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Category: Publications: Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL)
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  • National Ordinary High Water Mark Field Delineation Manual for Rivers and Streams : Interim Version

    Abstract: The ordinary high water mark (OHWM) defines the lateral extent of nontidal aquatic features in the absence of adjacent wetlands in the United States. The federal regulatory definition of the OHWM, 33 CFR 328.3(c)(7), states the OHWM is “that line on the shore established by the fluctuations of water and indicated by physical characteristics such as [a] clear, natural line impressed on the bank, shelving, changes in the character of soil, destruction of terrestrial vegetation, the presence of litter and debris, or other appropriate means that consider the characteristics of the surrounding areas.” This is the first manual to present a methodology for nationwide identification and delineation of the OHWM. A two-page data sheet and field procedure outline a weight-of-evidence (WoE) methodology to organize and evaluate observations at stream sites. This manual presents a consistent, science-based method for delineating the OHWM in streams. It also describes regional differences and challenges in identifying the OHWM at sites disturbed by human-induced or natural changes and illustrates how to use remote data to structure field inquiries and interpret field evidence using the principles of fluvial science. The manual demonstrates that, in many landscape settings, the OHWM may be located near the bankfull elevation.
  • Understanding Plant Volatiles for Environmental Awareness: Chemical Composition in Response to Natural Light Cycles and Wounding

    Abstract: Plants emit a bouquet of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in response to both biotic and abiotic stresses and, simultaneously, eavesdrop on emitted signals to activate direct and indirect defenses. By gaining even a slight insight into the semantics of interplant communications, a unique awareness of the operational environment may be obtainable (e.g., knowledge of a disturbance within). In this effort, we used five species of plants, Arabidopsis thaliana, Panicum virgatum, Festuca rubra, Tradescantia zebrina, and Achillea millefolium, to produce and query VOCs emitted in response to mechanical wounding and light cycles. These plants provide a basis for further investigation in this communication system as they span model organisms, common house plants, and Arctic plants. The VOC composition was complex; our parameter filtering often enabled us to reduce the noise to fewer than 50 compounds emitted over minutes to hours in a day. We were able to detect and measure the plant response through two analytical methods. This report documents the methods used, the data collected, and the analyses performed on the VOCs to determine if they can be used to increase environmental awareness of the battlespace.
  • Meteorological Influences of a Major Dust Storm in Southwest Asia during July–August 2018

    Abstract: Dust storms can be hazardous for aviation, military activities, and respiratory health and can occur on a wide variety of spatiotemporal scales with little to no warning. To properly forecast these storms, a comprehensive understanding of the meteorological dynamics that control their evolution is a prerequisite. To that end, we chose a major dust storm that occurred in Southwest Asia during July–August 2018 and conducted an observation-based analysis of the meteorological conditions that influenced the storm’s evolution. We found that the main impetus behind the dust storm was a large-scale meteorological system (i.e., a cyclone) that affected Southwest Asia. It seems that cascading effects from this system produced a smaller, near-surface warm anomaly in Mesopotamia that may have triggered the dust storm, guided its trajectory over the Arabian Peninsula, and potentially catalyzed the development of a small low-pressure system over the southeastern end of the peninsula. This low-pressure system may have contributed to some convective activity over the same region. This type of analysis may provide important information about large-scale meteorological forcings for not only this particular dust storm but also for future dust storms in Southwest Asia and other regions of the world.
  • A 𝘬-Means Analysis of the Voltage Response of a Soil-Based Microbial Fuel Cell to an Injected Military-Relevant Compound (Urea)

    Abstract: Biotechnology offers new ways to use biological processes as environmental sensors. For example, in soil microbial fuel cells (MFCs), soil electro-genic microorganisms are recruited to electrodes embedded in soil and produce electricity (measured by voltage) through the breakdown of substrate. Because the voltage produced by the electrogenic microbes is a function of their environment, we hypothesize that the voltage may change in a characteristic manner given environmental disturbances, such as the contamination by exogenous material, in a way that can be modelled and serve as a diagnostic. In this study, we aimed to statistically analyze voltage from soil MFCs injected with urea as a proxy for gross contamination. Specifically, we used 𝘬-means clustering to discern between voltage output before and after the injection of urea. Our results showed that the 𝘬-means algorithm recognized 4–6 distinctive voltage regions, defining unique periods of the MFC voltage that clearly identify pre- and postinjection and other phases of the MFC lifecycle. This demonstrates that 𝘬-means can identify voltage patterns temporally, which could be further improve the sensing capabilities of MFCs by identifying specific regions of dissimilarity in voltage, indicating changes in the environment.
  • Cold Regions Vehicle Start: Next-Generation Lithium-Ion Battery Technologies for Stryker Vehicles

    Abstract: Operating vehicles in extremely cold environments is a significant problem for not only the public but also the military. The Department of Defense has encountered issues when trying to reliably cold start large, heavy-duty military vehicles, specifically the M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle, in cold regions. As noted in previous work, the issue stems from the current battery technology’s limited temperature range. This current project utilized the protocol established in the previous phase to evaluate next-generation lithium-ion battery technologies for use in cold regions. Selected battery technologies met necessary military specifications for use in large military combat vehicles and were evaluated using a mechanical load system developed in previous work to simulate the starting of a Stryker engine. This work also evaluated the performance of the existing battery technology of a Stryker under Alaskan winter temperatures, which will verify the accuracy of the simulated cold room testing on the mechanical load system. The results of the tests showed that while the system was able to reliably operate down to −20°C, the battery management system encountered challenges at the lower end of the temperature range. This technology has a potential to reliably support cold regions operations but needs further evaluation.
  • Dissolution of NTO, DNAN, and Insensitive Munitions Formulations and Their Fates in Soils: SERDP ER-2220

    Abstract: The US military is interested in replacing TNT (2,4,6-trinitrotoluene) and RDX (1,3,5-hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine) with DNAN (2,4-dinitroanisole) and NTO (3-nitro-1,2,4-triazol-5-one), which have similar explosive characteristics but are less likely to detonate unintentionally. Although these replacements are good explosives, basic information about their fate and transport was needed to evaluate their environmental impact and life-cycle management. This project measured their dissolution, photodegradation, and how aqueous solutions interact with soils, data critical to determining exposure potential and, consequently, risk.
  • Environmentally Informed Buried Object Recognition

    The ability to detect and classify buried objects using thermal infrared imaging is affected by the environmental conditions at the time of imaging, which leads to an inconsistent probability of detection. For example, periods of dense overcast or recent precipitation events result in the suppression of the soil temperature difference between the buried object and soil, thus preventing detection. This work introduces an environmentally informed framework to reduce the false alarm rate in the classification of regions of interest (ROIs) in thermal IR images containing buried objects. Using a dataset that consists of thermal images containing buried objects paired with the corresponding environmental and meteorological conditions, we employ a machine learning approach to determine which environmental conditions are the most impactful on the visibility of the buried objects. We find the key environmental conditions include incoming short-wave solar radiation, soil volumetric water content, and average air temperature. For each image, ROIs are computed using a computer vision approach and these ROIs are coupled with the most important environmental conditions to form the input for the classification algorithm. The environmentally informed classification algorithm produces a decision on whether the ROI contains a buried object by simultaneously learning on the ROIs with a classification neural network and on the environmental data using a tabular neural network. On a given set of ROIs, we have shown that the environmentally informed classification approach improves the detection of buried objects within the ROIs.
  • Willis Coupling in One-dimensional Layered Bulk Media

    Abstract: Willis coupling, which couples the constitutive equations of an acoustical material, has been applied to acoustic metasurfaces with promising results. However, less is understood about Willis coupling in bulk media. In this paper a multiple-scales homogenization method is used to analyze the source and interpretation of Willis coupling in one-dimensional bulk media without any hidden degrees of freedom, or one-dimensional layered media. As expected from previous work, Willis coupling is shown to arise from geometric asymmetries, but is further shown to depend greatly on the measurement position. In addition, a discussion of the predicted material properties, including Willis coupling, of macroscopically inhomogeneous media is presented.
  • Numerical Modeling of Mesoscale Infrasound Propagation in the Arctic

    Abstract: The impacts of characteristic weather events and seasonal patterns on infrasound propagation in the Arctic region are simulated numerically. The methodology utilizes wide-angle parabolic equation methods for a windy atmosphere with inputs provided by radiosonde observations and a high-resolution reanalysis of Arctic weather. The calculations involve horizontal distances up to 200 km for which interactions with the troposphere and lower stratosphere dominate. Among the events examined are two sudden stratospheric warmings, which are found to weaken upward refraction by temperature gradients while creating strongly asymmetric refraction from disturbances to the circumpolar winds. Also examined are polar low events, which are found to enhance negative temperature gradients in the troposphere and thus lead to strong upward refraction. Smaller-scale and topographically driven phenomena, such as low-level jets, katabatic winds, and surface-based temperature inversions, are found to create frequent surface-based ducting out to 100 km. The simulations suggest that horizontal variations in the atmospheric profiles, in response to changing topography and surface property transitions, such as ice boundaries, play an important role in the propagation.
  • Data Acquisition Software for Impedance Tube Measurements

    Abstract: Transmission impedance tube measurements are necessary to measure the asymmetric acoustic property known as Willis coupling. However, software is required to measure and store data from an impedance tube for acoustic material characterization. This report details the overall structure of custom-developed software built from low-level functions. Software libraries from the data acquisition system as well as the HDF5 file system are the basis for the code. A command line user interface guides a user through the necessary steps in data collection.