Thursday, June 7, 2018


Shifting shorelines: a process-based approach
to sea level rise resilience in Grays Harbor estuary
(2017 Master of Landscape Architecture thesis) 

Structures and partnerships 

for sustainable fisheries 
in El Salvador's Bahía Jiquilisco

Harvest Park

Jumping Watersheds,

From Wetland to War Machine
tracing historic shorelines of
the Duwamish River watershed
and Lake Washington

Launch Day 2200

a regenerative settlement on Mars
to improve life on Earth

Saturday, April 7, 2018

It all starts with a question: Global tidal energy harvest?

Future tidal energy production hotspots, based on the energy dissapated as water collides into continental shelves.

Tidal energy - and how to harvest it - came up twice in the past week.  Once via an engineer's presentation to the Washington Coast Marine Advisory Council, and later in conversation with a rural coastal community leader.  The former was interested in generalized sustainable energy production for the region, while the latter was in regard to addressing energy needs for desalinizing water for local use.

Today's energy infrastructure has a definitive footprint on the economies and environment of today's energy-producing regions.  Oil refineries, windmills, and mines create familiar yet profound landscapes.   Tidal energy has yet to take hold, but has massive potential: potential for human development demands to further alter our oceans, and potential for the cosmotic planet-moon-gravity-water* relationship to feed these demands in perpetuity**.

How would new mega-infrastructure for tidal energy capture play out locally? How would it impact global systems?  The map above points out tidal energy hotspots around the globe, where a new industry could take root.  Below is a map of current oil and shale hotspots. 

For comparison: oil and shale gas basins, drivers of today's world.  Map via US Energy Information Administration.
*Earth's gravity holds the water to the planet, while our moon's gravity pulls it away.  As the two rotate and revolve, we get tides.  

**though the slowing of Earth's rotation could alter these dynamics... or cause an increase in earthquakes, and resulting events such as tsunamis. Though this all may likely occur on a timescale greater than we can usually act on, many coastal communities have already experienced, rebuilt from, planned for tsunamis.  Much of this planning is happening today, so perhaps this line of thought could factor in to risk assessment, project design, and prioritization: 
the creeping speed of Earth's deceleration, 
connected to potential increased likelihood of earthquakes in certain locations, 
connected to the likelihood of ensuing tsunamis impacting these locations... 
Risk = impact x probability

Egbert, G.D.; Ray, R. (2001). "Estimates of M2 tidal dissipation from TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter data". Journal of Geophysical Research. 106 (C10): 22475–22502., via Wikipedia "Tidal Resonance" page

Monday, February 1, 2016

FTB40 - "Antarctic Icebergs as a Global Fresh Water Source," 1973

"This report is intended to provide background knowledge for potential users and suppliers of Antarctic icebergs"

p 17: "Two Routes from Antarctica to Southern California"

The Colorado River pulse flow momentarily opened the Morelos Dam and sent water across the Mexico-US border, down the parched riverbed to the Sea of Cortez.  The only other consistent terrestrial input of water to the basin for years prior came from a desalting facility in Arizona, which sent spoil water through pipes to the Colorado River's estuary.  Heavy water users such as Cali's Imperial Irrigation District are in search of ways to augment the Colorado's existing high-demand flow.   

"Transit time, long route"

Friday, August 28, 2015

FTB 39 - Lower Mid-City, New Orleans

In the move to Seattle, I uncovered some unfinished business, circa 2009

In the process, Grand Palace Hotel implosion became city-wide block party.   Then everyone got dusted out.  This is not my video.  I was on top of a CBD parking garage. There was much concern that the dust would harm elderly residents at the Iberville Projects but wind conditions worked out, it seems.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

FTB38 - new sound sketchbook

Guitar, drums, clangy pitched thangs.  Check out the first 5 from the 4 track:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

FTB 37 - Ras Al Khor, Dubai

Ras Al Khor ("Head of Creek") is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance, located smack in the middle of one of the fastest-growing cities.  In the center, a grey heron and flamingo catch shade and look for food.  Background - Burj Khalifa, Earth's tallest building.

Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary lies at the head of Dubai Creek, along the Central Asia-Africa flyway.  These tidal mudflats, mangrove swamps, and desert wetlands provide migrating birds a rest stop at the edge of endless dunes that make up the Arabian Peninsula's Empty Quarter to the southwest.  Birds use Southeast Louisiana's barrier islands in a similar way before crossing the Gulf of Mexico.  I visited Ras Al Khor in early April while staying in Sharjah.

Waterway edges have been drastically altered by humans and surrounded by buildings.

Water taxis carry folks between sides of Bur Dubai (Old Dubai) upcreek from Ras Al Khoor.  Edges of the creek are lined by wharfs, restaurants, malls, hotels, and other built interventions.

Restoration of Ras Al Khor began in 1985.  Camel had previously grazed the area barren.  Hydrologic disconnection from tidal energies comes from upstream dredging, built developments, and pollution barriers.  Tidal shifts are artificially created by a pump station at the head of the creek.  

Access to Ras Al Khor is barred except for select spots.  Here is public birdwatching blind, constructed with traditional date palm fronds woven together. Last year 15,000 people visited the location.  Bayou Sauvage in New Orleans (a city with 25% Dubai's population) hosts 50,000 people annually.
Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary provides binoculars, tripod telescope, and identification books for guests.  Nice touch.  Here is another grey heron.

For more on the Ras Al Khor wetland and its story, take a look at “Ras Al Khor – Eco-tourism in constructed wetlands: post modernity in the modernity of the Dubai Landscape”.  Chris Ryan, Heba Aziz, and Ivan Ninov have written a a readable, short academic paper on Ras Al Khor and the development around it.  It also contains more info on "The Lagoons", a huge residential development currently under construction next door, marketing luxury life and boating in the wetlands.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

FTB36 - Barrier Island Shifts, Documented

Between 1984 and 2007, Karen Westphal* used time-lapse aerial photography to document shifting barrier islands along the Louisiana Coast while longshore transport, breaking waves, built structures, and other factors impact the movement of sand and sediment. Check out the links:

I find the following images to be very helpful in understanding the processes that Karen has documented.

Barrier island accretion through drumstick model.  The opposite can also happen, as an island is split by wave washover.
Grand Isle, Lousiana.  Photo taken from edge of beach.  Note how currents have dropped sand loads between beach and rock wall.  Birds often hunt here.

From Andrew Barron of Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP)

relatively new delta lobes of the Mississippi River, now constrained to the Balize delta course

older geologic features, well below the surface
Southeastern Louisiana is disappearing.  It's well-known, and it's a complicated equation.  Levees and human-made hydrologic barriers prevent Mississippi River sediment from building land atop fault lines while industry drains subterranean oil reserves and salt domes.  Trade channels have altered salinity throughout the Pontchartrain Basin while Gulf wetlands are devastated by salinity intrusion through exploratory oil canals.  The region's urban areas are subsiding after pumping all water away from development, drying out soils that rely upon water for structural stability, and replacing swampland with impervious surfaces.  That's not all, but it's a start.  Long story short: in the history of development along the lower Mississippi, natural systems have not been given due attention.  Engineering did not beat out nature, and we are now short of breath (and money) trying to catch up.  Natural systems shift and adapt, often more slowly and powerfully than human-built systems.  The barrier islands of Louisiana are a great example of this.

*Karen is a scientist working for National Audubon Society's Louisiana Coastal Initiative and is involved coordinating the Louisiana Master Naturalist Program.  I'm stoked that she shared this with me, I hope you enjoy it.