Landscapes - People - Global change

Category: Energy (Page 1 of 21)

Delft and Rotterdam

Rooftop solar panels reflecting in the morning light along the dykelands at Wageningen

A relict windmill (traditionally used to pump water to drain wet land) near the Delft train station.

I left the Netherlands by ferry, crossing to Harwich UK, and that allowed me a bit of time to explore Delft and Rotterdam enroute to the port at Hook of Holland Haven (harbour). This was mostly tourist time for me, a chance to pursue good decaf coffee–the Dutch are highly caffeinated and look at me suspiciously and (I might be imagining this) a bit pityingly when I order it–and enjoy walking along canals and crossing the lovely little bridges. My many train, bus and tram trips have allowed me a lot of landscape views but little stability for photographs, so I was pleased to find a preserved windmill in the centre of Delft (left). These landscape stalwarts are still used to pump water to keep land dry in the Netherlands; much of that land is below sea level and in fact was once sea. Rotterdam is only 15 minutes away from Delft by train and has some very experimental architecture, including the spectacular Markthall, which can be seen in the distance below, like an upturned horseshoe. Then I made my way to the ferry terminal for what was, according to an employee, the roughest crossing of the North Sea in her 13 years with the company. Lucky me. The less said about that the better, but the wind fed the dramatic energy landscapes along the industrial harbour as we sailed out (bottom), and the offshore wind we encountered enroute. It was a wonderful trip, but it is great to be home (and on solid ground).

One of the many Rotterdam canals drained for construction work, the spectacular Markthal in the backgound.

Some of the many wind turbines lining the industrial harbour at Hook of Holland where the ferry departed.

Leaving WUR

Host Dirk Oudes and I at the multifunctional solar park De Kwekerij.

I’m heading out this morning from Wageningen after a full week of presentations and meetings. Wonderful to be immersed in a new university and disciplinary context for the last two weeks, and to have the opportunity to join yesterday’s field trip to sights relevant to the Climate-Responsive Planning and Design master’s course. Thanks to everyone for making my stay so interesting, Dirk for the invitation, and Wimek for the funding. As I leave, the Netherlands is dealing with surprises in its federal election yesterday.

Presenting to the Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning chair group meeting

Presenting to the WUR graduate elective course Climate-Responsive Planning and Design

The multifunctional solar park De Kwekerij and its adjacent neighbourhood (notably without solar PV on roofs)

New paper: social media methods for SIA

Synthesis figure in the new Current Sociology paper showing sample workflows within a range of possibilities.

This week a new open access paper came out in a special issue (monograph) of Current Sociology about Social Impact Assessment. The special issue was led by Guadalupe Ortiz and Antonio Aledo, and their introductory essay is worth a read, as is Frank Vanclay’s epilogue, reflecting on 50 years of SIA and asking “is it still fit for purpose?”. Our offering, Social media and social impact assessment: Evolving methods in a shifting context, reflects on a decade of research using mostly Instagram to understand the social impacts of developments such as hydroelectricity, wind energy and coastal dyke realignment. The above demonstrates the current state of the art in terms of workflows, and shows how several of our studies have navigated those options. The paper also talks about the challenges, practical and ethical, of using social media datasets, and calls for government support in securing ongoing access for the purposes of public good research, a topic also recently argued by Ethan Zuckerman in Prospect Magazine. Most of the work synthesized in this paper has been published elsewhere, except the brilliant work that Mehrnoosh Mohammadi did on developing a collage approach to communicating common features in social media images to protect both copyright and privacy concerns (see below). This is a method we advocated back in 2017 and it is wonderful to see it in action.

A collage by Mehrnoosh Mohammadi of 16 photos captured in NS vineyards and posted on Instagram, showing seasonal change from left to right.

Congratulations, Amy

Amy Wilson (left) defended her MSc Rural Sociology in hybrid mode.

I enjoyed participating as a committee member on Tuesday as Amy Wilson defended her MSc in Rural Sociology at the University of Alberta. Frequent collaborator John Parkins was her supervisor for her project about the Grassy Mountain coal mine impact assessment process, called Navigating Conflict and Contention in Coal Country. Issues of identity associated with coal production has been an interest of mine for awhile, and serving on this committee allowed me to explore it vicariously. The defense led to a great conversation between the candidate and the examining committee, and sparked lots of ideas for where to go next. Congratulations, Amy!

New paper on salience mapping of energy infrastructure

Figure 1 in Mohammadi et al (2023), showing the novel sequence of work in PhotoShop, Matlab and GIS to understand how energy infrastructure affects a view.

Really nice to see a paper come out this week in Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal from Mehrnoosh Mohammadi’s MES thesis on renewable energy infrastructure in amenity (specifically vineyard) landscapes. This is the kind of thing that happens when a landscape architect joins your lab. This work involved a creative sequence of PhotoShop (to remove energy infrastructure seen in Instagram images taken at vineyards), Matlab (to calculate visual saliency), and ArcGIS analysis to understand the change in salience wrought by the removal. Cool stuff! This started out as a research note at submission, but got upgraded by the editor: A saliency mapping approach to understanding the visual impact of wind and solar infrastructure in amenity landscapes. Thanks to PhD student Yan Chen and former postdoc H. M. Tuihedur Rahman for helping out on this work.

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