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Category: Technology
  • A Pulse of Mercury and Major Ions in Snowmelt Runoff from a Small Arctic Alaska Watershed

    Abstract: Atmospheric mercury (Hg) is deposited to Polar Regions during springtime atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs) that require halogens and snow or ice surfaces. The fate of this Hg during and following snowmelt is largely unknown. We measured Hg, major ions, and stable water isotopes from the snowpack through the entire spring melt runoff period for two years. Our small (2.5 ha) watershed is near Barrow (now Utqiaġvik), Alaska. We measured discharge, made 10 000 snow depths, and collected over 100 samples of snow and meltwater for chemical analysis in 2008 and 2009 from the watershed snowpack and ephemeral stream channel. Our results suggest AMDE Hg complexed with Cl− or Br− may be less likely to be photochemically reduced and re-emitted to the atmosphere prior to snowmelt, and we estimate that roughly 25% of the Hg in snowmelt is attributable to AMDEs. Projected Arctic warming, with more open sea ice leads providing halogen sources that promote AMDEs, may provide enhanced Hg deposition, reduced Hg emission and, ultimately, an increase in snowpack and snowmelt runoff Hg concentrations.
  • Effects of Geologic Outcrops on Long-Term Geomorphic Trends: New Madrid, MO, to Hickman, KY

    Abstract: The Mississippi River between New Madrid, MO, and Hickman, KY, is of particular interest because of divergent trends in water surface profiles at the upstream and downstream ends of the reach. This report documents the investigation of the bathymetry, geology, and hydraulics of this segment of the river. The report shows that the area near River Mile 901 above Head of Passes strongly affects the river stages at low flows. This part of the river can experience high shear stresses when flows fall below 200,000 cfs, as opposed to most other locations where shear stress increases with flow. One-dimensional hydraulic modeling was also used to demonstrate that an increase of depth at a single scour hole, such as the one downstream from Hickman near River Mile 925, is unlikely to cause reach-wide degradation.
  • 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.
  • Increased Rainfall Stimulates Permafrost Thaw Across a Variety of Interior Alaskan Boreal Ecosystems

    Abstract: Earth’s high latitudes are projected to experience warmer and wetter summers in the future but ramifications for soil thermal processes and permafrost thaw are poorly understood. Here we present 2750 end of summer thaw depths representing a range of vegetation characteristics in Interior Alaska measured over a 5-year period. This included the top and third wettest summers in the 91-year record and three summers with precipitation close to mean historical values. Increased rainfall led to deeper thaw across all sites with an increase of 0.7 ± 0.1 cm of thaw per cm of additional rain. Disturbed and wetland sites were the most vulnerable to rain-induced thaw with ~1 cm of surface thaw per additional 1 cm of rain. Permafrost in tussock tundra, mixed forest, and conifer forest was less sensitive to rain-induced thaw. A simple energy budget model yields seasonal thaw values smaller than the linear regression of our measurements but provides a first-order estimate of the role of rain-driven sensible heat fluxes in high-latitude terrestrial permafrost. This study demonstrates substantial permafrost thaw from the projected increasing summer precipitation across most of the Arctic region.
  • Mercury Isotopes Reveal Atmospheric Gaseous Mercury Deposition Directly to the Arctic Coastal Snowpack

    Abstract: Springtime atmospheric mercury depletion events (AMDEs) lead to snow with elevated mercury concentrations (>200 ng Hg/L) in the Arctic and Antarctic. During AMDEs gaseous elemental mercury (GEM) is photochemically oxidized by halogens to reactive gaseous mercury which is deposited to the snowpack. This reactive mercury is either photochemically reduced back to GEM and re-emitted to the atmosphere or remains in the snowpack until spring snowmelt. GEM is also deposited to the snowpack and tundra vegetation by reactive surface uptake (dry deposition) from the atmosphere. There is little consensus on the proportion of AMDE-sourced Hg versus Hg from dry deposition that is released in spring runoff. We used mercury stable isotope measurements of GEM, snowfall, snowpack, snowmelt, surface water, vegetation, and peat from a northern Alaska coastal watershed to quantify Hg sources. Although high Hg concentrations are deposited to the snowpack during AMDEs, we estimate that ∼76 to 91% is released back to the atmosphere prior to snowmelt. Mercury deposited to the snowpack as GEM comprises the majority of snowmelt Hg and has a Hg stable isotope composition similar to Hg deposited by reactive surface uptake of GEM into the leaves of trees in temperate forests. This GEM-sourced Hg is the dominant Hg we measured in the spring snowpack and in tundra peat permafrost deposits.
  • Complex Network Analysis for Early Detection of Failure Mechanisms in Resilient Bio-structures

    Abstract: Bio-structures owe their remarkable mechanical properties to their hierarchical geometrical arrangement as well as heterogeneous material properties. This dissertation presents an integrated, interdisciplinary approach that employs computational mechanics combined with flow network analysis to gain fundamental insights into the failure mechanisms of high performance, light-weight, structured composites by examining the stress flow patterns formed in the nascent stages of loading for the rostrum of the paddlefish. The data required for the flow network analysis was generated from the finite element analysis of the rostrum. The flow network was weighted based on the parameter of interest, which is stress in the current study. The changing kinematics of the structural system was provided as input to the algorithm that computes the minimum-cut of the flow network. The proposed approach was verified using two classical problems three- and four-point bending of a simply-supported concrete beam. The current study also addresses the methodology used to prepare data in an appropriate format for a seamless transition from finite element binary database files to the abstract mathematical domain needed for the network flow analysis. A robust, platform-independent procedure was developed that efficiently handles the large datasets produced by the finite element simulations. Results from computational mechanics using Abaqus and complex network analysis are presented.
  • Rotor Blade Design Framework for Airfoil Shape Optimization with Performance Considerations

    Abstract: A framework for optimizing rotor blade airfoil shape is presented. The framework uses two digital workflows created within the Galaxy Simulation Builder (GSB) software package. The first is a workflow enabling the automated creation of a surrogate model for predicting airfoil performance coefficients. An accurate surrogate model for the rapid generation of airfoil coefficient tables has been developed using linear interpolation techniques that is based on C81Gen and ARC2D CFD codes. The second workflow defines the rotor blade optimization problem using GSB and the Dakota numerical optimization library. The presented example uses a quasi-Newton optimization algorithm to optimize the tip region of the UH-60A main rotor blade with respect to vehicle performance. This is accomplished by morphing the blade tip airfoil shape for optimum power, subject to a constraint on the maximum pitch link load.
  • A Physics-Informed Neural Network for Sound Propagation in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

    Abstract: We describe what we believe is the first effort to develop a physics-informed neural network (PINN) to predict sound propagation through the atmospheric boundary layer. PINN is a recent innovation in the application of deep learning to simulate physics. The motivation is to combine the strengths of data-driven models and physics models, thereby producing a regularized surrogate model using less data than a purely data-driven model. In a PINN, the data-driven loss function is augmented with penalty terms for deviations from the underlying physics, e.g., a governing equation or a boundary condition. Training data are obtained from Crank-Nicholson solutions of the parabolic equation with homogeneous ground impedance and Monin-Obukhov similarity theory for the effective sound speed in the moving atmosphere. Training data are random samples from an ensemble of solutions for combinations of parameters governing the impedance and the effective sound speed. PINN output is processed to produce realizations of transmission loss that look much like the Crank-Nicholson solutions. We describe the framework for implementing PINN for outdoor sound, and we outline practical matters related to network architecture, the size of the training set, the physics-informed loss function, and challenge of managing the spatial complexity of the complex pressure.
  • Helicopter Rotor Blade Multiple-Section Optimization with Performance Considerations

    Abstract: This paper presents advancements in a surrogate-based, rotor blade design optimization framework for improved helicopter performance. The framework builds on previous successes by allowing multiple airfoil sections to designed simultaneously to minimize required rotor power in multiple flight conditions. Rotor power in hover and forward flight, at advance ratio 𝜇 = 0.3, are used as objective functions in a multi-objective genetic algorithm. The framework is constructed using Galaxy Simulation Builder with optimization provided through integration with Dakota. Three independent airfoil sections are morphed using ParFoil and aerodynamic coefficients for the updated airfoil shapes (i.e., lift, drag, moment) are calculated using linear interpolation from a database generated using C81Gen/ARC2D. Final rotor performance is then calculated using RCAS. Several demonstrative optimization case studies were conducted using the UH-60A main rotor. The degrees of freedom for this case are limited to the airfoil camber, camber crest position, thickness, and thickness crest position for each of the sections. The results of the three-segment case study show improvements in rotor power of 4.3% and 0.8% in forward flight and hover, respectively. This configuration also yields greater reductions in rotor power for high advance ratios, e.g., 6.0% reduction at 𝜇 = 0.35, and 8.8% reduction at 𝜇 = 0.4.