May 16 2011

A Few Good Reads (5/16/11)

This week: Flooding on the Mississippi, Sandbar study in Nebraska, U.S. engineers not getting any respect, building up the levees in West Sacramento, and some myths about gas prices.

Mississippi River Flooding (The Big Picture)

Pressure on levees led the Army Corps of Engineers to blow up a section below Cairo, Ill, inundating 130,000 acres of farmland while saving the town. As a bulge of river water makes its way downstream, levees are stressed and rivers that empty into the Mississippi have no outlet, backing up and flooding even more land. The bulge will reach the Delta later this month, and millions of acres are threatened.

USACE opens 350 bays at Bonnet Carre Spillway

Lidar Being Used in Flood Response (by Sam Pfeifle, SPAR Point Group): A round up of some ways that LiDAR is being used in the flood response to the MIssissippi River system.

Sandbar Study to Help Nesting Plovers and Terns (JournalStar): An article about work and research being done on the Platte River in Nebraska. We have been a part of the work on the middle part of this system since 2009.

U.S. Engineers Not Without Honor Except in Their Own Country (Engineering Ethics Blog)

The kinds of people a culture honors says a lot about its desires and ambitions. In China, according to the Duke researchers, anyone who succeeds in publishing a research paper in an international journal is treated like a hero. But in the words of Rodney Daingerfield, it is only a slight exaggeration to say that in the U. S., engineers “don’t get no respect.”

This may be one reason why there is such a dearth of native U. S. students who pursue advanced degrees in engineering and the sciences.

5 Myths about Gas Prices (Washington Post): I thought this was an interesting article in the realm of transportation and infrastructure about the typical myths that most of us believe about gas prices.

Libya is not a big enough global oil supplier for the battles there to have a meaningful effect on gas prices. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Libya was a major U.S. supplier, selling us around 700,000 barrels of oil per day. But today, we import less than 50,000 barrels per day from Libya — a tiny fraction of the 9.2 million barrels per day the United States imported in 2010. Worldwide, the story is no different: Of the 86 million barrels consumed globally each day, less than 2 percent come from Moammar Gaddafi’s regime.

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