Ever get the feeling that you’re spread a mile wide but an inch deep?
That’s hydrology in the Everglades!
Or rather, that’s life as a hydrologist in the Everglades.
We call it sheet flow.
Sheet flow season is summer and fall. By winter we still have thin sheets of water, but they are no longer flowing (just evaporating). And by spring, and especially this one, the sheets are gone too.
Somehow that doesn’t mean less work for me.
“So what are you still doing here, Sobczak? Haven’t you noticed it’s the dry season,” he’d say in mock astonishment, usually ending with a terse and definitive – “All the water’s gone! Go home!”
Another hydrologist may have taken offense (as if there wasn’t enough water to keep me busy for the full year), but being somewhat raised in the comic tradition of beating a dead horse myself, it not only took on a certain amount of charm after his 6th or 7th re-asking (although on occasion I’ll admit it was annoying), I adopted it on a polemic level as a false paradigm that I needed to learn how to refute.
“And see what – no water?” He’d respond.
“I don’t know what window you’re looking out,” he’s say dismissively. “All I see is sunshine!”
“Last time I checked,” he’d counter back, “zero plus any number equals that number.”
“Rain is just one part of the hydrologic cycle.” I said. “In south Florida, evapotranspiration is just as big or bigger than rain!”
We shared a moment of silence in the thickening heat of the afternoon hallway.