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reflections on august 2022

Sunday, 11th of September, 2022

Life

We finally moved into our new home in Brunswick. Feels good to have arrived for real.

International affairs

I had several meetings with two international master students, who will join my group in January 2023 to complete their master theses. One will work on assessing the potentials of green roofing and the other will work on soil-plant-atmosphere modelling. They are currently preparing for their visit by reading up on the literature and carrying out preliminary studies. I'm pretty satisfied with their performance until now.

Adrián Navas from Universidad de Zaragoza may visit us in January as well. He is currently preparing an application for travel funding. It would be great if he could work with us on hyperbolising some diffusion-type equations, so I really hope his application gets funded. On a related note, we are close to signing an Erasmus+ agreement with Adrián's group, which would support the exchange of PhD and master students between our groups.

Publish or perish

Our preprint on version 1.0 of the SERGHEI model is now open for discussion at Geoscientific Model Development. It was a long journey, things got delayed due to COVID and job changes. SERGHEI is a performance-portable high-performance code that targets ecohydrological simulations. Here, performance-portable means that its pcomputational performance stays more or less the same across different computers. In the paper, we demonstrate SERGHEI-SWE, the overland flow module. Here's the link: doi:10.5194/gmd-2022-208, leave a comment!

Zexuan Xu from Berkeley Lab led a paper that simulates hydro-geochemistry in Copper Creek, East River Watershed, Colorado, USA. The paper is published in Water Resources Research: doi:10.1029/2022WR032075

After a long review process, my paper on surface-subsurface interactions in the Lower Triangle, East River Watershed, Colorado, USA, was rejected from Hydrological Processes. Disappointing stuff.

Talking is silver

I gave a talk at phaeno in Wolfsburg on Wasser in Zeiten des Klimawandels. It was my first time in Wolfsburg, it's such a nice city. The audience was great, they asked good questions and kept engaged. Overall great experience.

Reading for pleasure

Heimkehr

I've read Heimkehr (Homecoming) by Wolfgang Büscher. The author spent a year living in a cabin in the woods and the book is a memoir of this time. The book flows well and paints a picture of rural Germany. For me, the part where he witnesses the forest die due to the 2018 drought combined with the ongoing bark beetle infestation was the most interesting part of the book. Another part that hit hard was when the author's mother passes away. It was beautifully written, without becoming cheesy.

Come si fa una tesi di laurea

I've read Come si fa una tesi di laurea (How to write a thesis) by Umberto Eco. It's a classic I hadn't read. Good ideas on note taking and scientific writing. There's value in reading it for people who work in academia. I loved the advice on how to copy a thesis from a different university.

Die Natur der Zukunft

I've read Die Natur der Zukunft (The nature of the future) by Bernhard Kegel. Unlike Magnason's book, this book is just facts. It reports in great detail the disruptions and regime shifts that are expected across Earth's ecosystems due to the ongoing climate change. Reading all these facts starts out interesting but becomes disturbing after a while. The book is neatly written—very German—and gives a good overview of all the challenges that await. It's pretty good.

The part on tree mortality was especially interesting to me. Kegel summarises the extreme drought in Europe that started in 2018 and went through 2020, causing unprecedented damage to German forests. One issue that made German forests especially vulnerable to the drought is that they are industrial monocultures. Such single species ecosystems don't have enough flexibility to navigate a heavy disturbance. In addition, the weakened trees fell victim to a bark beetle plague, which was again amplified by the monoculture nature of the forests. Kegel points out that the regime shift in forests was immediate, without much lag. What needs to be done to secure forests in the future is not entirely clear. For economic purposes, it might make sense to plant non-native, drought resistant trees in mixed systems. However, the optimal combination of species is unclear.

Um tímann og vatnið

I've read Um tímann og vatnið (Water and time — A story of our future) by Andri Snær Magnason. The book is a mixture of Magnason's family history, glaciers, and climate change. Through his family stories, Magnason relates human timescales to geological ones and connects everything beautifully to the ongoing climate emergency. If you have read a book on climate change before, you will not find a lot of new information. The strength of this book is its prose, which is well-crafted, rich, and poetic. It did touch my heart. I may read it again after some time.


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