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Category: Publications: Engineer Research & Development Center (ERDC)
  • The Response of Vegetated Dunes to Wave Attack

    Abstract: Vegetation is believed to increase the stability of dunes during wave attack, but limited data is available. A physical model study was performed to evaluate changes in the dune stability with and without biomass, both above and belowground. The above and belowground biomass was modeled using wooden dowels and coir fibers, respectively. For both the collision and overwash storm impact regimes, the results of this study clearly demonstrate that the inclusion of biomass in the model dune reduces the erosion and overwash. The combination of both above and belowground biomass was the most effective at reducing erosion followed by belowground biomass, with aboveground biomass providing the smallest benefit regardless of the wave condition and water level. Additionally, the overwash of sediment and water was decreased with the inclusion of biomass, following the same trends as the erosion. As the dune eroded, the storm impact regime transitioned from collision to overwash. The inclusion of biomass delays this transition in storm impact regime, providing greater protection to coastal communities. This study highlights the need to consider dune vegetation for dune construction and coastal planning.
  • The AFWA Dust Emission Scheme for the GOCART Aerosol Model in WRF-Chem v3.8.1

    Abstract: Airborne particles of mineral dust play a key role in Earth’s climate system and affect human activities around the globe. The numerical weather modeling community has undertaken considerable efforts to accurately forecast these dust emissions. Here, for the first time in the literature, we thoroughly describe and document the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) dust emission scheme for the Georgia Institute of Technology–Goddard Global Ozone Chemistry Aerosol Radiation and Transport (GOCART) aerosol model within the Weather Research and Forecasting model with chemistry (WRF-Chem) and compare it to the other dust emission schemes available in WRF-Chem. The AFWA dust emission scheme addresses some shortcomings experienced by the earlier GOCART-WRF scheme. Improved model physics are designed to better handle emission of fine dust particles by representing saltation bombardment. WRF-Chem model performance with the AFWA scheme is evaluated against observations of dust emission in southwest Asia and compared to emissions predicted by the other schemes built into the WRF-Chem GOCART model. Results highlight the relative strengths of the available schemes, indicate the reasons for disagreement, and demonstrate the need for improved soil source data.
  • Expression and Secretion of Active Moringa oleifera Coagulant Protein in Bacillus subtilis

    Abstract: Cationic polypeptide proteins found in the seeds of the tropical plant Moringa oleifera have coagulation efficiencies similar to aluminum and ferric sulfates without their recalcitrant nature. Although these proteins possess great potential to augment or replace traditional coagulants in water treatment, harvesting active protein from seeds is laborious and not cost-effective. Here, we describe an alternative method to express and secrete active M. oleifera coagulant protein (MO) in Bacillus subtilis. A plasmid library containing the MO gene and 173 different types of secretory signal peptides was created and cloned into B. subtilis strain RIK1285. Fourteen of 440 clones screened were capable of secreting MO with yields ranging from 55 to 122 mg/L of growth medium. The coagulant activity of the highest MO secreting clone was evaluated when grown on Luria broth, and cell-free medium from the culture was shown to reduce turbidity in a buffered kaolin suspension by approximately 90% compared with controls without the MO gene. The clone was also capable of secreting active MO when grown on a defined synthetic wastewater supplemented with 0.5% tryptone. Cell-free medium from the strain harboring the MO gene demonstrated more than a 2-fold reduction in turbidity compared with controls. Additionally, no significant amount of MO was observed without the addition of the synthetic wastewater, suggesting that it served as a source of nutrients for the effective expression and translocation of MO into the medium.
  • Reproducibility Assessment and Uncertainty Quantification in Subjective Dust Source Mapping

    Abstract: Accurate dust-source characterizations are critical for effectively modeling dust storms. A previous study developed an approach to manually map dust plume-head point sources in a geographic information system (GIS) framework using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery processed through dust-enhancement algorithms. With this technique, the location of a dust source is digitized and recorded if an analyst observes an unobscured plume head in the imagery. Because airborne dust must be sufficiently elevated for overland dust-enhancement algorithms to work, this technique may include up to 10 km in digitized dust-source location error due to downwind advection. However, the potential for error in this method due to analyst subjectivity has never been formally quantified. In this study, we evaluate a version of the methodology adapted to better enable reproducibility assessments amongst multiple analysts to determine the role of analyst subjectivity on recorded dust source location error. Four analysts individually mapped dust plumes in Southwest Asia and Northwest Africa using five years of MODIS imagery collected from 15 May to 31 August. A plume-source location is considered reproducible if the maximum distance between the analyst point-source markers for a single plume is ≤10 km. Results suggest analyst marker placement is reproducible; however, additional analyst subjectivity-induced error (7 km determined in this study) should be considered to fully characterize locational uncertainty. Additionally, most of the identified plume heads (> 90%) were not marked by all participating analysts, which indicates dust source maps generated using this technique may differ substantially between users.
  • Geotechnical Inspection and Technical Review of Santa Margarita River Marine Corps Air Station Levee, U.S. Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton, CA, 19-20 November 2019

    Abstract: This report describes activities performed, results obtained, and conclusions made from an independent technical review of past levee inspections and the proposed remediation plan for the Santa Margarita Levee that surrounds the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton. In support of the technical review, ERDC personnel performed a supplemental levee inspection on 19 and 20 November 2019 with MCAS personnel. Previous levee inspections had rated the levee system as Unacceptable due to unwanted vegetation encroaching on the levee right-of-way, which prevents full inspection during flooding. Concerns were raised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW) about environmental impacts of the proposed remediation measures and the necessity of such actions. USFW personnel requested an engineering review from an independent party, and ERDC was tasked with performing the independent technical review. The following special report describes the tasks performed and results obtained from the independent technical review.
  • Trace Explosives Detection by Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (CRDS)

    Abstract: We built three successive versions of a thermal decomposition cavity ring-down spectrometer and tested their response to explosives. These explosive compound analyzers successfully detected nitroglycerine, 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), pentaerythryl tetranitrate, hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-s-triazine and triacetone triperoxide (TATP). We determined the pathlength and limits of detection for each, with the best limit of detection being 13 parts per trillion (ppt) of TNT. For most of the explosive tests, the peak height was higher than the expected value, meaning that peroxy radical chain propagation was occurring with each of the explosives and not just the peroxide TATP.
  • Rapid Tidal Reconstruction for the Coastal Hazards System and StormSim Part II: Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

    Abstract: This Coastal and Hydraulics Engineering Technical Note (CHETN) describes the continuing efforts towards incorporating rapid tidal time-series reconstruction and prediction capabilities into the Coastal Hazards System (CHS) and the Stochastic Storm Simulation System (StormSim). The CHS (Nadal-Caraballo et al. 2020) is a national effort for the quantification of coastal storm hazards, including a database and web tool ( for the deployment of results from the Probabilistic Coastal Hazard Analysis (PCHA) framework. These PCHA products are developed from regional studies such as the North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS) (Nadal-Caraballo et al. 2015; Cialone et al. 2015) and the ongoing South Atlantic Coast Study (SACS). The PCHA framework considers hazards due to both tropical and extratropical cyclones, depending on the storm climatology of the region of interest. The CHS supports feasibility studies, probabilistic design of coastal structures, and flood risk management for coastal communities and critical infrastructure. StormSim ( is a suite of tools used for statistical analysis and probabilistic modeling of historical and synthetic storms and for stochastic design and other engineering applications. One of these tools, the Coastal Hazards Rapid Prediction System (CHRPS) (Torres et al. 2020), can perform rapid prediction of coastal storm hazards, including real-time hurricane-induced flooding. This CHETN discusses the quantification and validation of the Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) tidal constituent database (Szpilka et al. 2016) and the tidal reconstruction program Unified Tidal analysis (UTide) (Codiga 2011) in the Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands (PR/USVI) coastal regions. The new methodology discussed herein will be further developed into the Rapid Tidal Reconstruction (RTR) tool within the StormSim and CHS frameworks.
  • Rapid Tidal Reconstruction with UTide and the ADCIRC Tidal Database

    Abstract: The quantification of storm surge is vital for flood hazard assessment in communities affected by coastal storms. The astronomical tide is an integral component of the total still water level needed for accurate storm surge estimates. Coastal hazard analysis methods, such as the Coastal Hazards System and the StormSim Coastal Hazards Rapid Prediction System, require thousands of hydrodynamic and wave simulations that are computationally expensive. In some regions, the inclusion of astronomical tides is neglected in the hydrodynamics and tides are instead incorporated within the probabilistic framework. There is a need for a rapid, reliable, and accurate tide prediction methodology to provide spatially dense reconstructed or predicted tidal time series for historical, synthetic, and forecasted hurricane scenarios. A methodology is proposed to combine the tidal harmonic information from the spatially dense Advanced Circulation hydrodynamic model tidal database with a rapid tidal reconstruction and prediction program. In this study, the Unified Tidal Analysis program was paired with results from the tidal database. This methodology will produce reconstructed (i.e., historical) and predicted tidal heights for coastal locations along the United States eastern seaboard and beyond and will contribute to the determination of accurate still water levels in coastal hazard analysis methods.
  • Quantifying Functional Increases Across a Large-Scale Wetland Restoration Chronosequence

    Abstract: Over 300,000 ha of forested wetlands have undergone restoration within the Mississippi Alluvial Valley region. Restored forest successional stage varies, providing opportunities to document wetland functional increases across a large-scale restoration chronosequence using the Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) approach. Results from >600 restored study sites spanning a 25-year chronosequence indicate that: 1) wetland functional assessment variables increased toward reference conditions; 2) restored wetlands generally follow expected recovery trajectories; and 3) wetland functions display significant improvements across the restoration chronosequence. A functional lag between restored areas and mature reference wetlands persists in most instances. However, a subset of restored sites have attained mature reference wetland conditions in areas approaching or exceeding tree diameter and canopy closure thresholds. Study results highlight the importance of site selection and the benefits of evaluating a suite of wetland functions in order to identify appropriate restoration success milestones and design monitoring programs. For example, wetland functions associated with detention of precipitation (a largely physical process) rapidly increased under post restoration conditions, while improvements in wetland habitat functions (associated with forest establishment and maturation) required additional time. As the wetland science community transitions towards larger scale restoration efforts, effectively quantifying restoration functional improvements will become increasingly important.
  • Predicting the Impact of Aqueous Ions on Fate and Transport of Munition Compounds

    Abstract: A model framework for natural water has been developed using computational chemistry techniques to elucidate the interactions between solvated munition compounds and eight common ions in naturally occurring water sources. The interaction energies, residence times, coordination statistics, and surface preferences of nine munition related compounds with each ion were evaluated. The propensity of these interactions to increase degradation of the munition compound was predicted using accelerated replica QM/MM simulations. The degradation prediction data qualitatively align with previous quantum mechanical studies. The results suggest that primary ions of interest for fate and transport modeling of munition compounds in natural waters may follow the relative importance of SO₄²⁻, Cl⁻ ≫ HCO₃⁻, Na⁺, Mg²⁺ > Ca²⁺, K⁺, and NH₄⁺.