BONUS PROJECTS' BLOGS
Below are the most recent entries in the BONUS projects' blogs. To read the entries of your favorite project, select it from the list on the left.
22.06.2017 16:09Keep calm and listening the Kocinka (Storm in a teacup - water is everywhere BONUS SOILS2SEA)
Hi to all very busy people,
swiming aginst main stream of life in neverending haste, I want to invite you to relax on the Kocinka side.
It takes ONLY one minute...
Pictures from last field trip - June 2017:
05.06.2017 09:26Upsides and downsides, mostly downsides.. (BONUS BALTICAPP - Race Against Eutrophication Blog)
We had a very interesting PhD course on econometrics in Bergen Norway. We were introduced to modern methods of empirical data analysis including instrumental variables, differences-in-differences and regression discontinuity. The topics of the examples were from environmental and resource economics and included themes such as relationships between conflicts and resource discoveries, price shocks and civil conflicts, the political resource curses and environmental speed limits in Oslo. The course took three days. During the visit in Bergen we also got an opportunity to explore the beautiful city (or village). The surrounding mountains were particularly impressive. It also became apparent that the Bergen is a rather rainy place; there is approx. 300 rainy days a year, we were told. It also became clear that Norway is a very expensive country. The oil money seems to increase the prices beyond the level that at least we Finnish people would consider reasonable. The get the points from the course we have to hand in a home assignment by the end of the September. In this assignment we are asked to get some data related to our PhD research and to explore the data via some method introduced in the course. Then we are asked to write a paper about the data, method applied and the results. Thus, if data are good, one could expand this home assignment to a real paper. This is of course what I am planning to do if I get good data. Therefore the quest for data is now one of the priorities during the summer. I was thinking about data regarding some policy or regional shift. Thus, for example, data could be about an effect of a subsidy policy on different agricultural regions. Then I could apply regression discontinuity method for the data analysis.
We also had another PhD course, namely a project management course. However, although the lecturer was very good and inspirational person, I did not found the course very useful. I took it mostly as a language improving exercise than anything else since I have no interests in project management or managing in general. Of course it is useful to be able to manage ones own work but I don’t think that getting a course on that is very useful. Anyway, I’m sure that some participants did found the course useful and we did have some delightful conversations during the course.
There was also a third PhD course, namely Economic Growth and Natural Resources. We had to hand in some home assignments and then there was an exam. This was very interesting course because the topic was in the field of macroeconomics, which I am not familiar with. Therefore it was good introduction to the unexamined territory. Macroeconomics is good for environmental economist because most of the macroeconomic analysis is dynamic. Therefore I might take another macro course in September, which focuses on dynamic optimisation methods. I think it might be particularly useful for me.
It has also become clear that to publish a paper is rather hard task. We got a refusal from a first journal because “the article did not fit the scope of the journal”. The refusal, however, might have been a fortunate thing because the journal, namely the Environmental modelling and software, was probably not a good journal for the article because in the first paper we did not model any environmental aspects. The first paper discussed simply agricultural system consisting of nitrogen and phosphorus yield responses and the development of soil phosphorus. Therefore the scope of the article is clearly agriculture and not environment, although those two scopes are quite related. Only after the refusal I started to understand that the scope of the journal is rather important thing. I started to examine the potential journals for our paper. During this examination I realised that our paper is kind of a weird mixture of data analysis and optimisation. Therefore it might be difficult to find a journal that would consider the paper a good fit for the scope. Anyway, I did submit the paper for another journal and I am now waiting for a refusal or some other answer. I just hope that it will be accepted to some journal since the second paper is a direct extension for the first paper.
The refusal also reminded me of the saying of Hannu Vartiainen after the first Microeconomic lecture: “the PhD work consists of upsides and downsides, mostly downsides”. It certainly is so that the work has been mostly downsides and there have been times when I have considered calling my model a setback-model because there have been so many setbacks down the road.
The second, and actually the most important priority during this summer, is to get a second paper ready. I have been working on it now rather intensively and I think it is coming together quite nicely. So far the analysis has been theoretical, which is a nice change from a mainly empirical and numerical analysis carried out in previous paper. However, the next step is to include leaching functions for nitrogen and phosphorus into the numerical analysis. Therefore the scope is wider in this paper since it will discuss agricultural and environmental aspects via bio-economic modelling. As such the second paper will most likely be easier to sell to journal (compared to the first paper). But, it remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, we still wait for the summer to start here in Finland.
See you next time,
Best regards: Matti Sihvonen
18.05.2017 10:42Full of the joys of spring and springs (Storm in a teacup - water is everywhere BONUS SOILS2SEA)
In the fieldwork the most important is ... smile, thermos and Occupational Health and Safety :)
15.05.2017 16:20BONUS BaltCoast Summer School 2017: Call for applications is now open! (BONUS BALTCOAST blog)
This is the 2nd Summer School organized by BONUS BaltCoast project and after a successful run in 2016 at Klaipeda University (Lithuania) it will take place now in Latvia, coordinated by University of Latvia.
06.05.2017 11:01Equipment explained- part III: the t-brush (Sources & Sinks: A Tale of Coastal Biogeochemistry - BONUS COCOA)
Last time in EE II you learned all about soft sediment coring with a GEMINI/GEMAX corer. Muddy soft sediments are generally sticky, often stinky, and sampling them will most likely make you look like a little piglet that enjoyed a decent roll in its favorite pit. That´s why we wrap us in orange rubber and simply accept the mud stains on everything uncovered, such as… the face.
A bucket full of black mud from the seafloor. Everything not in the bucket can be found on Anni and me, though the picture shows a rather clean state of us (pictures: Ines Bartl, IOW).
But what about the core sleeves that hold our samples, which degree of mud stain is acceptable there?
Very simple: none.
One of the most crucial points in getting reliable data are undisturbed and uncontaminated samples. When working with sediment, a fast track to destroy your sample directly onboard is to get sediments from deeper layers onto the top surface and the water overlying the surface, mixing totally different element compositions and concentrations.
This points a big finger to constant cleaning: fingers, top lids, sub sampling gear and the core sleeves. And with a sleeve diameter of 8-9 cm which tool would be better suited for that job than a t(oilet) brush?
totally serious about this: a toilet brush is one of the essential key tools in
And so romantic in the sunset (picture: Franziska Thoms, IOW).
03.05.2017 12:19Being the last and the first at the same time... (Benthosphere - BONUS COCOA)
Our project-colleague Halina Kendzierska from the University of Gdańsk has defended her PhD thesis and tells us about her experiences. Congratulations and The Benthosphare wish you all the best in your future projects!
14.04.2017 11:50The lost art of writing (and speaking) (BONUS BALTICAPP - Race Against Eutrophication Blog)
Things have been moving quite nicely in recent times. First of all, we got the first article ready and it’s now submitted to a journal. I must say that it was rather challenge for me. The actual writing process proved to be very difficult in the end. I had some real difficulties to put a discussion, conclusions and abstract sections together. This may be due to the fact that we, students in economics, can graduate with surprisingly little amount of reading and writing, since most of our focus is on the mathematical side of things. Most of my studies were about formulating optimization problems and solving them mathematically. Typically the exams required no excessive amount of reading, whereas the problem sets and mathematical examples are important to learn. As a result, one can graduate with flying colors without being very impressive writer (or reader).
Anyway, I participated a scientific writing course, which turned out to be very helpful at this point. Only now have I really started to understand how important it is to actually learn to clearly express your ideas. I think that in mathematically oriented fields it’s rather common to ignore the importance of writing skills. One learns the true value of such skills just when one really needs to publish something. In addition to scientific writing course, I also attended a statistic modelling with R course. This course has also been a very informative one and I’ve learned a lot of important things. I think that statistical modelling is a next step from the basics of statistics. It has also been a very nice course for me because it takes a more practical approach as it focuses on examining the models through examples that are solved with R. In addition, the course is an online course and all the lectures are just in Internet. In addition to theses courses, we have the PhD level course “Economic growth and environmental resources”, which is basically a macroeconomics course. We have to hand in the exercise sets by the end of this month. There require a lot of attention and it’s hard work because I’m not familiar with macroeconomic models. Nevertheless, I’m familiar with the dynamic optimization, which appears to be a primary tool in solving the macroeconomic problems. Therefore the course is very useful for me, because I have to keep practicing all kinds of dynamic analyses. It’s also good to get basic understanding of the most important macro models although I wouldn’t ever do macroeconomic analysis within my work.
We also had a project meeting Stockholm. I gave a presentation of our paper there. I thought it went better than my previous presentations since my English speaking has improved quite a bit since I started and also because the work is now ready. Despite of those improvements, I was still very nervous and I talked very quickly so that no one could interrupt me. As a result, my presentation was too difficult to follow at that point of a day; I realized that I used only abbreviation of the soil phosphorus and I didn’t explain it at any point during the presentation. Thus, I may have lost the audience right in the beginning. Thus, the take-home-message from Stockholm is that I must learn to give clearer and simpler presentations in the future. This will be particularly important, because the paper of ours got accepted to EAERE (European annual environmental and resource economics) 2017 conference. This was very good news and it made me very happy. The conference will be held in Greece (I have never been so far a way from home before). Thus, it will be exciting both professionally and also as an adventure. I look forward to it. At the mean time, I must learn the art of giving presentations. In addition, I must make really rabid progress with the second paper, if I want to graduate in time. Thus, the spring and the summer will be busy, but also exciting time.
See you next time!
Best regards: Matti Sihvonen
01.04.2017 17:56Equipment explained: part II - the GEMAX / GEMINI corer (Sources & Sinks: A Tale of Coastal Biogeochemistry - BONUS COCOA)
Yet, with increasing water depth and subsequently decreasing light, sampling via diving becomes complicated. On the dark side of the sea floor we therefore use sediment corers operated from ships. As corers have no eyes, we work virtually blindfolded which can often feel like gambling (and thus holds a certain kick). Sediment maps are helpful for giving directions, especially in early planning phases; however, often they are extrapolated or outdated and when looking at the first sample coming on deck, you might find that the sediment type has changed over the years, e.g. due to a change of current regime or deposition environment.
Surprises for free, excitement guaranteed- that´s sediment coring!
retrieval of a sediment sample from the sea floor depends largely on the right
corer. Sediment types vary in sturdiness, resp. softness, e.g. comparing sturdy
sand sediment with soft mud sediment; consequently, you have special corers for
each type. If you have followed this blog for some time, you will have heard
about MUC, HAPS, GEMAX, GEMINI, BOX – over the last 3 years, we have had them
Today you will meet the GEMAX/GEMINI corer, which is according to an essay by Boris Winterhalter the “ultimate corer for soft sediment”. Do I need to say more?
The GEMAX /
GEMINI corers are twin gravity corers for soft sediments. They base on the
original Niemistö corer (Niemistö, 1974), which was highly successful with the
only offset of a too small sample size. By doubling the core barrels a twin
corer was born, self-evidently baptized GEMINI. Sample quality was further improved
by increasing the diameter of the core barrels, which created the GEMAX.
Today, both GEMINI and GEMAX are standard corers all along the Baltic Sea coast. They consist of a stainless steel housing which is fitted by acryl core liners with sharpened steel cutters at their ends; those, as the name says, are capable to cut through the sediment. In the end, the core liners will hold the sediment sample. Both corers might look alike, but do not underestimate their difference: even 1 cm variation in core diameter makes a huge difference when trying to fit in a wrong inner core liner. From experience I can say: no, they don´t fit and no, they also cannot be squeezed in. Acryl is a quite solid material.
The corer penetrates soft sediments vertically based on its own weight and the lowering speed of the winch. Upon upwards pull a closing mechanism is triggered that locks the sediment securely in the core liners, creating a nice sediment core of ~ 30-40 cm.
And action: Laetitia, Wytze and Mathias while retrieving the full core liners. Requirements here: be quick, put the plug tight and don´t be afraid of getting muddy (left). My house, my car, my....sediment core: happy mood while subsampling a fresh core (right). (pictures: Ines Bartl, IOW)
Some care needs to be taken for the core liners, which somehow have a tendency to roll over board. Your only solution if you want to have them back: diving- and the circle closes.
Next time in equipment explained: why a toilet brush is an essential tool in sediment coring.
28.02.2017 18:16How stakeholders help to bring results to perfection – Or: One step back, two steps forward. (MIRACLE)
The 4th workshop in Germany, one of the four case study areas of the MIRACLE project, was held on 24th February 2017. Project members and various stakeholders, such as members of farming unions and governmental representatives with an agricultural, environmental or water management background gathered in Magdeburg, Germany, to continue the discussions about various issues connected to the project's aims and subjects.
Besides of following up on the last workshop, discussing the updated hydro-modelling results, and looking at the way forward, a major part of the meeting took the presentation, discussion and verification of the cost structures of the different measures, and the preliminary Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) results. Stakeholders could for instance verify “our” average gross margin in the Selke river area (can be used as an estimate of farmers’ lost income due to implementing a certain measure), or our approach to define “contour ploughing” as cost-neutral. Other potential measures were identified as redundant, e.g. due to being implemented anyway, or due to being no longer supported by the CAP in this specific area. Furthermore, stakeholders offered to provide more specific cost data of some very specific measures (such as the “ventilation and treatment of mine water and mine water retention” or the “dismantling of transverse structures”).
While the CBA results are still broad and based on many assumptions, every stakeholder verification, comment or correction makes it possible to fill more and more gaps, and therefore generate results closer to reality - one step back, two steps forward.