As the Environmental Modeling Intern, my time is split between field work and programming in R (a statistical computing language and software environment… think Excel but more powerful and with a lot more user driven direction). The first half of my summer has primarily consisted of using R to create graphs comparing the current water year to those of the past. When I was first given this task, my R skills were limited and the pressure was on. Before I had even arrived at the office that first day, the Foundation had received several phone calls concerning low streamflow in Fall River and high discharge from Island Park Reservoir. In order to inform communication efforts with the public, I was asked to generate graphs using historical data to contextualize what is happening in the river now.
Before I head out into the field next week for the duration of my internship, I would like to share what I have been working on with Dr. Van Kirk these past few weeks. Please click here to learn about how this spring is among the driest on record and how that is playing out across the watershed.
Overall, I have really gained an appreciation for the Foundation’s communication efforts. Working in a dynamic system reliant on natural processes can create conflict between water users and it is important to know how and what to communicate. I have not only improved my R skills these past few weeks, but have also learned how to use graphics to communicate effectively and tell a story. Additionally, I have learned a lot more about water rights and the history of the watershed throughout the process – increasing my environmental literacy in a time when drought is more than just a buzzword in the West.