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Category: Research
  • Birds of the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area, Portsmouth, Virginia, 2008-2020

    Abstract: This report presents the results of a long-term trend analyses of seasonal bird community data from a monitoring effort conducted on the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA) from 2008 to 2020, Portsmouth, VA. The USACE Richmond District collaborated with the College of William and Mary and the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory, Waterbird Team, to conduct year-round semimonthly area counts of the CIDMMA to examine species presence and population changes overtime. This effort provides information on the importance of the area to numerous bird species and bird species’ groups and provides an index to those species and group showing significant changes in populations during the monitoring period. We identified those species regionally identified as Highest, High, and Moderate Priority Species based on their status as rare, sensitive, or in need of conservation attention as identified by the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture (ACJV), Bird Conservation Region (BCR), New England/Mid-Atlantic Bird Conservation Area (BCR 30). Of 134 ranked priority species in the region, the CIDMMA supported 102 of 134 (76%) recognized in the BCR, including 16 of 19 (84%) of Highest priority ranked species, 47 of 60 (78.3%) of High priority species, and 39 of 55 (71%) of Moderate priority species for BCR 30. All bird count and species richness data collected were fitted to a negative binomial (mean abundance) or Poisson distribution (mean species richness) and a total of 271 species and over 1.5 million birds were detected during the monitoring period. Most all bird species and species groups showed stable or increasing trends during the monitoring period. These results indicate that the CIDMMA is an important site that supports numerous avian species of local and regional conservation concern throughout the year.
  • A Fuzzy Epigenetic Model for Representing Degradation in Engineered Systems

    Abstract: Degradation processes are implicated in a large number of system failures, and are crucial to understanding issues related to reliability and safety. Systems typically degrade in response to stressors, such as physical or chemical environmental conditions, which can vary widely for identical units that are deployed in different places or for different uses. This situational variance makes it difficult to develop accurate physics-based or data-driven models to assess and predict the system health status of individual components. To address this issue, we propose a fuzzy set model for representing degradation in engineered systems that is based on a bioinspired concept from the field of epigenetics. Epigenetics is concerned with the regulation of gene expression resulting from environmental or other factors, such as toxicants or diet. One of the most studied epigenetic processes is methylation, which involves the attachment of methyl groups to genomic regulatory regions. Methylation of specific genes has been implicated in numerous chronic diseases, so provides an excellent analog to system degradation. We present a fuzzy set model for characterizing system degradation as a methylation process based on a set-theoretic representation for epigenetic modeling of engineered systems. This model allows us to capture the individual dynamic relationships among a system, environmental factors, and state of health .
  • Wave Attenuation of Coastal Mangroves at a Near-Prototype Scale

    Abstract: A physical model study investigating the dissipation of wave energy by a 1:2.1 scale North American red mangrove forest was performed in a large-scale flume. The objectives were to measure the amount of wave attenuation afforded by mangroves, identify key hydrodynamic parameters influencing wave attenuation, and provide methodologies for application. Seventy-two hydrodynamic conditions, comprising irregular and regular waves, were tested. The analysis related the dissipation to three formulations that can provide estimates of wave attenuation for flood risk management projects considering mangroves: damping coefficient β, drag coefficient CD, and Manning’s roughness coefficient n. The attenuation of the incident wave height through the 15.12 m long, 1:2.1 scale mangrove forest was exponential in form and varied from 13%–77%. Water depth and incident wave height strongly influenced the amount of wave attenuation. Accounting for differences in water depth using the sub-merged volume fraction resulted in a common fit of the damping coefficient as a function of relative wave height and wave steepness. The drag coefficient demonstrated a stronger relationship with the Keulegan–Carpenter number than the Reynolds number. The linear relationship be-tween relative depth and Manning’s n was stronger than that between Manning’s n and either relative wave height or wave steep
  • Analytic Methods for Establishing Restoration Trajectories

    Abstract: This special report identifies metrics (standard and novel) and analytic approaches to developing trajectories and then describes the conceptual process of using those metrics and approaches to develop restoration trajectories to inform adaptive management in salt-marsh systems. We identify the composite time series trajectory (CTST) approach, in which metrics are measured from restoration sites of different ages within a small spatial range, and the retrospective single-site trajectory (RSST) approach, in which the same restoration metrics are measured over time at one restoration site. In all, we assessed the metrics of 39 studies of salt-marsh restoration in the United States between 1991 and 2019.
  • Occurrence of Silver, Bighead, and Black Carp in Waters Managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers

    Abstract: This technical report (TR) documents the distribution of Invasive Carp - Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), Bighead Carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), and Black Carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus) in US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) managed waters. Invasive carp were introduced into the US nearly half a century ago. As they spread across the US, they compete with and consume native species and Silver Carp jumping behavior reduces recreational use. The USACE is responsible for management of waterbodies at more than 440 projects. Information on these projects including the presence of Invasive Carp is reported in the USACE Operations and Maintenance Business Information Link (OMBIL) database. To supplement the Invasive Carp information from OMBIL, 47 online ichthyology collection and observation databases were searched; 18 had information on Invasive Carp locations. Combining the collection, observation and OMBIL reporting information, 82 USACE projects in 19 districts in 6 of 8 divisions have Silver/Bighead Carp and 19 projects in 9 districts and 3 divisions have Black Carp. Understanding the distribution of Invasive Carp is important to enable managers to be pro-active: planning control efforts, posting informational signs, instituting live bait restrictions, and thus reducing the chances of species introduction or limiting species impact.
  • Literature Review: Macrohabitat Metrics to Identify Presence of Chiroptera on the Landscape in the United States

    Abstract: This special report reviews current scientific literature to identify the most commonly cited metrics used to describe the macrohabitat criteria important for Chiroptera presence in the United States. The review evaluates 69 scientific articles from 1994 to 2018. The most commonly cited metrics were divided into four main categories: tree-species-level metrics, landscape-level metrics, distance metrics, and topographic and atmospheric metrics. Of all metrics found, the top six most common metrics noted across all articles were percent canopy cover, diameter at breast height (DBH), forest type, distance to water, distance to roads or other urban features, and tree density. In addition, 27 of the 47 (57%) bat species located within the United States were represented. These metrics provide important insight into the regional or national species-level distribution and assist with modeling the relationship between species distribution and habitat change.
  • Qualification of Hanna Instruments HI9829 for the Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations

    Abstract: A new, commercially available, field-portable water sensor was evaluated for efficacy during operation and compatibility with current Environmental Toolkit for Expeditionary Operations (ETEO) software. The ETEO provides sensors to Soldiers to rapidly identify and quantify environmental contamination in soil, air, and water at potential new base sites during initial reconnaissance to ensure safety and minimize unnecessary remediation efforts by the Army. In addition to streamlined environmental baseline survey (EBS) reporting, the ETEO can provide rapid analysis of potential environmental contamination to support various Military applications. The Hanna Instruments HI9829 multiparameter water meter was selected following a survey of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies and analyzed by researchers from the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) for inclusion in the ETEO design since it can rapidly and accurately measure 14 different properties. Usability tests were conducted with researchers unfamiliar with the technology, and a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) were developed to operate the device. The software for the tool was successfully integrated into the ETEO system for rapid data analysis. The HI9829 has been demonstrated in various scenarios at ERDC and other locations; including Ft. Leonard Wood, MO, at which several visitors reviewed the operation of the equipment and other ETEO technologies. The Thermo Scientific Gemini, another sensor, which can detect organic constituents in various matrices via Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy was also investigated but eliminated from the ETEO design as it could not adequately detect a Military-relevant compound in an environmental matrix. Regardless, the addition of the HI9829 provides water quality monitoring to the ETEO design and greatly improves its capability to address various applications.
  • Ship Simulator of the Future in Virtual Reality

    Introduction: The Army’s modernization priorities include the development of augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) simulations for enabling the regiment and increasing soldier readiness. The use of AR/VR technology at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is also growing in the realm of military and civil works program missions. The ERDC Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) has developed a ship simulator to evaluate bay channels across the world; however, the current simulator has little to no physical realism in nearshore coastal regions (Figure 1). Thus, the ERDC team is researching opportunities to advance ship simulation to deliver the Ship Simulator of the Future (SSoF). The SSoF will be equipped with a VR mode and will more accurately resolve nearshore wave phenomena by ingesting precalculated output from a Boussinesq-type wave model. This initial prototype of the SSoF application is intended for research and development purposes; however, the technologies employed will be applicable to other disciplines and project scopes, including the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) and ship and coastal structure design in future versions.
  • Evaluation of Climatic and Hydroclimatic Resources to Support the US Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Program

    Abstract: Short-term climatic and hydrologic interactions, or hydroclimatology, are an important consideration when delineating the geographic extent of aquatic resources and assessing whether an aquatic resource is a jurisdictional water of the United States (WOTUS) and is therefore subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA). The now vacated 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) required the evaluation of precipitation and other hydroclimatic conditions to assess the jurisdictional status of an aquatic resource based on normal hydroclimatic conditions. Short-term hydroclimatic conditions, such as antecedent precipitation, evapotranspiration, wetland delineation, and streamflow duration assessments, provide information on an aquatic resource’s geo-graphic extent, hydrologic characteristics, and hydrologic connectivity with other aquatic resources. Here, researchers from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) evaluate tools and data available to practitioners for assessing short-term hydroclimatic conditions. The work highlights specific meteorological phenomena that are important to consider when assessing short-term hydroclimatic conditions that affect the geographic extent and hydrologic characteristics of an aquatic resource. The findings suggest that practitioners need access to data and tools that more holistically consider the impact of short-term antecedent hydroclimatology on the entire hydrologic cycle, rather than tools based solely on precipitation.
  • A Revisit and Update on the Verification and Validation of the Coastal Modeling System (CMS): Report 1–Hydrodynamics and Waves

    Abstract: This is the first part of a two-part report that revisits and updates the verification and validation (V&V) of the Coastal Modeling System (CMS). The V&V study in this part of the report focuses on hydrodynamic and wave modeling. With the updated CMS code (Version 5) and its latest graphical user interface, the Surface-water Modeling System (Version 13), the goal of this study is to revisit some early CMS V&V cases and assess some new cases on model performance in coastal applications. The V&V process includes the comparison and evaluation of the CMS output against analytical solutions, laboratory experiments in prototype cases, and field cases in and around coastal inlets and navigation projects. The V&V results prove that the basic physics incorporated are represented well, the computational algorithms implemented are accurate, and the coastal processes are reproduced well. This report provides the detailed descriptions of those test simulations, which include the model configuration, the selection of model parameters, the determination of model forcing, and the quantitative assessment of the model and data comparisons. It is to be hoped that, through the V&V process, the CMS users will better understand the model’s capability and limitation as a tool to solve real-world problems.