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Category: Technology
  • Mobile Harbor, Alabama Navigation Study: Ship Simulation Report

    Abstract: Mobile Bay is a large estuary located in the southwest corner of Alabama, which connects to the Gulf of Mexico. Mobile Harbor contains the only port in the state that supports ocean-going vessels. Some of the larger vessels calling on the port experience transit delays and limited cargo capacity, so a study was conducted by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District (CESAM), and the Alabama State Port Authority to investigate channel improvements. In 2017, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) assisted CESAM in screening proposed deepening and widening alternatives in Mobile Bay by completing a Feasibility Level Ship Simulation (FLSS) study using the ERDC Ship/Tow Simulator. These lower-resolution databases from the FLSS study were used as a foundation to complete a more robust navigation study in 2020 to test the proposed modifications to Mobile Harbor. During this study, three main areas were focused on: a bend easing, a passing lane, and a turning basin. Testing of the proposed design was evaluated over the course of 2 weeks with eight pilots. Assessment of the proposed modifications was accomplished through analysis of ship simulations completed by experienced local pilots, discussions, track plots, run sheets, and final pilot surveys.
  • Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) for determination of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol in volatile emissions from soil disturbance

    Abstract: A method is described here for the concentration and determination of geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB) from the gaseous phase, with translation to field collection and quantification from soil disturbances in situ. The method is based on the use of solid-phase microextraction (SPME) fibers for adsorption of volatile chemicals from the vapor phase, followed by desorption into a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS) for analysis. The use of a SPME fiber allows simple introduction to the GC-MS without further sample preparation. Several fiber sorbent types were studied and the 50/30 μm DVB/CAR/PDMS was the best performer to maximize the detected peak areas of both analytes combined. Factors such as extraction temperature and time along with desorption temperature and time were explored with respect to analyte recovery. An extraction temperature of 30 ◦C for 10 min, with a desorption temperature of 230 ◦C for 4 min was best for the simultaneous analysis of both geosmin and 2-MIB without complete loss of either one. The developed method was used successfully to measure geosmin and 2-MIB emission from just above disturbed and undisturbed soils, indicating that this method detects both compounds readily from atmospheric samples. Both geosmin and 2-MIB were present as background concentrations in the open air, while disturbed soils emitted much higher concentrations of both compounds. Surprisingly, 2-MIB was always detected at higher concentrations than geosmin, indicating that a focus on its detection may be more useful for soil emission monitoring and more sensitive to low levels of soil disturbance.
  • Energy Atlas—Mapping Energy-Related Data for DoD Lands in Alaska: Phase 1—Assembling the Data and Designing the Tool

    Abstract: The U.S. Army is the largest Department of Defense (DoD) land user in Alaska, including remote areas only accessible by air, water, or wintertime ice roads. Understanding where energy resources and related infrastructure exist on and adjacent to DoD installations and training lands can help inform Army decision-makers, especially in remote locations like Alaska. The Energy Atlas–Alaska provides a value-added resource to support decision-making for investments in infrastructure and diligent energy management, helping Army installations become more resilient and sustainable. The Energy Atlas–Alaska utilizes spatial information and provides a consistent GIS (geographic information system) framework to access and examine energy and related resource data such as energy resource potential, energy corridors, and environmental information. The database can be made accessible to DoD and its partners through an ArcGIS-based user interface that provides effective visualization and functionality to support analysis and to inform DoD decision-makers. The Energy Atlas–Alaska helps DoD account for energy in contingency planning, acquisition, and life-cycle requirements and ensures facilities can maintain operations in the face of disruption.
  • Optimizing the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS)

    Abstract: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) continue to affect lakes and waterways across the nation, often resulting in environmental and economic damage at regional scales. The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and collaborators have continued research on the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System (HABITATS) project to develop a rapidly deployable and scalable system for mitigating large HABs. The second year of the project focused on optimization research, including (1) development of a new organic flocculant formulation for neutralization and flotation of algal cells; (2) testing and initial optimization of a new, high-throughput biomass dewatering system with low power requirements; (3) development, design, assembly, and initial testing of the first shipboard HABITATS prototype; (4) execution of two field pilot studies of interception and treatment systems in coordination with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; (5) conversion of algal biomass into biocrude fuel at pilot scale with a 33% increase in yield compared to the previous bench scale continuous-flow reactor studies; and (6) refinement of a scalability analysis and optimization model to guide the future development of full-scale prototypes.
  • Evaluating Drone Truthing as an Alternative to Ground Truthing: An Example with Wetland Plant Identification

    Purpose: Satellite remote sensing of wetlands provides many advantages to traditional monitoring and mapping methods. However, remote sensing often remains reliant on labor- and resource- intensive ground truth data for wetland vegetation identification through image classification training and accuracy assessments. Therefore, this study sought to evaluate the use of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) data as an alternative or supplement to traditional ground truthing techniques in support of remote sensing for identifying and mapping wetland vegetation.
  • Installation Resilience in Cold Regions Using Energy Storage Systems

    Abstract: Electrical energy storage (EES) has emerged as a key enabler for access to electricity in remote environments and in those environments where other external factors challenge access to reliable electricity. In cold climates, energy storage technologies face challenging conditions that can inhibit their performance and utility to provide electricity. Use of available energy storage technologies has the potential to improve Army installation resilience by providing more consistent and reliable power to critical infrastructure and, potentially, to broader infrastructure and operations. Sustainable power, whether for long durations under normal operating conditions or for enhancing operational resilience, improves an installation’s ability to maintain continuity of operations for both on- and off-installation missions. Therefore, this work assesses the maturity of energy storage technologies to provide energy stability for Army installations in cold regions, especially to meet critical power demands. The in-formation summarized in this technical report provides a reference for considering various energy storage technologies to support specific applications at Army installations, especially those installations in cold regions.
  • Characterizing Snow Surface Properties Using Airborne Hyperspectral Imagery for Autonomous Winter Mobility

    Abstract: With changing conditions in northern climates it is crucial for the United States to have assured mobility in these high-latitude regions. Winter terrain conditions adversely affect vehicle mobility and, as such, they must be accurately characterized to ensure mission success. Previous studies have attempted to remotely characterize snow properties using varied sensors. However, these studies have primarily used satellite-based products that provide coarse spatial and temporal resolution, which is unsuitable for autonomous mobility. Our work employs the use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mounted hyperspectral camera in tandem with machine learning frameworks to predict snow surface properties at finer scales. Several machine learning models were trained using hyperspectral imagery in tandem with in-situ snow measurements. The results indicate that random forest and k-nearest neighbors models had the lowest Mean Absolute Error for all surface snow properties. A Pearson correlation matrix showed that density, grain size, and moisture content all had a significant positive correlation to one another. Mechanically, density and grain size had a slightly positive correlation to compressive strength, while moisture had a much weaker negative correlation. This work provides preliminary insight into the efficacy of using hyperspectral imagery for characterizing snow properties for autonomous vehicle mobility.
  • Phenology of Competitive Interactions and Implications for Management of the Invasive Wetland Plant Alternanthera philoxeroides

    Purpose: Phenological differences between invading plants and members of recipient communities may increase the success of invaders because of priority effects. Thus, the application of management when the invader has a phenological advantage (for example, early in the year) can benefit other species by increasing resource availability. This technical note summarizes results from a combination of field observations and a mesocosm experiment to explore whether phenological differences between the invasive wetland plant, alligatorweed (Alternanthera philoxeroides [Mart.] Grseb.), and resident species contribute to alligatorweed success. We documented over two years the early-season growth of alligatorweed and other species at 12 sites in Louisiana, USA. We then conducted a subsequent mesocosm competition experiment between alligatorweed and a common wetland emergent species, spotted lady’s thumb (Persicaria maculosa [L.] Small), over a full year to detect differences in timing of growth and competitive interactions under two fertilizer levels.
  • Environmental Factors Affecting Coastal and Estuarine Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV)

    Abstract: Submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) growing in estuarine and coastal marine systems provides crucial ecosystem functions ranging from sediment stabilization to habitat and food for specific species. SAV systems, however, are sensitive to a number of environmental factors, both anthropogenic and natural. The most common limiting factors are light limitation, water quality, and salinity, as reported widely across the literature. These factors are controlled by a number of complex processes, however, varying greatly between systems and SAV populations. This report seeks to conduct an exhaustive examination of factors influencing estuarine and coastal marine SAV habitats and find the common threads that tie these ecosystems together. Studies relating SAV habitats in the United States to a variety of factors are reviewed here, including geomorphological and bathymetric characteristics, sediment dynamics, sedimentological characteristics, and water quality, as well as hydrologic regime and weather. Tools and methods used to assess each of these important factors are also reviewed. A better understanding of fundamental environmental factors that control SAV growth will provide crucial information for coastal restoration and engineering project planning in areas populated by SAVs.
  • Technical Guide for the Development, Evaluation, and Modification of Stream Assessment Methods for the Corps Regulatory Program

    ABSTRACT: The U.S. Army Corps Regulatory Program considers the loss (impacts) and gain (compensatory mitigation) of aquatic resource functions as part of Clean Water Act Section 404 permitting and compensatory mitigation decisions. To better inform this regulatory decision-making, the Regulatory Program needs transparent and objective approaches to assess the function and condition of aquatic resources, including streams. Therefore, the Regulatory Program needs function-based stream assessments (1) to characterize a stream’s condition or function, (2) to improve understanding of the impact of a proposed action on an aquatic resource, and/or (3) to inform the development of stream compensatory mitigation tools rooted in stream condition and/or function. A function-based stream assessment can provide regulatory decision makers with the resources to objectively consider alternatives, minimize impacts, assess un-avoidable impacts, determine mitigation requirements, and monitor the success of mitigation projects. A multiagency National Committee on Stream Assessment (NCSA) convened to create these guidelines to inform the development of new methods and evaluation of both national-level and regional methods currently in use. The resulting guidelines present nine phases, including rationale and recommendations to facilitate work efforts. The NCSA hopes that this technical guide promotes transparency, technical defensibility, and consistent application of stream assessments in the Regulatory Program.