by Christine A. Parisek and Andrew L. Rypel
“The wait is over. Your [California Waterblog 2021 Wrapped] is here.”
As we embark on another new year, we reflect and earnestly thank all of our readers, partners, authors, and friends. Studying water management challenges is complex and requires vision, transdisciplinary thinking, team science, and motivated people. One of our staple products at Center for Watershed Sciences is this – our California Waterblog, which is completing its 10th year. California Waterblog’s central mission is to provide thought-provoking and useful (at least, interesting) ideas and commentary on critical challenges to water issues, resource management, and ecosystem restoration, in a digestible form.
Readership of the blog was up in 2021 to ~200,000 total unique views and 131,000 visitors, about 75% higher versus 2020. We have also risen to over 13,000 current subscribers. Our first year (2012) had just 3,300 visitors total. During most weeks, the blog averages ~2-4K total unique views; but occasionally, posts stretch upwards to very high numbers (e.g., 30k), especially if a blog locks into social media algorithms. As scientists, having an academic paper downloaded or read a few thousand times times would simply be phenomenal! Yet the blog supports this exact kind of information exchange, and, even better, it reaches non-scientists, policy makers, journalists, and members of the public – all of you! In most weeks, the blog captures readers from every state in the USA, and often upwards of 75-100 countries worldwide. This highlights that solutions to California water problems are global in relevance and interest.
Blog topics are quite varied, and we aim to provide a diversity of content to readers. In 2021, 59 unique authors contributed to the Waterblog to curate a total 52 blog posts. Notably, blogs led by new or guest contributors such Wyatt Arnold, José M. Rodríguez-Flores, Sarah Null, Rob Gailey, John Abatzoglou, Katrina Jessoe, Ryan Miller, and Josué Medellín-Azuara, were among our most popular, with a total of 34 unique authors contributing to these blogs. Blog topics in 2021 spanned the gamut from drought, water policy, fish conservation models, historical exclusion and effects on resource management, species’ vulnerability to climate change, reservoirs and dams, groundwater, long-term perspectives, lessons, and art and water management.
Sometimes, studying the variation is the interesting thing, and as blog contributors, we became curious – which blogs and themes did Waterblog readers gravitate towards most in 2021? Therefore, we adapted this week’s blog theme and figures from the annual “Spotify Wrapped” music app campaign to explore this. We compiled and analyzed California Waterblog statistics from 2021 to provide some insight as to which blogs viewers found the most alluring or noteworthy (as measured by total unique views). As expected perhaps, top blogs tended to focus on reservoirs, drought, climate and fish, roughly in that order. And as we descend into a highly uncertain 2022, where our new drought may tighten or loosen its grip (maybe both), these topics will continue as critical issues for California – its ecosystems, egosystems, unique biota, and peoples. Feel free to suggest new blog topics, or share your own favorite Waterblogs, in the comment section below. We hope you continue to enjoy and have a Happy New Year!
Christine Parisek is a PhD Candidate in the Graduate Group of Ecology at UC Davis and a Science Communications Fellow at the Center for Watershed Sciences. Andrew Rypel is an Associate Professor and the Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Chair of coldwater fish ecology at the University of California, Davis. He is a faculty member in the Department of Wildlife, Fish & Conservation Biology and Co-Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences.