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The ERDC Library supports the mission-related research needs of ERDC scientists and engineers at three physical locations with a centralized library catalog and web site. It also hosts an online digital repository of ERDC-authored reports.

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Category: Research
  • A Definition and Categorization System for Advanced Materials: The Foundation for Risk-Informed Environmental Health and Safety Testing

    Abstract: Novel materials with unique or enhanced properties relative to conventional materials are being developed at an increasing rate. These materials are often referred to as advanced materials (AdMs) and they enable technological innovations that can benefit society. Despite their benefits, however, the unique characteristics of many AdMs, including many nanomaterials, are poorly understood and may pose environmental safety and occupational health (ESOH) risks that are not readily determined by traditional risk assessment methods. To assess these risks while keeping up with the pace of development, technology developers and risk assessors frequently employ risk-screening methods that depend on a clear definition for the materials that are to be assessed (e.g., engineered nanomaterial) as well as a method for binning materials into categories for ESOH risk prioritization. In this study, we aim to establish a practitioner-driven definition for AdMs and a practitioner-validated framework for categorizing AdMs into conceptual groupings based on material characteristics. The definition and categorization framework established here serve as a first step in determining if and when there is a need for specific ESOH and regulatory screening for an AdM as well as the type and extent of risk-related information that should be collected or generated for AdMs and AdM-enabled technologies
  • Captive-Rearing Duration May Be More Important Than Environmental Enrichment for Enhancing Turtle Head-Starting Success

    Abstract: Raising captive animals past critical mortality stages for eventual release (head-starting) is a common conservation tactic. Counterintuitively, post-release survival can be low. Post-release behavior affecting survival could be influenced by captive-rearing duration and housing conditions. Practitioners have adopted environmental enrichment to promote natural behaviors during head-starting such as raising animals in naturalistic enclosures. Using 32 captive-born turtles (Terrapene carolina), half of which were raised in enriched enclosures, we employed a factorial design to explore how enrichment and rearing duration affected post-release growth, behavior, and survival. Six turtles in each treatment (enriched or unenriched) were head-started for nine months (cohort one). Ten turtles in each treatment were head-started for 21 months (cohort two). At the conclusion of captive-rearing, turtles in cohort two were overall larger than cohort one, but unenriched turtles were generally larger than enriched turtles within each cohort. Once released, enriched turtles grew faster than unenriched turtles in cohort two, but we otherwise found minimal evidence suggesting enrichment affected post-release survival or behavior. Our findings suggest attaining larger body sizes from longer captive-rearing periods to enable greater movement and alleviate susceptibility to predation (the primary cause of death) could be more effective than environmental enrichment alone in chelonian head-starting programs where substantial predation could hinder success.
  • Spatial and Temporal Variance of Soil and Meteorological Properties Affecting Sensor Performance—Phase 2

    ABSTRACT: An approach to increasing sensor performance and detection reliability for buried objects is to better understand which physical processes are dominant under certain environmental conditions. The present effort (Phase 2) builds on our previously published prior effort (Phase 1), which examined methods of determining the probability of detection and false alarm rates using thermal infrared for buried-object detection. The study utilized a 3.05 × 3.05 m test plot in Hanover, New Hampshire. Unlike Phase 1, the current effort involved removing the soil from the test plot area, homogenizing the material, then reapplying it into eight discrete layers along with buried sensors and objects representing targets of interest. Each layer was compacted to a uniform density consistent with the background undisturbed density. Homogenization greatly reduced the microscale soil temperature variability, simplifying data analysis. The Phase 2 study spanned May–November 2018. Simultaneous measurements of soil temperature and moisture (as well as air temperature and humidity, cloud cover, and incoming solar radiation) were obtained daily and recorded at 15-minute intervals and coupled with thermal infrared and electro-optical image collection at 5-minute intervals.
  • In Situ Measurements of Directional Wave Spectra from an Unmanned Aerial System

    Purpose: This Coastal and Hydraulics Engineering Technical Note (CHETN) describes the ability to measure the directional-frequency spectrum of sea surface waves based on the motion of a floating unmanned aerial system (UAS). The UAS used in this effort was custom built and designed to land on and take off from the sea surface. It was deployed in the vicinity of an operational wave sensor, the 8 m* array, at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), Field Research Facility (FRF) in Duck, NC. While on the sea surface, an inertial navigation system (INS) recorded the response of the UAS to the incoming ocean waves. Two different INS signals were used to calculate one-dimensional (1D) frequency spectra and compared against the 8 m array. Two-dimensional (2D) directional-frequency spectra were calculated from INS data using traditional single-point-triplet analysis and a data adaptive method. The directional spectrum compared favorably against the 8 m array.
  • Photo-transformation of Aqueous Nitroguanidine and 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one: Emerging Munitions Compounds

    Abstract: Two major components of insensitive munition formulations, nitroguanidine (NQ) and 3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one (NTO), are highly water soluble and therefore likely to photo-transform while in solution in the environment. The ecotoxicities of NQ and NTO solutions are known to increase with UV exposure, but a detailed accounting of aqueous degradation rates, products, and pathways under different exposure wavelengths is currently lacking. Here, we irradiated aqueous solutions of NQ and NTO over a 32-h period at three ultraviolet wavelengths (254 nm, 300 nm, and 350 nm) and analyzed their degradation rates and transformation products. NQ was completely degraded by 30 min at 254 nm and by 4 h at 300 nm, but it was only 10% degraded after 32 h at 350 nm. Mass recoveries of NQ and its transformation products were >80% for all three wavelengths, and consisted of large amounts of guanidine, nitrate, and nitrite, and smaller amounts of cyanamide, cyanoguanidine, urea, and ammonium. NTO degradation was greatest at 300 nm with 3% remaining after 32 h, followed by 254 nm (7% remaining) and 350 nm (20% remaining). Mass recoveries of NTO and its transformation products were high for the first 8 h but decreased to 22e48% by 32 h, with the major aqueous products identified as ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, and a urazole intermediate. Environmental half-lives of NQ and NTO in pure water were estimated as 4 and 6 days, respectively. We propose photo-degradation pathways for NQ and NTO supported by observed and quantified degradation products and changes in solution pH.
  • Variation in Inhibitor Effects on qPCR Assays and implications for eDNA Surveys

    Abstract: Aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys are sometimes impacted by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) inhibitors. We tested varying concentrations of different inhibitors (humic, phytic, and tannic acids; crude leaf extracts) for impacts on quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays designed for eDNA surveys of bighead and silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and Hypophthalmichthys molitrix). We also tested for inhibition by high concentrations of exogenous DNA, hypothesizing that DNA from increasingly closely related species would be increasingly inhibitory. All tested inhibitors impacted qPCR, though only at very high concentrations — likely a function, in part, of having used an inhibitor-resistant qPCR solution. Closer phylogenetic relatedness resulted in inhibition at lower exogenous DNA concentrations, but not at relatively close phylogenetic scales. Inhibition was also influenced by the qPCR reporter dye used. Importantly, different qPCR assays responded differently to the same inhibitor concentrations. Implications of these results are that the inclusion of more than one assay for the same target taxa in an eDNA survey may be an important countermeasure against false negatives and that internal positive controls may not, in the absence of efforts to maximize inhibition compatibility, provide useful information about the inhibition of an eDNA assay.
  • Development of Three-Dimensional Wetting and Drying Algorithm for the Geophysical Scale Transport Multi-Block Hydrodynamic Sediment and Water Quality Transport Modeling System (GSMB)

    Introduction: The Environmental Laboratory (EL) and the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) have jointly completed a number of large-scale hydrodynamic, sediment and water quality transport studies. EL and CHL have successfully executed these studies utilizing the Geophysical Scale Transport Modeling System (GSMB). The model framework of GSMB is composed of multiple process models as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1 shows that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) accepted wave, hydrodynamic, sediment and water quality transport models are directly and indirectly linked within the GSMB framework. The components of GSMB are the two-dimensional (2D) deep-water wave action model (WAM) (Komen et al. 1994, Jensen et al. 2012), data from meteorological model (MET) (e.g., Saha et al. 2010, shallow water wave models (STWAVE) (Smith et al. 1999), Coastal Modeling System wave (CMS-WAVE) (Lin et al. 2008), the large-scale, unstructured two-dimensional Advanced Circulation (2D ADCIRC) hydrodynamic model (, and the regional scale models, Curvilinear Hydrodynamics in three dimensions-Multi-Block (CH3D-MB) (Luong and Chapman 2009), which is the multi-block (MB) version of Curvilinear Hydrodynamics in three-dimensions-Waterways Experiments Station (CH3D-WES) (Chapman et al. 1996, Chapman et al. 2009), MB CH3D-SEDZLJ sediment transport model (Hayter et al. 2012), and CE-QUAL Management - ICM water quality model (Bunch et al. 2003, Cerco and Cole 1994). Task 1 of the DOER project, “Modeling Transport in Wetting/Drying and Vegetated Regions,” is to implement and test three-dimensional (3D) wetting and drying (W/D) within GSMB. This technical note describes the methods and results of Task 1. The original W/D routines were restricted to a single vertical layer or depth-averaged simulations. In order to retain the required 3D or multi-layer capability of MB-CH3D, a multi-block version with variable block layers was developed (Chapman and Luong 2009). This approach requires a combination of grid decomposition, MB, and Message Passing Interface (MPI) communication (Snir et al. 1998). The MB single layer W/D has demonstrated itself as an effective tool in hyper-tide environments, such as Cook Inlet, Alaska (Hayter et al. 2012). The code modifications, implementation, and testing of a fully 3D W/D are described in the following sections of this technical note.
  • Dimensional Analysis of Structural Response in Complex Biological Structures

    Abstract: The solution to many engineering problems is obtained through the combination of analytical, computational and experimental methods. In many cases, cost or size constraints limit testing of full-scale articles. Similitude allows observations made in the laboratory to be used to extrapolate the behavior to full-scale system by establishing relationships between the results obtained in a scaled experiment and those anticipated for the full-scale prototype. This paper describes the application of the Buckingham Pi theorem to develop a set of non-dimensional parameters that are appropriate for describing the problem of a distributed load applied to the rostrum of the paddlefish. This problem is of interest because previous research has demonstrated that the rostrum is a very efficient structural system. The ultimate goal is to estimate the response of a complex, bio-inspired structure based on the rostrum to blast load. The derived similitude laws are verified through a series of numerical experiments having a maximum error of 3.39%.
  • Modeling of a Multi-Month Thermal IR Study

    Abstract: Inconsistent and unacceptable probability of detection (PD) and false alarm rates (FAR) due to varying environmental conditions hamper buried object detection. A 4-month study evaluated the environmental parameters impacting standoff thermal infra-red (IR) detection of buried objects. Field observations were integrated into a model depicting the temporal and spatial thermal changes through a 1-week period utilizing a 15-minute time-step interval. The model illustrates the surface thermal observations obtained with a thermal IR camera contemporaneously with a 3-d presentation of subsurface soil temperatures obtained with 156 buried thermocouples. Precipitation events and subsequent soil moisture responses synchronized to the temperature data are also included in the model simulation. The simulation shows the temperature response of buried objects due to changes in incoming solar radiation, air/surface soil temperature changes, latent heat exchange between the objects and surrounding soil, and impacts due to precipitation/changes in soil moisture. Differences are noted between the thermal response of plastic and metal objects as well as depth of burial below the ground surface. Nearly identical environmental conditions on different days did not always elicit the same spatial thermal response.
  • Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study: Coastal Texas Flood Risk Assessment: Hydrodynamic Response and Beach Morphology

    Abstract: The US Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District, is executing the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study coastal storm risk management (CSRM) project for the region. The project is currently in the feasibility phase. The primary goal is to develop CSRM measures that maximize national net economic development benefits. This report documents the coastal storm water level and wave hazard, including sea level rise, for a variety of flood risk management alternatives. Four beach restoration alternatives for Galveston Island and Bolivar peninsula were evaluated. Suites of synthetic tropical and historical non-tropical storms were developed and modeled. The CSTORM coupled surge-and-wave modeling system was used to accurately characterize storm circulation, water level, and wave hazards using new model meshes developed from high-resolution land and sub-aqueous surveys for with- and without-project scenarios. Beach morphology stochastic response was modeled with a Monte Carlo life-cycle simulation approach using the CSHORE morphological evolution numerical model embedded in the StormSim stochastic modeling system. Morphological and hydrodynamic response were primarily characterized with probability distributions of the number of rehabilitations and overflow.