Another nice lab output this week in Marine Policy led by Qiqi Zhao, a China Scholarship Council visiting PhD student in my lab last year, including a bunch of other lab-affiliated students as co-authors: Modelling cultural ecosystem services in agricultural dykelands and tidal wetlands to inform coastal infrastructure decisions: a social media data approach. It is a bit of a companion piece to the Chen et al (2020) piece in Ocean and Coastal Management, as it uses the same Instagram dataset collected for every dykeland area in Nova Scotia back in 2018, but in a very different way. Chen et al. took a very qualitative ‘small data’ approach to the dataset, analyzing the photographs (and accounts) only of posts that included the words dyke*/dike*/wetland/marsh in the captions. Zhao et al. used a ‘big data’ text mining approach, extracting and associating bi-grams (two-word strings) from geolocated post captions to particular cultural ecosystem services (CES), modelling those CES using SolVES and comparing (as with Chen et al.) dykeland and wetland services. Whereas Chen et al. only found direct mentions of freshwater marshes (specifically Miner’s Marsh), in Zhao et al. we leveraged the coordinates to locate those geolocated to tidal wetland sites. This will help us better understand the tradeoffs associated with climate change-driven adaptations of the dykeland system in the Bay of Fundy, the focus of NSERC ResNet Landscape 1.
Category: Infrastructure (Page 1 of 14)
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.
Yesterday was the first full day of the Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) conference in New Orleans. This event is a first for me. It is practitioner-dominated, and very US-focused (they sure don’t mean North America by that title), and the focus is very much on the science. But there is an infectious enthusiasm here for all things estuary. I presented about the Nova Scotia coastal focus groups from Making Room for Movement, including a bit of the experimental paper and the new qualitative paper . The highlight of the sessions so far was one on social marketing: with work inside organizations (though small numbers of core comms/ed staff were clearly pulled many ways) and with a diverse and skilled set of contractors (notably, not generally academic partnerships) to achieve online ‘reach’. I have also really enjoyed talks about landscape change that included some social insights: Katherine Canfield on public perceptions of converting cranberry bogs to wetlands in Cape Cod; Melissa Paley on citizen mobilization for dam removal on the Oyster River in New Hampshire; Daniel Brinn on restoring water and habitat quality in Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina (which has a long history of human modification); Susan Adamowicz on the traces of salt marsh farming on coastal wetlands in Maine (and for providing some different vocabulary to that used in NS); and, Theresa Davenport on regulatory challenges to and opportunities for living shorelines in New England. Tomorrow is the last day of sessions and I’ve circled many more to attend. In general, I’d love to see more discussion of social monitoring of the kinds of actions being undertaken by this great group of wetland nerds, as well as ecological.
I’ve also enjoyed the more informal events around the conference. Our field trip to Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station (University of Southeast Louisiana) was fogged in, the result of unseasonably warm weather, but enjoyable. We saw swimming crab, a small alligator and a dangerous cottonmouth snake, and had great jambalaya courtesy of Reno’s. It was interesting but sad to see the impact of last year’s Hurricane Ida on the region and the Centre (see above). The trip to and fro I got to experience again the American penchant for constructing highways THROUGH water rather than going around. There is a 9 km bridge through the WIDEST part of Lake Pontchartrain, to the north of where I am now. Similarly, heading west through wetland toward Baton Rouge, you drive predominantly on raised highways through the marsh. In Canada we’d just be told: you have to go around. That doesn’t even seem to occur to Americans, bless them. At Pass Manchac there were 3 bridges next to one another (see above, in the view behind the pontoon boat), main highway, secondary highway, and rail.
Finally, the really informal stuff. It’s been nice to see the good people from CBWES and Clean Foundation all the way from Halifax (the only Canadians I’ve met so far). It was super to catch up with Brandon Champagne, ResNet MA student from SMU who is back in Louisiana working for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. Because I worked at the UNO back in 2001-2, though, I also have earlier connections. It was great to see Denise Reed at the poster session, who was at the Coastal Research Lab (CRL) during my year there, and share stories of the singular Shea Penland. I have also gotten to tour the post-Katrina city and enjoy some great food with Mark Kulp, another colleague from CRL (now PIES): crab burger, frog legs (yup), shrimp and grits, and grilled oysters. Looking forward tomorrow to catch up with my office mate from CRL, Dinah Maygarden, who still runs wetland education programming for PIES at the new(ish) Coastal Education and Research Facility named for Shea. Still need to get myself some gumbo and a po’boy…
A quick thanks to the PloCC (Places of Climate Change) network at the University of Bangor, Wales, for the invitation to present to their monthly seminar series on Nov 9th. I spoke about climax thinking (the title of this post is its Welsh translation, literally, “the mentality of the peak” according to Google Scholar) using examples from wind energy, coastal adaptation and flood-risk mapping (highlighting work by past and current graduate students Kristina Keilty, Ellen Chappell, Krysta Sutton and Samantha Howard). Thanks to the effort PloCC took to translate my abstract, I’ll share it here for any Welsh speakers who discover this page.
Trosiad yw meddylfryd yr anterth am wrthwynebiad i newid y dirwedd er lles y cyhoedd. Deilliodd o ymchwil seiliedig ar le yn Nghanada Atlantig. Yn yr un modd â damcaniaeth olyniaeth mewn ecoleg, rydym yn aml yn credu bod tirweddau mewn cyflwr delfrydol neu ecwilibriwm (h.y. yr anterth), ac y dylid dychwelyd ato ar ôl pob aflonyddwch megis trychinebau naturiol. Mae angen inni symud at ffordd ddi-ecwilibriwm o feddwl am dirwedd o ystyried yr heriau a wynebwn o ran cynaliadwyedd a’r goblygiadau posibl i’r dirwedd. Dyma gyflwyniad sy’n rhannu gwaith achos ynglŷn â gosod ynni’r gwynt, enciliad yr arfordir a mapio perygl llifogydd i symud o lefel y canlyniad (gwrthiant) i lefel y broses (achosion) y syniad newydd hwn, a’r goblygiadau i ymchwil ac ymarfer.
Topically, a great example of climax thinking came into my morning news media today, in the local rejection of government-funded wind turbines to help Stewart Island, NZ, get off of diesel generators. As the term otherwise hurtles to a close, and I look ahead to the Restoring America’s Estuaries conference in New Orleans the first full week of December, I’m keeping my eye to related media. I look particularly forward to the NYT reporting about this call for experiences of disaster rebuilding. A final note, do yourself a favour and read Rutger Breman’s book Humankind; I listened to the audiobook through the Halifax’s library’s Libby app on a long bus trip and it made me feel much better.
As September comes to a close, the whole Atlantic region is still reeling from the impact of Hurricane/Tropical storm Fiona, which hit last Friday night and Saturday morning. Many remain without power and/or out of their homes and–most horrifyingly–some have lost their homes and/or their lives in the storm. Many beautiful coastal towns and holiday communities lie shattered, and sad, scary stories abound: I even knew the person missing and presumed lost on the NS coast. My home and family were thankfully spared, and we’ve started feeling a bit guilty about this as the recovery ahead looks so long for so many.
There will need to be a time, however, after the first stage of emergency response and before the recovery process begins in earnest, to ask questions about how and where that should happen. I think some people feel like a big storm like this is so rare and unlikely that once it is past, they are safe for a good while. That is not how it works, unfortunately, and certainly not anymore. With climate change these outsize events will become more common, so this storm is a very stern warning to those who live in vulnerable coastal areas. People may think the changes associated with the climate will come slowly and they’ll have time to react and to decide, but storms like this show they likely won’t. Change will be noisy and unpredictable, not gradual. What we have seen is an extreme form of unmanaged retreat. It’s the worst case scenario, but we’ll have more of if we don’t listen to the lessons Fiona offers and be proactive.
There is a policy window now to consider managed retreat in a coordinated way that supports local communities to reimagine what it might look like to thrive coastally. I did a little media for the Toronto Star and Toronto’s News 1010 morning show in the last 24 hours about this. There will be a lot of insurance and emergency response money flowing, sooner or later. I hope that the political pressure to use such funds to rebuild in situ, regardless the risk, can be shifted to a broader conversation about the resilience that comes from leaving more space for the ocean to do its thing. It’s thing is dynamic, and against that dynamism hard infrastructure will always have it’s limits. Getting out of the way won’t. Yes, this might mean sacrifice, for instance new regulations and constraints on land long-held and cherished (such as the setbacks proposed in Nova Scotia’s Coastal Protection Act), or a lower tax base for municipalities. The conversations won’t be easy and the implications will be uneven, falling at times on people who will need more public support than others to accomplish it. But we should tackle it as a shared challenge, a duty not only to current generations but also future ones.
Last week I was doing revisions for a paper and a reviewer pushed back against the estimation of the length of the Nova Scotia coastline that I had included in my paper. I looked around and found others had used mine but also two other dramatically different numbers. In the end I decided not to include a length, because, well, how do you measure a coastline anyhow? But it is always constantly changing, as the recent PEI pre/post imagery shows quite well. An unavoidable lesson from Fiona is that coastal stability is an illusion. We need to learn to live with that fact.