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Archive: 2021
  • Rapid Formation of Iron Sulfides Alters Soil Morphology and Chemistry Following Simulated Marsh Restoration

    Abstract: Many marshes show signs of degradation due to fragmentation, lack of sediment inputs, and erosion which may be exacerbated by sea level rise and increasing storm frequency/intensity. As a result, resource managers seek to restore marshes via introduction of sediment to increase elevation and stabilize the marsh platform. Recent field observations suggest the rapid formation of iron sulfide (FeS) materials following restoration in several marshes. To investigate, a laboratory microcosm study evaluated the formation of FeS following simulated restoration activities under continually inundated, simulated drought, and simulated tidal conditions. Results indicate that FeS horizon development initiated within 16 days, expanding to encompass > 30% of the soil profile after 120 days under continuously inundated and simulated tidal conditions. Continuously inundated conditions supported higher FeS content compared to other treatments. Dissolved and total Fe and S measurements suggest the movement and diffusion of chemical constituents from native marsh soil upwards into the overlying sediments, driving FeS precipitation. The study highlights the need to consider biogeochemical factors resulting in FeS formation during salt marsh restoration activities. Additional field research is required to link laboratory studies, which may represent a worst-case scenario, with in-situ conditions.
  • USACE Advanced Modeling Object Standard: Release 1.0

    Abstract: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Advanced Modeling Object Standard (AMOS) has been developed by the CAD/BIM Technology Center for Facilities, Infrastructure, and Environment to establish standards for support of the Advanced Modeling process within the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Federal Government. The critical component of Advanced Modeling is the objects themselves- and either make the modeling process more difficult or more successful. This manual is part of an initiative to develop a nonproprietary Advanced Modeling standard that incorporates both vertical construction and horizontal construction objects that will address the entire life cycle of facilities within the DoD. The material addressed in this USACE Advanced Modeling Object Standard includes a classification organization that is needed to identify models for specific use cases. Compliance with this standard will allow users to know whether the object model they are getting is graphically well developed but data poor or if it does have the data needed for creating contract documents. This capability will greatly reduce the designers’ efforts to either build an object or search/find/edit an object necessary for the development of their project. Considering that an advanced model may contain hundreds of objects this would represent a huge time savings and improve the modeling process.
  • Vegetation Community Changes in Response to Phragmites Management at Times Beach, Buffalo, New York

    Abstract: Management of invasive phragmites (Phragmites australis [Cav.] Trin. Ex Steud.) in the United States has proven challenging over the last several decades. Various methods for control exist, but integrated approaches appear to have the most success. However, documentation of vegetation community–wide responses to these approaches remains limited. This study monitored plant community changes at Times Beach, New York, over a five-year period. In concert with mowing and thatch removal in all areas, the study evaluated two herbicides separately and together, representing three experimental treatment areas (TAs), for control efficacy by measuring plant community structure. Phragmites was targeted for treatments, avoiding native and nonproblematic non-native species when possible, to preserve beneficial habitat during phragmites control efforts. Monitoring results showed significant drops in phragmites relative cover, relative frequency, and importance values due to integrated management, regardless of herbicide treatment, with corresponding increases in these same values for native and other plant species. This suggests that prudent removal of phragmites is compatible with beneficial plant restorative efforts to maintain and improve habitat in infested areas.
  • Inundation Depth and Duration Impacts on Wetland Soils and Vegetation: State of Knowledge

    Abstract: The following synthesizes studies investigating plant and soil responses to increased inundation in order to support ecosystem restoration efforts related to the alteration of natural wetland hydrodynamics. Specific topics include hydrologic regimes, soil response to inundation, and implications for vegetation communities exposed to increased water depths. Results highlight the important interactions between water, soils, and vegetation that determine the trajectory and fate of wetland ecosystems, including the development of feedback loops related to marsh degradation and subsidence. This report then discusses the knowledge gaps related to implications of inundation depth, timing, and duration within an ecosystem restoration context, identifying opportunities for future research while providing source materials for practitioners developing restoration projects.
  • Threatened, Endangered, and At-Risk Species for Consideration into Climate Change Models in the Northeast

    Abstract: This special report provides a selection process for choosing priority species using the specific focus of high-elevation, forested habitats in the North Atlantic to demonstrate the process. This process includes criteria for choosing invasive species to incorporate into models, given the predicted spread of invasive plant species because of climate change. Discussed in this report are the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Threatened and Endangered Species Team portal, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Information for Planning and Consultation Portal, the nonprofit organization Partners in Flight’s watch list, the US Geological Survey’s Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation model, and NatureServe’s interagency effort Landfire. The data linked this montane habitat with a species of conservation concern, Cartharus bicknelli and the endangered squirrel Glaucomys sabrinus as target species and with Elaeagnus umbellate, Robinia pseudoacacia, Rhamnus cathartica, and Acer planoides as invasive species. Incorporating these links into the climate change framework developed by Davis et al. (2018) will create predictive models for the impacts of climate change on TER-S, which will affect land management decisions in the region.
  • Backward Erosion Testing: Magnolia Levee

    Abstract: Using a confined flume device, an experimental study investigated the critical horizontal gradient of soils obtained from a site identified as potentially vulnerable to backward erosion piping (BEP). Tests were conducted on glacial outwash material obtained from a sand and gravel quarry in the vicinity of Magnolia Levee in the community of Magnolia, OH. The two bulk samples collected from the quarry had similar grain-size distributions, grain roundness, and depositional environments as the foundation materials beneath the levee. Samples were prepared at various densities and subjected to gradual increases of flow in a wooden flume with an acrylic top until BEP was observed. The critical average horizontal gradient ranged from 0.21 to 0.30 for a bulk sample with a coefficient of uniformity of 1.6, while tests conducted on a bulk sample with a coefficient of uniformity of 2.5 yielded critical average horizontal gradients of 0.31 to 0.36. The critical average gradients measured during these tests compared favorably to values in the literature after applying adjustments according to Schmertmann’s method.
  • Backward Erosion Progression Rates from Small-Scale Flume Tests

    Abstract: Backward erosion piping (BEP) is an internal erosion mechanism by which erosion channels progress upstream, typically through cohesionless or highly erodible foundation materials of dams and levees. As one of the primary causes of embankment failures, usually during high pool events, the probability of BEP-induced failure is commonly evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for existing dams and levees. In current practice, BEP failure probability is quantitatively assessed assuming steady state conditions with qualitative adjustments for temporal aspects of the process. In cases with short-term hydraulic loads, the progression rate of the erosion pipe may control the failure probability such that more quantitative treatment of the temporal development of erosion is necessary to arrive at meaningful probabilities of failure. This report builds upon the current state of the practice by investigating BEP progression rates through a series of laboratory experiments. BEP progression rates were measured for nine uniform sands in a series of 55 small-scale flume tests. Results indicate that the pipe progression rates are proportional to the seepage velocity and can be predicted using equations recently proposed in the literature.
  • Synthesis and Characterization of Biological Nanomaterial/Poly(vinylidene fluoride) Composites

    Abstract: The properties of composite materials are strongly influenced by both the physical and chemical properties of their individual constituents, as well as the interactions between them. For nanocomposites, the incorporation of nano-sized dopants inside a host material matrix can lead to significant improvements in mechanical strength, toughness, thermal or electrical conductivity, etc. In this work, the effect of cellulose nanofibrils on the structure and mechanical properties of cellulose nanofibril poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) composite films was investigated. Cellulose is one of the most abundant organic polymers with superior mechanical properties and readily functionalized surfaces. Under the current processing conditions, cellulose nanofibrils, as-received and 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl radical (TEMPO) oxidized, alter the crystallinity and mechanical properties of the composite films while not inducing a crystalline phase transformation on the 𝛾 phase PVDF composites. Composite films obtained from hydrated cellulose nanofibrils remain in a majority 𝛾 phase, but also exhibit a small, yet detectable fraction of 𝛼 and ß PVDF phases.
  • CuO Enhances the Photocatalytic Activity of Fe₂O₃ through Synergistic Reactive Oxygen Species Interactions

    Abstract: Iron oxide (α-Fe2O3, hematite) colloids were synthesized under hydrothermal conditions and investigated as catalysts for the photodegradation of an organic dye under broad-spectrum illumination. To enhance photocatalytic performance, Fe2O3 was combined with other transition-metal oxide (TMO) colloids (e.g., CuO and ZnO), which are sensitive to different regions of the solar spectrum (far visible and ultraviolet, respectively), using a ternary blending approach for compositional mixtures. For a variety of ZnO/Fe2O3/CuO mole ratios, the pseudo-first-order rate constant for methyl orange degradation was at least double the sum of the individual Fe2O3 and CuO rate constants, indicating there is an underlying synergy governing the photocatalysis reaction with these combinations of TMOs. A full compositional study was carried out to map the interactions between the three TMOs. Additional experiments probed the identity and role of reactive oxygen species and elucidated the mechanism by which CuO enhanced Fe2O3 photodegradation while ZnO did not. The increased photocatalytic performance of Fe2O3 in the presence of CuO was associated with hydroxyl radical ROS, consistent with heterogeneous photo-Fenton mechanisms, which are not accessible by ZnO. These results imply that low-cost photocatalytic materials can be engineered for high performance under solar illumination by selective pairing of TMOs with compatible ROS.
  • Estimating Growing-Season Root Zone Soil Moisture from Vegetation Index-Based Evapotranspiration Fraction and Soil Properties in the Northwest Mountain Region, USA

    Abstract: A soil moisture retrieval method is proposed, in the absence of ground-based auxiliary measurements, by deriving the soil moisture content relationship from the satellite vegetation index-based evapotranspiration fraction and soil moisture physical properties of a soil type. A temperature–vegetation dryness index threshold value is also proposed to identify water bodies and underlying saturated areas. Verification of the retrieved growing season soil moisture was performed by comparative analysis of soil moisture obtained by observed conventional in situ point measurements at the 239-km2 Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, Idaho, USA (2006–2009), and at the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN) soil moisture measurement sites in Sundance, Wyoming (2012–2015), and Lewistown, Montana (2014–2015). The proposed method best represented the effective root zone soil moisture condition, at a depth between 50 and 100 cm, with an overall average R2 value of 0.72 and average root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.042.