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Archive: 2022
  • Ecological Model Development: Toolkit for interActive Modeling (TAM)

    Overview: Ecological models provide crucial tools for informing many aspects of ecosystem restoration and management, ranging from increasing understanding of complex ecological functions to prioritizing restoration sites and quantifying benefits for project reporting. The diversity of ecosystem types and restoration objectives often precludes the use of existing models; as such, model development is commonly required to inform restoration decision-making. Index-based habitat models are a common approach for assessing ecosystem condition. These models relate habitat quality to species’ distributions. Habitat suitability (quality) typically ranges on a scale from 0 to 1. Habitat models have been developed to assess habitat suitability for specific taxa, communities, or ecosystem functions. Restoration-project timelines often require that these models be developed rapidly and in conjunction with many external stakeholders or partners. Here, the Toolkit for interActive Modeling (TAM) is proposed as a platform for rapidly developing index-based models, particularly for US Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) ecosystem-restoration or mitigation planning processes. The TAM is a consistent quantitative framework that allows for development of a generic platform for index-based model development
  • Evaluation of Methods for Monitoring Herbaceous Vegetation

    Abstract: This special report seeks to advance the field of ecological restoration by reviewing selected reports on the processes, procedures, and protocols associated with monitoring of ecological restoration projects. Specifically, this report identifies selected published herbaceous vegetation monitoring protocols at the national, regional, and local levels and then evaluates the recommended sampling design and methods from these identified protocols. Finally, the report analyzes the sampling designs and methods in the context of monitoring restored herbaceous vegetation at US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) ecosystem restoration sites. By providing this information and the accompanying analyses in one document, this special report aids the current effort to standardize data-collection methods in monitoring ecosystem restoration projects.
  • Installation Utility Monitoring and Control System Technical Guide

    Abstract: Army policy calls for each installation to install a building automation system (aka utility monitoring and control system [UMCS]) to provide for centralized monitoring of buildings and utilities to reduce energy and water commodity and maintenance costs. Typically, the UMCS, including building control systems (BCS), is installed and expanded in piecemeal fashion resulting in intersystem incompatibilities. The integration of multivendor BCSs into a single basewide UMCS, and subsequent UMCS operation, can present technical and administrative challenges due to its complexity and cybersecurity requirements. Open Control Systems technology and open communications protocols, including BACnet, LonWorks, and Niagara Framework, help overcome technical incompatibilities. Additional practical considerations include funding, control systems commissioning, staffing, training, and the need for a commitment to proper operation, use, and sustainment of the UMCS. This document provides guidance to Army installations to help achieve a successful basewide UMCS through its full life cycle based on DoD criteria and technical requirements for Open Control Systems and cybersecurity. It includes institutional knowledge on technical solutions and business processes amassed from decades of collaboration with Army installations and learned from and with their staff. Detailed activities spanning both implementation and sustainment include planning, procurement, installation, integration, cybersecurity authorization, and ongoing management.
  • Thermal Infra-Red Comparison Study of Buried Objects between Humid and Desert Test Beds

    Abstract: This study pertains to the thermal variations caused by buried objects and their ramifications on soil phenomenology. A multitude of environmental conditions were investigated to observe the effect on thermal infrared sensor performance and detection capabilities. Correlations between these external variables and sensor contrast metrics enable determinable key factors responsible for sensor degradation. This document consists of two parts. The first part is a summary of data collected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer and Research and Development Center Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (ERDC-CRREL), ERDC-Geotechnical Structures Laboratory, and Desert Research Institute at the Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) site in February 2020 and observations from this activity. The second part is a comparison of target visibility between data collected at YPG and data collected at the ERDC-CRREL test site in 2018.
  • Identification and Preventative Treatment of Overwintering Cyanobacteria in Sediments: A Literature Review

    Abstract: Freshwaters can experience growths of toxin-producing cyanobacteria or harmful algal blooms (HABs). HAB-producing cyanobacteria can develop akinetes, which are thick-enveloped quiescent cells akin to seeds in vascular plants or quiescent colonies that overwinter in sediment. Overwintering cells produce viable “seed beds” for HAB resurgences and preventative treatments may diminish HAB intensity. The purpose of this literature review was to identify (1) environmental factors triggering germination and growth of overwintering cells, (2) sampling, identification, and enumeration methods, and (3) feasibility of preventative algaecide treatments. Conditions triggering akinete germination (light ≥0.5 µmol m-2s-1, temperature 22-27℃) differ from conditions triggering overwintering Microcystis growth (temperature 15-30℃, nutrients, mixing). Corers or dredges are used to collect surficial (0-2 cm) sediment layers containing overwintering cells. Identification and enumeration via microscopy are aided by dilution, sieving, or density separation of sediment. Grow-out studies simulate environmental conditions triggering cell growth and provide evidence of overwintering cell viability. Lines of evidence supporting algaecide efficacy for preventative treatments include (1) field studies demonstrating scalability and efficacy of algaecides against benthic algae, (2) data suggesting similar sensitivities of overwintering and planktonic Microcystis cells to a peroxide algaecide, and (3) a mesocosm study demonstrating a decrease in HAB severity following preventative treatments. This review informs data needs, monitoring techniques, and potential efficacy of algaecides for preventative treatments of overwintering cells.
  • Understanding and Improving Snow Processes in Noah-MP over the Northeast United States via the New York State Mesonet

    Abstract: Snow is a critical component of the global hydrologic cycle and is a key input to river and stream flow forecasts. In 2016, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched the National Water Model (NWM) to provide a high-fidelity numerical forecast of streamflow integrated with the broader atmospheric prediction modeling framework. The NWM is coupled to the atmospheric model using the Noah-MP land surface modeling framework. While snow in Noah-MP has been consistently evaluated in the western United States, less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing its performance in the Northeast US (NEUS). The newly installed New York State Mesonet (NYSM), a network of high-quality surface meteorological stations distributed across New York State, provides a unique opportunity to evaluate Noah-MP performance in the NEUS. In this report, we document the methodology used to perform single-column simulations using meteorological inputs from the NYSM and compare the point evaluations against baseline NWM performance. We further discuss how enhanced surface energy balance measurements at a selection of NYSM sites can be used to evaluate specific components of Noah-MP and present initial results.
  • Swan Island: Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan

    Abstract: Swan Island is a 10.12 ha island located in the Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Because of its value as a natural wave break for the town of Ewell on nearby Smith Island, as well as the ongoing erosion and subsidence of the island, in 2019 US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)–Baltimore District placed 45,873 m³ of dredged sediment and planted 200,000 marsh plants. This restoration provided an opportunity to quantify the engineering (that is, resilience) and ecological performance of the island, postplacement. The lack of quantitative data on the performance of natural features such as islands has led to perceived uncertainties that are often cited as barriers to implementation. To address these data gaps, a multidisciplinary collaboration of five government entities identified project objectives and monitoring parameters through a series of mediated workshops and then developed a conceptual model to articulate those parameters and the linkages between them. This monitoring and adaptive management plan (MAMP) documents those monitoring parameters and procedures and can serve as an example for other scales, regions, and research questions. Documenting research and monitoring efforts may help to foster widespread acceptance of nature-based solutions such as islands.
  • Development of a Three-Dimensional Vegetative Loss Mechanism for the Geophysical Scale Transport Multi-Block Hydrodynamic Sediment and Water Quality Transport Modeling System (GSMB)

    PURPOSE: The US Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Environmental Laboratory (EL) and Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL) have completed several large scale hydrodynamic, sediment and water quality transport studies. These studies have been successfully executed utilizing the Geophysical Scale Transport Modeling System (GSMB), which is composed of multiple process models (Figure 1). Due to being directly and indirectly linked within the GSMB framework, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) accepted wave, hydrodynamic, sediment, and water quality transport models are both directly and indirectly linked within the GSMB framework.
  • User Guide: The DEM Breakline and Differencing Analysis Tool—Gridded Elevation Model Analysis with a Convenient Graphical User Interface

    Abstract: Gridded elevation models of the earth’s surface derived from airborne lidar data or other sources can provide qualitative and quantitative information about the terrain and its surface features through analysis of the local spatial variation in elevation. The DEM Breakline and Differencing Analysis Tool was developed to extract and display micro-terrain features and vegetative cover based on the numerical modeling of elevation discontinuities or breaklines (breaks-in-slope), slope, terrain ruggedness, local surface optima, and the local elevation difference between first surface and bare earth input models. Using numerical algorithms developed in-house at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Geospatial Research Laboratory, various parameters are calculated for each cell in the model matrix in an initial processing phase. The results are combined and thresholded by the user in different ways for display and analysis. A graphical user interface provides control of input models, processing, and display as color-mapped overlays. Output displays can be saved as images, and the overlay data can be saved as raster layers for input into geographic information systems for further analysis.
  • Environmental Evaluation and Management of Dredged Material for Beneficial Use: A Regional Beneficial Use Testing Manual for the Great Lakes

    Abstract: The Environmental Evaluation and Management of Dredged Material for Beneficial Use: A Regional Beneficial Use Testing Manual for the Great Lakes (a.k.a. Great Lakes Beneficial Use Testing Manual) is a resource document providing technical guidance for evaluating the suitability of dredged sediment for beneficial use in aquatic and terrestrial environments in the Great Lakes region. The procedures in this manual are based on the Environmental Laboratory extensive research, working with US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Great Lakes districts, state resource agencies, and local stakeholders seeking to develop dredged material beneficial use alternatives consistent with regional needs and goals. This manual is the first guidance document developed by USACE for evaluating the environmental suitability of dredged material specifically for beneficial use placements. It provides a tiered framework for evaluating the environmental suitability of aquatic and upland beneficial uses consistent with the Inland Testing Manual and the Upland Testing Manual. This manual is intended to serve as a regional platform to increase collaborative problem-solving and endorse a common understanding of the scientific and institutional practices for evaluating dredged material for any beneficial use. Dredged sediment may be managed as a valuable resource, with great potential to create economic, environmental, and social benefits.