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CSULB Geospatial Research and Mapping (GRAM) Field Program
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Daily Blog for Kelly

Day 27

Posted on July 8, 2012 by Kelly

Today was the final day of the REU.

We had our presentations in the square just outside the Geography department. The weather was cloudy at first but the sun came out during the first team’s presentation,which felt nice at first but led to a little discomfort on my part since I had not worn a hat or brought any sunscreen. Just my luck to sunburn to top of my head on the last day of the REU after being so hat conscious while on Kauai.

Overall the presentations were a success. The audience included several people not directly involved in the REU, and good insightful questions followed nearly every presenter. Personally I really enjoyed seeing the other presentations and how the other undergraduate’s work finished up. It was a balm to my own frazzled nerves that I was not the only person who said something along the lines of “if I only had more time, I could have done X”.

On my work, I really wish that I would have had the time to  dig into Team Hydro™’s collected data and map out the full extent of our observations vs. my predicted discharge maps. I still do not know if my work will be of benefit to anyone, but I definitely believe that it has the potential to do so. It just needs further refining to reduce the errors in the analysis. But before refining it needs to be assessed on its function now (ie mapped against our observations).

After the conclusions of our presentations we had a catered lunch of tacos, which was very popular with everyone involved. During lunch I filled out a brief survey of my thoughts on the REU, I am not sure that I did some of the questions justice, I was feeling a little mentally exhausted at the time and may have not provided enough clarity in my responses.

After the lunch, I went back to my dorm room for final packing preparations since my ride was due to pick me up in about an hour. Once I was packed, I had a few moments to say some goodbyes then I was on the road north to home.

I arrived home just after midnight and soon was sleeping the sleep of the exhausted. The only item I have left to do is converting my poster from a giant pdf into format better suited for web display. I will be doing that Sunday.

This is my last blog post, and I want to thank everyone involved in the REU for helping make this a fantastic experience that I intend to capitalize on (Hydrology for grad school? Madness!).

Day 26

Posted on July 7, 2012 by Kelly

Today was a stressfull day. I and the other undergraduates all were working furiously to finish our posters by this evening.

As per usual I had trouble with ArcMap, nothing game-changing just the standard crash-to-desktop-dont-you-wish-you-had-saved-your-edits frustration.

Around 3pm I had finished my data and figured out how to symbolize it, all that was left was making a poster that can (hopefully) walk an interested party through my process, and explain why it is important.

In 2 hours or less.

So, it should come as no surprise, I had a bit of a stressful afternoon as well.

I was the last one to finish my poster, I handed it off to Paul (one of the grad students) around 7:30pm, only a few hours late. It wasnt as bad as it sounds, since there was only one printer and the queue to print was just long enough that the second-to-last poster was in the works right when I finished.

After that was done, I and a group of other undergraduates went to the home of one of the members of Team Hydro™ to have some home-made food (a godsend) and enjoy a nice relaxing soak in a Jacuzzi (also a godsend).

Tomorrow is presentations and thats it. It is hard to believe that my time in this program is coming to an end.

I think it has been a valuable experience.


Day 25

Posted on July 7, 2012 by Kelly

Today was a day of computer work and GIS analysis.

I am making some progress on finishing my data analysis. I even got a chance to eet with Dr. Becker and show him what I have done so far (calculating flow accumulation as a value of the # of cells draining into points on the coast, and identifying drainage basins for specific pour points at the coast). I chose pour points where my flow accumulation raster indicated an area of accumulation but did not have have a stream or river. If ground water follows surface water trends then these could be good areas to investigate for SGD. The theory being that groundwater would be expelled in the region but surface water would not (no stream or other surface outlet).

Dr. Becker also pointed me towards symbolizing a line (representing a theoretical boat) based on the number of cells (and volume of water if I can do it) that could affect the water offshore. This has the advantage that I can ake a fixed length line and symbolize it in a convenient fashion (every km or so).

Tomorrow our posters are due by 5pm, although we have been asked to get the in early if possible since the printer is a little finicky.

Day 24

Posted on July 5, 2012 by Kelly

Today is July 4th, happy birthday America!

Officially today is a day off, but I felt too far behind to relax. Instead I spent the majority of the day working through my data.

The notable exception tot this day of work was when I went to a holiday barbecue hosted by professor Wechsler. The food was good, the company great, and the chance to relax exquisite.

The highlight of the barbecue was when a giant grapefruit-fight broke out between the younger children (boys) and the REU participants (also boys). The battle lasted around 30 minutes and left the yard (and clothes of the participants) covered in broken rinds and juice.

I, of course, chose to remain apart from the battle, to better avoid sticky clothes and grapefruit filled eyes.

Tomorrow is another day of data crunch, but I feel like I may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Day 23

Posted on July 4, 2012 by Kelly

Oh how quickly the plans of mortals change.

I still cannot seem to shake this jet lag. Getting up in the morning is a herculean task. Additionally, I had a slew of errors when using the ArcHydro extension last night. Basically, I was unable to resolve adding slope to the stream line which would be used to ensure that the drainage patterns of my surface followed the “actual” drainage patterns observed. I put quotes around actual because I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the stream line feature, although it was taken from the official Hawai’i GIS site so I expect it is at least mostly accurate.

The inability to properly calculate and use stream slope isn’t a project ending error by itself, in fact I attempted to simply press on, but I was unable to get any of the processing steps after it to function properly. At this point I do not know if the failing is with my use of the tool or with some software/hardware error.

Luckily Arc 10 does have a suite of hydrology tools that should work for my project. Tomorrow is the 4th of July. Officially it is a day off, but I expect that I will at least work for a few hours in order to use some of the hydrology tools and ensure that they are functioning properly.

The rest of the evening was spent at my first Dodgers game, and only by second pro baseball ever (the first being in 1996). The experience was good, we sat in the top deck almost directly above the Dodgers  dugout. I had a “dodgers dog” and even got a free hat since it is the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium.

Presentations are Saturday, and I am starting to feel the pressure to get my data finished so I can start putting together my poster.

Day 22

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Kelly

Today is our first full day back in Long Beach. The jet lag was especially bad for me this morning, so bad that I didn’t make it to the morning session of lab work that everyone else went too. I am not overly concerned since I havent hit any major issues with my data analysis yet.

After lunch I headed to the geography lab to get Dr Becker up to speed on my work so far. He recommended that I focus on the 10m DEM when looking at drainage basins and sub-basins, and if I have time look at the lidar data. This was in part because of a hole in the coastal lidar data that would have forced me to cut off about 1/2 of the survey area (the missing data would have created errors in interpolation that would have propagated outward).

Tonight I plan on getting the last of y data pre-processing done for my AOI on the 10m DEM and then getting a good nights sleep for a full day of lab work tomorrow.

Day 20 and 21

Posted on July 1, 2012 by Kelly

All my bags are packed and I am ready to go…

Today is travel back to Long Beach. I will miss Kauai. I believe that my team has some good data, and it will make for some solid posters. Still, there is always more data to be gathered and a place like Kauai is a wonderful spot to gather it.

Yesterday was packing and a barbeque at the beach; nothing really exciting happened but it was nice to have one last chance to snorkel and relax at Poipu.

Our planes leave around 1pm, so I should be back on the mainland between 9pm and 10pm local time.

Day 19

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Kelly

First thing today Team Hydro ™ headed to the embayment near Prince Kuhio Park. The embayment was rather small; I would guess 40m across at the widest point, with volcanic rocks along the coast. This did result in having some convenient seating while Courtney and Ali used our only two GPS units while collecting data.

I did miss out on seeing at least on sea turtle up close by not being one of the data gathers today however, that was a bit of a bummer.

After downloading the data from the level loggers (the devices that track temp, salinity and depth) we packed up and decided to take a little R&R before heading back to the house to prepare dinner for the rest of the crew (each team rotates through the dinner making).

Unfortunately one member of Team Hydro, Ali, was injured. From what I understand she hurt her back rather severely. She is going to be ok, but it will be several weeks before she is operating at 100%.

After dinner we had a lecture on Pacific Island archeology by Dr. Terry Hunt. Dr. Hunt is, as I understand it, a frequent co-worker of Dr. Lipo. In fact Lipo and Hunt collaborated on the research that led to the publication of the recent book The Statues That Walked. Dr. Hunts talk first focused on a bit of the macro geography that influenced human disbursement throughout the pacific islands. After the geography lesson, he went into a little detail of the history surrounding the academic theories about how humans settled throughout the islands which transitioned nicely into a discussion of the reasons why current theory differs from the ones established in the early 1900’s. Archaeology is a fascinating subject, but after seeing some of what is involved in the field work for it, I do not think I will become an archaeologist. However, I will greedily devour any papers and books on the subject that cross my path.

Day 18

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Kelly

Today had a change of plans. Instead of going to our last embayment near Prince Kuhio Park, Team Hydro ™ spent the day preparing our presentations for this evening. The purpose of the presentation is to give an overview of our project questions and progress so far (also some priming the pump for our poster sessions I imagine).

Surprisingly I had no real trouble organizing my thoughts for the presentation organized. I expect that keeping this blog contributed greatly to my ease in getting started. For those of you who do not know me very well, I have had some difficulty getting the ball rolling when organizing my thoughts, compensated at least in part by my ability to speak in front of others without feeling nervous.

After our presentation was completed, we broke for the day to head back to the house. I had a bit of drama when I realized I left my phone somewhere on the grounds of NTBG. Calling it was fruitless, as was checking the people still at the ed-room. I did eventually find it, but the limited time did put me in the position of staying with the grad students for dinner.

Having dinner was a refreshing experience. I am older than all but one of the undergraduates, by a decade or so in several cases, so eating dinner with people closer to my age was a nice change of pace. Do not mistake me, the undergraduates are a fine bunch of people, but sometimes the feeling of a generational gap gets a little wearying.

After dinner we had our presentations. Overall I feel that the presentations were a success. I now have a better idea of what the other teams are working on (as groups and individuals) and a really looking forward to seeing the posters next week. My talk went well, I did forget one of the points I wanted to make concerning “reinventing the wheel” is just limited to the macro data. I do not think that anyone has created sub-basins inside the macro basins for this area in Kauai. Which is kind of the point isn’t it?

Tomorrow is the last day to gather data, so I hope we can get into that embayment.

Day 17

Posted on June 28, 2012 by Kelly

Today was as full data processing day for Team Hydro™. Personally the biggest challenge I am facing now is learning the ArcHydro toolset (which has a compact 187pg tutorial). My goal was to do a dry run using a 10 DEM of Kauai, following the steps in the tutorial, and compare my results with the official GIS layers available in the state Hawaii GIS site. The complication this creates is that I am not using the provided tutorial data so if I encounter an error it is entirely up to me to figure out what is causing the error and how to fix it.

I have made some progress, but I am still struggling with the preprocessing stage. Still, I believe this will be invaluable when I do get the tool working since I will have a direct way to test the accuracy of my initial results before really drilling down into our projects survey area.

We did not end up doing any field work today, but we are planning on leaving a little early tomorrow so we can get our final embayment surveyed when the weather is (hopefully) calmer.

About Kelly

Kelly is a senior in Geography at CSU Sacramento. He has his A.S. in GIS, received from Columbia College in Sonora, CA. His research interests are legion but generally center around leveraging GIS when conducting vigorous scientific study. Currently, when not working as a research intern, Kelly works for a GIS Enterprise Solutions Company (one of the many that partner with ESRI) performing a variety of tasks depending on the specifics of the project.