Sunday, April 17, 2016

Trip is over and in almost every way surpassed expectations. We did not see gorillas,  but every day of this week I was amazed and surprised. Here's a photo of the Kirwa forest on the 3rd morning of our hike.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Today is mostly an office day: heard a presentation about project progress so far, right now in a meeting about project finances. There is a long list of topics to cover and we will likely work into the evening. Tomorrow we will actually get out to communities and see with our own eyes the results that we've been hearing about. 

Friday, April 08, 2016

This trip is kind of an exciting one for me. Going to our new project in the Kakumba watershed in Congo. I've been there before but only during the set up phase of the project. This will be my first time to see how things are unfolding on the ground. All reports are good so I am optimistic. Plus we get to hike from Lake Tanganyika up to nearly the Itombwe plateau. I've been taking lots and lots of stairs to be fit enough for this but it will still be a big challenge. I just hope the rain which is forecast doesn't block our plans.
1 hour from airport parking lot to the departure gate today. One of my slowest times ever, mainly because of the security check. I don't mind if it gets me safely to my destination. It's a good thing I showed up early though.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

No, sadly, this is not northern lights. I was hoping I would catch them since Fort McMurray is at 57 degrees north and it is a fairly common occurrence. This looks like it could be, but actually it is light from a tar sands extraction plant just a few km north of the city. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fort McMurray, Alberta. At 57 degrees north, this is the furthest north I have been (as my friend here pointed out). Lucky for me they are experiencing a bit of a heat wave. Yesterday it was a balmy -12 C, and today it is forecast to go above 0. I can tell you it is sunny and very pleasant.

Here is a shot from an exhibit along the highway. This is retired equipment and a technology that apparently is no longer in use here. It is difficult to capture the massiveness of this equipment. Machinery like this, and so many other things about this town tell you how much effort has been put into extracting oil. At least up til now.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Wait. Wasn't I just at the airport yesterday? At least this time it's for vacation. I keep checking for my passport and then feel so good when I remember I don't need it. Don't need to fill out an arrivals card, don't need to pass immigration, don't need foreign currency. It is very exciting. 
The result of this week's efforts. Grey line is water temperature, and blue line is water depth. You can see there was a major rain event on Thursday night and a resulting sudden rise in river depth from about 0.3 metres to 1.5 metres. It was great to be able to check that the installation is solid and was not washed away by all that water. Five days of data doesn't really tell us much. We probably need at least 3 years of data, and better still 5 years of data before we can start to make any kind of meaningful interpretation. Fortunately the logger will just keep taking readings automatically. There is always a risk of vandalism or theft, but the station itself weighs 100 lbs, and is fastened with both a stake and a metal cable, so there would be some work involved for someone to take this thing away. Not entirely out of the question, but not something that someone is just going to do on a whim. But time will tell. At least 5 days out, everything is going well.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Last night I overheard some guests at the hotel talking about how land prices have jumped by huge amounts in a community called Juan Adrian. This because of a new highway under construction from the centre of the country to the west which is transforming Juan Adrian from sleepy mountain village into bustling, near-urban way-stop.

We all have heard about the world's shifting population, and how for the first time in history there are more people living in cities than in rural areas. For me this shift tends to be mostly invisible, and so it is a bit shocking to have such an in-your-face manifestation of global change. This also likely means more deforestation and erosion in a place that was otherwise stable. The area where the highway is going slices right through the very top of the Maimon watershed which feeds the Yuna river, which ultimately flows into Samana bay, a critical breeding area for humpback whales. Not that road building is going to immediately threaten whales, but everything is inter-connected, and protecting the source of the Maimon and Yuna river becomes more important and urgent than before.