublished.

Vogel's realization of his theoretical best, emailed to me. He said "I'm not good with construction."

Steven Vogel is a hero to me, an amazing cross-disciplinary scientist, educator, researcher, and communicator.  He could do jaw-dropping technical work; his writing was unparalleled; he got away with wry humor in even his journal articles.  His books are marvelous that way.

He cared about educating people, about exposing as many people as he could to the beauty of biomechanics and, as the title of one of my all-time favorite academic books reads, "Life in Moving Fluids."

I never met him face to face, but I see his aims in everything he produced.  He funded much of his research personally. 

Thank you, Steven Vogel.  We shot this video just a couple of weeks ago, for a major launch of our model; and I intended to tell you that this week. 

Emflume1 two-minute overview from Little River Research on Vimeo.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Watch our new video of the Emflume1

Check out our new video on the revolutionary, turnkey, desktop Emflume1. We introduced the Emflume1 in 2013 and it is now in use around the world, helping students in engineering, geosciences, and fisheries learn fluid mechanics with hands-on experience in the lab.

Emflume1 two-minute overview from Little River Research on Vimeo.