Data manual

Do you have trouble reading a hydrograph? No worries. We have you covered in this easy to read manual.

Water manager’s delight
How much is "too much?"

For years I’ve struggled …

To make the perfect hydrograph.

Everglades Water Depth Cheat Sheet

My conclusion: It isn’t possible. Every time I finish one, I’m making another. And then when I go back to the one that I thought was a masterpiece, I see room for improvement in how it’s presented. And of course, the data stream has updated. That’s the thing about the water cycle — new data is constantly coming in. It’s just downright hard to keep up. Then there’s always the battle of how much data is “too much?” In my view, the better it’s organized, the more you can back in. The Everglades Water Depth Cheat Sheet may just be the case in point.

About the cheat sheet: It’s my new masterpiece. It took me half a day (up to lunch to create). If that seems like a long time, consider that updating will take just seconds (or rather minutes). So the good news is that it was time well spent.

The deeper truth behind the hydrograph above is that it was 15 years in the making and was fueled by my desire to better understand the Everglades. The key step was charting water depth consistently at each index well using the “slough floor” as the zero reference and using the simple ecological cross section at the top right of the page. As for the historical stats, I calculated them from 1993 to present.

More about the cheat sheet: It’s power is that it allows you to compare apples-to-apples (or oranges-to-oranges as we say in Florida) across the major index wells of the River of Grass; and also go back in time a decade at each site.

I always say I am trying to bring Go Hydrology back to some semblance of its former glory. Looking at this chart, at least on this night, my thought is that I might just get there yet.

Cheat sheets explained
And why they are similar to chocolate

Say what you will …

Cheat sheets get people excited.

Firelight Radio is available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

The reason?  Maybe it’s the illusion that they are a short cut to understanding something that’s very complex.  But I think there’s more to it than that.  People want to be on the inside looking out, and when it comes to complex topics, people just want to ramp up their understanding so they can lend a helping hand.  That’s where Go Hydrology’s cheat sheets play a vital role.  They help make experts better and amateurs burgeoning experts.  The truth is, the wisdom of the masses outperforms any one person’s knowledge.  These cheat sheets help bring more people into the game.

The real dirty secret about cheat sheets is this: Yes, they simplify the world, but they are actually quite hard to make. There is no short cut to making a good cheat sheet. As for the chocolate connection, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to discover what that’s all about.

Lake Overview
For discussion purposes only

I‘m not saying …

I’m the Lake expert.

This map is for discussion purposes only

But my only hope for ever becoming one is to graph as much information as I can in a format that others can understand and fill me in one what else needs to be added, and how to clear up the confusing points. Things I’ve learned: Sometimes you have to throw in everything, even the kitchen sink. I’ve also found by doing so I get solid feedback on how to make the right tweaks. My first water management breakthrough I’ll never forget was with Cal Neidrauer. He could have easily said: “Bob, you have no idea what you’re doing.” Instead, his only complaint was that I was filling up everyone’s email boxes and suggested I figure out a way to post it on the web. I’m not saying I’ve got it perfect (yet), but it’s always been nice to hear back from Cal and others on next steps and where additions (and subtractions) could improve the over all display.

This graph is a little farther away than the previous post. And it needs a little more labeling, too. What I like about it is that at at a glance you can see the Lake’s level relative to key ecological thresholds, quickly trace it back in time, and also compare it to discharges to the Caloosahatchee and the St Lucie. I also like the map, although it needs better labels. Too often images of the Lake crop out the coasts. But really the coasts are the most important thing to include considering that’s where the consequences are most felt. Sanibel and the Indian River Lagoon deserve a place right beside the lake if you really want to include the Lake’s full regional stakeholders and effects.

Out of map out of sight as I like to say.

How To: See rain trends
How to read a monthly rain chart

South Florida has two distinct meteorologic seasons:

A 6-month wet season and a 6-month dry season.

How to read a rain chart

Things you should know: (1) The water year begins anew the start of May each year. But it’s not an exact science (i.e. precise point) when they start and end from one year to the next. For example, we classify October as a wet season month even though the afternoon rain showers usually end in early October. And the start of May is probably the swamp’s driest time, yet it’s also the same month, as it approaches June, that the summer rainfall pattern begins. (2) Most of my rainfall charts show background gray coding. That’s the historical statistics as counted from 1983 to present. Why 1983? It was a good year, and most of the SFWMD’s record by basin reaches back that far. Looking at the chart above, the dark gray band is the average range for each month (i.e. between the 25th and 75th %tile) and the light gray is the historic rang (i.e. between the max and min). The white bar in the middle is the normal or median monthly rain. (3) My charts are based on basin-wide rainfall, not local rainfall.

Newspapers calculated rainfall by calendar year. (They are wrong. How dare them!) They also calculate rainfall for an individual gage in Ft. Myers and Naples (The shame!).

In summary, numbers mean more if you can frame them against the expected values and ranges that came before. And its by water year, not calendar year, that we tally rainfall totals in south Florida.

Why 1993?
Statistics from 1993 to present

Most of my hydrographs …

Are based on historical stats starting in 1993.

Hydrographs pop when you add in the statistical record as a backdrop

The reason(s)?

For one I wanted to be consistent across the board with all the hydrographs I created. To do that I had to pick a date, and 1993 jumped out as coinciding with the modern era of water management. It also seemed to be a date that most stations had accurate data for. Many stations go back further in time, and I like looking at that data, too. But 1993 is a breakpoint beyond which quite a few index wells don’t have data.

Keep in mind I started created my hydrographs in the early 2000s (also called the “aughts.”) The data streams are now nearly twice as long as when I got started.

In summary, I picked 1993 to be consistent, and so that my observations were framed relative to a common statistical measuring stick. To be sure, I like slicing and dicing the data for decadal comparisons. But for my go-to charts, I also base them on the post-1993 record.