The story behind the blog and I
Greetings fellow water drops,
My name is Bob. I’m a hydrologist who works for the National Park Service at Big Cypress National Preserve in the great state of Florida. Go Hydrology is a water cycle blog where we illuminate and celebrate the continuously changing and always interesting wetlands, waterways and watersheds of mostly south Florida.
What is Go Hydrology? And who is the mad hydrologist behind it? And was Go Hydrology an instant blog, i.e. “just add water” – or did it evolve over time? The answers to those questions and more is explored below.
My goal? To help make you feel at home in the water cycle, and also to give you an insider’s view. You won’t find any fancy talk here. Just a lot of charts, diagrams and most of all explanations of data and terms that is both current and reaches decades into the past. I may not know everything about the water, but I know enough to share.
So enjoy and, as always, thanks for stopping by!
“Are you fascinated by the weather but find yourself continually in the dark about by the water cycle’s other half?
Go Hydrology shines a light on the entire water wheel of south Florida using a concept I call the water-cycle approach.
What is the Water Cycle Approach?
South Florida is unlike any other part of America. It doesn’t have winter the noun – i.e. northerners escape winter (the noun) by wintering (the verb) down in south Florida. Meanwhile, when they leave to go back up north in spring, they are greeted by continental spring floods just at the same time that south Florida is descending into the complete opposite state – a seasonal (and sometimes deep) spring drought. But drought in south Florida? How is that even possible in the same place that gets a whopping 55 inches of annual rain? To confuse matters even worse, the clouds that bring that rain actually move in the wrong direction (… long story).
Suffice it to say, south Florida’s unique seasonal pattern is contradictory by normal northern standards. And even for the folks that understand the seasonal water fluctuations have trouble keeping up: south Florida’s seasons don’t let the water cycle stay in any one spot for long – some would even call it hyperactive. Half the year is as wet as it can get (except when it isn’t) followed by an another half of desert-like drought.
Arguable no place is more tied to the hip with its water than south Florida – to the point that you might assume there was a hydrology page in all the local newspapers. Instead, water seems to be startlingly under-reported in the local news. For example,
- Newspapers report on the Everglades, but it’s usually policy-oriented articles that don’t viscerally connect the reader with current conditions in the swamp. Meanwhile, television provides viewers with the local weather, but broadcasts are invariable limited to what’s happening up in the sky: how water is affecting watersheds on the ground is almost completely left out.
- Newspapers and television are five-day forecast centric: the historical, seasonal, statistical, regional or Florida-wide context of drought and rainfall are usually lacking. Yes, it’s wet or dry, but by how much, which area is driest, how does that compare historically, and what does that mean for the ecosystem?
- Even at the most basic level, readers overwhelmingly find themselves out of touch with south Florida’s seasons. When does fall begin? What counts as a winter day? When does the wet season finally fill its cup? When does a normal winter drought turn into severe drought?
The net effect is that readers put down the newspaper being no more informed about trends in the region’s vital (yet perplexing) water resources or shifts in the peninsula’s (fascinating but glanced over) subtropical climate than when they picked it up. This is a noteworthy missed opportunity for both the newspaper and readers alike …
And precisely where Go Hydrology! steps in.
Goals of Go Hydrology!
Go Hydrology! is your guide into the inner realm of south Florida’s ferocious fly-wheel of hydrologic fury. It is aimed to resonate with the water management community and simultaneously make sense to the lay person fishermen, kayaker, or recreationalist, too. The water cycle is the great fountain in the sky and on and under the ground that binds us together as a community here in south Florida. It more than anything forms our common bond with the environment and each other.
Go Hydrology! helps translates vital water information (fresh out of the oven as it comes in) and …
- Chronicles major (and minor) milestones of south Florida’s water cycle,
- Illuminates and simplifies the complex inner-workings of south Florida’s major wetlands, watersheds and water ways – including the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee, Everglades, Big Cypress, and more,
- Celebrates south Florida’s seasonal rules-of-thumbs and trends, including adding water cycle twists to traditional holiday lore, i.e. the meteorologic meaning of Memorial and Columbus Days, why Labor Day is south Florida’s rendition of Groundhog Day and why the hydrologic New Year doesn’t start on January 1st,
- Compares and contrasts seasonal water patterns of the south peninsula to the panhandle and the Continental US,
- Showcases rainfall and drought levels across every part of south Florida and Florida-wide (at daily, weekly, monthly, wet and dry season, annual and decadal scales),
- And more.
Go Hydrology! is your guide to the inner workings of the south Florida’s constantly spinning water cycle. Oh, and don’t forget if you haven’t already to sign up for the Weekly Wave Newsletter. We deliver it straight to your e-mail inbox about once per week.
Ecosystems evolve over time …
But it’s the initial conditions that sometimes matter most of all.
The Power Point was originally presented at a conference
Here’s the story (above video) of how Go Hydrology got its start, plus some lessons learned along the way, and as always the unexpected twists. What was the biggest lesson? Probably the Rule of the Ninja: “Never fear, never doubt and never overthink.” Another lesson learned was that appetite comes while eating, or in other words, getting started is the hardest part.
As for the twists? I go back to the beginning: I never set out to be a blogger. It just happened over time, or rather all of a sudden. Am I a good blogger? I think it’s a skill I’ve refined over time. But I can write until the cows come home. The bigger trick is organizing the information that it becomes a helpful and enriching resource, which brings me full circle to where I am today. In the early years I shunned the word blog and blogger, fancying myself a more serious writer and the website being less about the words and more about the charts. Fast forward to today, and I’ve embraced the blog for all it’s worth. A blog is a powerful way to organize and share information in ways I am only starting to learn.
Robert V. Sobczak is a full time poet-philosopher and sometimes hydrologist who specializes in deciphering and celebrating the water cycle of the Big Cypress Swamp where wetlands, coastal waterways, ground water aquifers and drenching downpours from mammoth meteorological events meet. Bob got his start in the water trade at a sinuous riparian run called Deer Creek (a tributary of the Susquehanna River), and in particular the stretch that runs through Rocks State Park and which Bob likes to think of as “The Yellowstone of the Mid Atlantic Piedmont Plateau region of the United States.” In his free time, Bob enjoys the endorphin rush from a good run, writing and performing an original song on his guitar (think: four chords at most and a monotone voice, usually in front of a crowd of ten), and being unable to keep any line of conversation on a linear path, although eventually looping it around.
My name is Robert V Sobczak. I am a long-time National Park Service (NPS) hydrologist and blogger who got my start plotting data and “waxing poetic” (and scientific) about the water cycle in the early 2000s. Some people even say I resemble a water drop.
I am also an author – or rather, co-author – of three full-length novels called the Centennial Campfire Trilogy, including: (1) Legend of Campfire Charlie (2016), (2) Last Stand at Boulder Ridge (2018), and (3) Final Campfire(2020). The trilogy recounts the day-in-a-life of a park ranger. His mission: To make it through an epically long day at the Visitor Center to give a campfire talk at a nearby campground at 7 o’clock. Let’s just say it turns into a bit of a journey starting at the crack of dawn.
Did I mention “accidental” co-author?
Rudi and I never set out to write a book, let alone 3 of them. Our goal much simpler: All we wanted to do was team up to give a 30-minute “campfire talk” to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th Birthday, also called the Centennial. A dozen campfire talks later we decided to try to put the story in a book. One book led to another until 6-years later the 3-book trilogy was finally done.
That major milestone complete, I set out to create an online home for the books. But instead of focusing on the books, I found myself creating Campfire Park – “Home of the Campfire Talk” – and specifically CampfirePark.org. To be clear: These are not your grandfather’s campfire talks, but rather a new take on the venue that blends a little bit of the old with the new — and most importantly brings the campfire talk to your, right in the comfort of your own home.
An unexpected surprise happened while making Campfire Park. And this is where it gets a little crazy, but in a good way. For many years I wrote and performed farewell songs to colleagues leaving Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve, usually for the greener pastures of other parks. Because Rudi and my original campfire talk featured three of those songs – one called Three Jacks, another called One More Melaleuca (for the Road) and another called Higher Moral Ground – it only seemed natural that I include those “campfire shanties” in the the Campfire Park website.
Oh, and by the way: my singer/songwriter alter ego is known locally, in the hallways of where I work – as Bobby Angel. Important caveat: I did not give myself that name. But you know how nicknames are. Sometimes they just stick. And Bobby Angel stuck. And over the years, as the songs piled up, people always (or sometimes) asked: Those songs deserve a home.
To be honest, I never thought about it that much. And sometimes I would go a year without picking up the guitar. But because Bobby Angel songs were featured in our original campfire talks, and because — and here is the really important point — Bobby Angel was featured as a “Bob Dylan-esque” character in 3 books Rudi and I co-wrote, the Bobby Angel website (BobbyAngel.org) naturally took form.
Bobby Angel’s specialty is penning and performing nature-folk/campfire shanties. My first album – New Pangaea – includes 10 nature shanties woven together with interviews on each song and a beguiling epilogue at the end, soon thereafter followed by my second studio work called The Green Album (and loosely modeled off of The Beatles White Album).
To bring this story home, the same creative process that fueled Campfire Park and Bobby Angel website inspired me to bring my Go Hydrology website into the Word Press website building platform. No longer a single website, I was managing multiple websites; but they all seemed connected, too, to a broader overarching concept called the Nature Folk Movement (NFM).
What exactly is the NFM?
In a nutshell, its goal is to reconnect society and individuals with the traditional activities and values that have been taken away, or devalued, by smart phone culture and the internet.
So there you have it,
That’s my story of how Go Hydrology got its start, and how it’s evolved over time. Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to subscribe. You’ll get the Weekly Wave newsletter sent straight to your email inbox about the water about once per week.
Thank you for your support!!!
Who is Water Drop?
He’s just like any other old water drop. Or in other words – yes, he’s that special! You see, whether falling on Yellowstone National Park or landing on a city sidewalk, all drops are equal and part of the Great Water Cycle of Life.
How does the Water Cycle work?
For one, it’s a continual work in progress. That means whatever you saw today, don’t expect it to last. The water cycle is constantly changing and repeating itself. That’s where Water Drop comes in. Not just any “1/20th of a milliliter” globule, what Water Drop lacks in volumistic stature, he makes up for by wearing “many hats.
More about Water Drop:
He’s also the mascot of Go Hydrology. Go Hydrology is a website/blog that celebrates and illuminates the water cycle. Yes, I’ll admit – Go Hydrology is a bit centric to south Florida and specifically the Big Cypress Swamp. But the thing about Water Drop, he gets around, too. Whether it’s discussing flows in the Mississippi River, Colorado River, or virtually anywhere else – Water drop is a big fan of keeping it clean, flowing and fresh. And maybe that summarizes best what Go Hydrology is all about.
Until next time, thank you for reading.
Let’s keep the water cycle conversation flowing.
P.S. Be sure to sign up for the Weekly Wave Newsletter. You’ll get an e-mail about water in your inbox about every week.
It took a long time …
And then it happened all of a sudden.
Go Hydrology has been migrated over to Word Press (i.e. previously it was Blogger).
Maybe, finally, at long last, this will put me on the path to bringing it back to some semblance of its former glory. Like most things, it will be a learning curve. In the meanwhile, enjoy the new map, photo and video archives available on the menu bar up top.
Who reads Go Hydrology?
The map below breaks it down geographically.
|Around 400 people per day tap into Go Hydrology!|
Perhaps not surprisingly, the United States comes in first …
And Florida accounts for 60 percent of Go Hydrology’s state-side traffic.
As you can also see from the map, the heaviest (and most frequent) traffic sources to Go Hydrology are found in the southern part of the peninsular state: Naples scoring first with Ft Myers, Homestead, Miami and West Palm Beach scoring close behind.
Follow on Facebook
Follow via Reader
Follow by daily email
But tracking traffic isn’t as easy as it seems.
Eighty (80) people have signed up to receive Go Hydrology’s daily email and another 150 people subscribe (and read) Go Hydrology by Google Reader (or an equivalent). People who tap in that way don’t show up on the map stats, but in total all those sources adds up to around 400 people per day.
Go Hydrology is more than a blog …
It also has lots of charts and interactive maps, and cheat sheets! You can find them all by going to the sidebar on the right hand side, or clicking on the tabs above. Cheat sheets are organized by category, as shown in the example below. (Just click on them to see the data for each area.)
While some of the graphics may be tricky to read at first, if you give them a chance, they provide a useful way to track the water cycle across the state of Florida, i.e. Lake O, Everglades, The Big Cypress, as it unfolds. I update them on a weekly basis.
More than that, they allow you to do deep historical comparisons, too.
Most of all, Go Hydrology is a hydrologist talking to the water …
And working with the data so the water can speak back.
As a hydrologist, I never have to be reminded to look deep into the data – otherwise I know I will forget, but if I look too deep (and for too long) into those ancient data streams, I run the risk of missing out on what’s unfolding right in front of me, outside my window, on the event horizon as it occurs.
On occasion, that leaves me both unable to keep up and struggling to recall.
It’s the most dreaded space of all.
A variant of being “lost in time,” but only more rudderless in nature, with a fog-obscured retrace into the past and a future destination no longer known: it’s the peculiar state of cognitive disengagement we call “time out of mind.”
Most of the time, for me, the problem is just the opposite – – a mind out of time.
It seems these days I can never quite find enough of it, (at least on this side of the event horizon).
First two photos were taken during the early fall peak-water season. The last was taken in December two months into the dry season.