Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I don't just cook!

A little insight into other aspects of my life today.

Im not just a cooking, exercising, eating machine you know.

When I'm not travelling the country playing with mud, or the world for that matter, I spend eight ours a day sitting at my desk in front of my dual screen, very powerful computer. Don't ask me specs on the pooter, I just need it to work!

Believe it or not, this is the part of my job I enjoy! For the most part at least! I love organising things, even it is hundreds of thousands of numbers! And yes, colours are usually involved in the organisation process, particularly pink.

It you promise not to steal my idea, Ill tell you what I am currently spending my time on. Although it is not technically solely my idea, I have to give my boss credit here too.

The Conterminous United States is divided into Ecoregions by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are different levels of details, but I tend to work with Level III Ecoregions.

The approach used to compule this Ecoregion map is based on the premise that ecological regions can be identified through the analysis of the patterns and the composition of biotic and abiotic phenomena or relect differences in ecosystem quality and integrity (Wiken 1986, Omernik 1987, 1995). These phenomena include geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology (USEPA, 2007).

My home and the surrounding areas lie within Ecoregions 65, The Southeastern Plains, and 74, The Mississippi Valley Loess Plains.

On and off for the past few years, I have been organising precipitation (rainfall and snowfall) and discharge (flow of water through channels) data for the 84 ecoreigons of the US. Sad I know, but I do actually find this really interesting!

The rate of change in precipitation (calculated over the period of record) for Ecoregions 65 and 74 are 1.15 and 1.10 mm per year, respectively (I tried to put the graphs in as they are beautiful, but I cound't manage it for some reason, sorry). That means that this area gets approximately 11 cm more precipitation per year now than during the 1900s. Because I ahve also broken this data out by season (using NOAA seasonal definitions; DJF, MAM, JA, SON), I can tell you that we actually have a decrease in summer rainfall and that most of our increase in rainfall in this area has been occurring during autumn months; September, October and November. Cool, eh!?


  1. Lauren! So I read about everyday but obviously comment less... but this one made me come out of my hiding spot. VERY INTERESTING. I think I would enjoy that part of your job too. Hope you're well. Say hi to the boys, all three of them.

    - Gabe

  2. Thanks Gabe! It is kinda cool.

    You are kinda on the edge of two Ecoregions also, 63 The Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain and 64, the Northern Piedmont. You have had very little precipitation change over the past century, maybe because the Atlantic is a more stable body of water, dont know. The rate of change in ER63 is 0.4 mm/yr and ER64 is 0.07 mm/yr, so Id say your weather was a little more stable than ours! Breaks out to be less rainfall in winter and summer and more in spring and autumn. But the Ecoregions you are in cover a vast area and there probably arent too many rain gauges in the city itself, so this is just a general estimate!

  3. Very interesting, Lauren. From one nerd to another, of course.