Chas Jones, Ph.D.

Stream discharge

Colorado River river trip to assess hydropower potential

1923 Colorado River river trip to assess hydropower potential of Grand Canyon

This is an old film produced by the USGS (and linked from their website) that shows footage of 1923 Colorado River river trip to assess hydropower potential of Grand Canyon (1923).  This is a silent video produced in black and white that shows the excitement of the river trip and some of the trials and tribulations of these early adventurous public servants of the U.S. federal government.

Additional information can be found at this link to the USGS’s archival material.

Quantifying Colorado River water deliveries

20131110 Coroado River Water profile

Quantifying Colorado River water deliveries

I really enjoy innovative graphics that convey quantitative data in simple understandable ways. Here’s a great example of a graphic that shows how much Colorado River Water has flowed into and out of various parts of the Colorado River basin and the States and communities that rely upon it for their water. This map shows how no Colorado River water makes it into Mexico anymore.  It also shows how much water into California and Arizona.  Very interesting.  More info can be found at this link.

Potential research: Floods and climate change-Boulder, CO

How do changes in climate and associated weather patterns affect flooding?

Potential research: Floods and climate change-Boulder, CO

In mid-September 2013, the region around Boulder, Colorado experienced severe flooding when 15 inches (38 cm) of rain fell across the area in less than 48 hours. It was a magnificent event that some have estimated to be a 1000 year flood event.  What caused this particular flood event to be so incredibly large?  Was it climate change?  Did we (humans) interfere with other aspects of the landscape to amplify the event? Or was it some natural phenomenon like El Nino or La Nina that was expressing its influence?

It would be a very tenuous argument to declare this particular rain event was caused by climate change. Even though, climatologists frequently state that we should expect extreme events (i.e. flooding or drought) to occur more frequently in the future, they can’t really pin down a particular cause for specific weather related events.

The nexus of flooding and climate change is one of my primary research interest areas, however, as we can model how different climate scenarios might influence the flood characteristics of particular watersheds.  We can also model how changes to the jet stream and related weather patterns may affect precipitation, runoff and flooding. In the southwestern U.S., what would happen if winter precipitation events were received from the south rather than the pacific northwest? How might that influence runoff and or flooding in spring? How might reservoirs in the southwest be affected by altered precipitation patterns? What would those changes mean for water policy in the southwest?

The questions are endless, but I find them fascinating.  Hopefully, one day I will find myself in a position to get at some of the big questions revolving around floods and climate change.…

River gauging techniques – Helicopter

River gauging techniques – Helicopter

I am always interested in the different techniques that are being used to measure stream discharge.  Sometimes, it can be quite difficult to access rivers in areas with good access, non-mobile beds, stable cross-sections, and a host of other site conditions that make for good channel cross sections.  Well, here is a New Zealander’s approach that uses a helicopter, a modified whitewater kayak, and an ADCP unit to measure stream discharge.  The group is out of the Otago Regional Counil (

I came across the link at Stu Hamilton’s blog (

What do you think about its potential for measuring peak discharge in some of the remote rivers in Alaska or other places?