2011 Posters on the Hill

The following posters represented the geosciences and geography at CUR’s Posters on the Hill, April 13, 2011.

Arizona
STUDENT: Lujendra Ojha
INSTITUTION: University of Arizona
FACULTY ADVISOR: Alfred McEwen
POSTER TITLE: Discovery, orientation, distribution and formation of a mass wasting process on Mars: Transient Slope Lineae.
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: High resolution images of Mars acquired with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have allowed us to carry out detailed analyses of surface processes on Mars. A new method of change detection was developed to characterize temporal changes on Mars due to currently active geologic processes. The method uses high resolution (1 m/post) Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and their associated orthorectified images. Orthorectified images helps eliminate any distortion on the images created by different viewing geometry of camera. Through this process, flow-like features were discovered, which were named “Transient Slope Lineae”, or TSL. They form on southern-mid latitudes of Mars during southern summer. At southern mid-latitudes the surface temperature can exceed the sublimation and in some extreme cases the melting point of water during this time. Temperature higher than 300K is needed to melt water ice, however, water ice with impurities like perchlorate, have lower melting point. TSLs forming only during times when surface temperature is high enough to
melt or sublimate ice. Based on the seasonality, geographical and orientation distribution of these features, they form due to either sublimation/melting of water/brine ice. If these features are formed due to liquid water, it has a significant implication towards search for extraterrestrial life.

Maine
STUDENT: Jacqueline M Boudreau
INSTITUTION: University of New England
FACULTY ADVISOR: Charles Tilburg
POSTER TITLE: Destruction of the Delaware Bay Ecosystem by the Invasive species Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) : A study of the their behavioral and dominating presence
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Invasive species cause extensive ecological damage by dominating a region, wilderness areas, particular habits, and outcompeting native species. The Chinese Mitten crab, Eriocheir sinensis known for its hairy mitten-like claws and high migration ranges, is one such species that originated in Asia. Recently, it has been spotted in estuarine communities and fisherman’s crab pots in Delaware Bay. Bordered by the state of New Jersey to the north and the state of Delaware to the south, Delaware Bay is one of the richest biological resources on the East Coast. It is home to hundreds of marine species and a $7 million dollar Blue Crab commercial and recreational crabbing industry whose larvae are susceptible to predation by the mitten crab. As part of the crab’s life cycle, females spawn larvae that then spend two to three weeks free-floating vertically in the water column before settling closer to shore. Eventual settlement can then be determined by the movement and behavior of the crab larvae. Using a larval swimming behavior model coupled to a circulation model, we show that environmental factors such as wind direction, magnitude, and different larvae behavior are strong determinants of settlement patterns and in all help to determine whether larval settlement is to be expected on New Jersey or Delaware sides of the bay. Greater knowledge of the settlement patterns will help to understand how the larvae will react to climate change and will aid resource managers in determining their possible future settlement locations.

Minnesota
STUDENT: Jeremy Anthony
INSTITUTION: Augsburg College
FACULTY ADVISOR: John Zobitz
POSTER TITLE: Understanding Ecosystem Carbon Uptake and its Relationship to Environmental Variables using Wavelets
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Recently, much public attention and scientific effort has addressed the biogeochemical responses of terrestrial ecosystems to anticipated changes in climate. The objective of this research is to investigate ecosystem carbon uptake at a high elevation coniferous forest using mathematical tools and measurements related to the biogeochemical cycling of the forest. I examined carbon uptake in relationship to measured environmental variables such as temperature and sunlight. I used advanced mathematical techniques (wavelets) to contrast these environmental variables. Utilizing wavelets allows for the comparison of the coupling or decoupling of environmental variables to carbon uptake at hourly, daily, monthly, and seasonal time scales. From the years 1999-2007, there was a general trend in decoupling between carbon uptake and temperature over the daily time scale. The result of this decoupling over the years poses many questions of the current and future response of this ecosystem to environmental variation. Future research plans include: statistically analyzing the wavelet data; applying our technique to additional ecosystems across the United States and the world; further connecting these mathematical tools to measurements made in the environmental geosciences.

Pennsylvania
STUDENT: Brian Michael Culp
INSTITUTION: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
FACULTY ADVISOR: Cynthia Venn
POSTER TITLE: Integration of Quickbird Satellite Imagery and GIS to Map Subzones within a Salt Marsh near Wallops Island, VA.
DIVISION: Geosciences

ABSTRACT: Mapping coastal marshes using remote sensing techniques provides a means of monitoring large coastal areas with a greater frequency than is possible using ground surveys. We compared high resolution (0.6m/pixel) imagery to ground-based plant survey data (transects every meter on each of three 50 X 50 meter plots) collected in a salt marsh near Wallops Island, VA, to determine the ability to detect small changes in vegetation within low marsh and high marsh areas. We created a high resolution (0.6m/pixel) infrared false color image covering a large area of the marsh by the process of pansharpening. When the three detailed hand-mapped plots of vegetation were overlaid on the pansharpened images, some of the mapped subzones of the low marsh and high marsh were clearly identifiable. The patterns that clearly correlated with distinct subzones in the ground truthed plots were then used to identify and quantify similar subzones in the available imagery covering a much larger area of the salt marsh. GIS would be the ideal platform with which to track and analyze this information over time. Several methods of integration will be explored to determine the most efficient and effective method. Implementation of this method may provide a means of monitoring small scale changes in Wallops Island salt marsh subzones over time and provide a useful tool for coastal managers.

South Carolina
STUDENT: Jeffrey Paul Schwindaman
INSTITUTION: College of Charleston
FACULTY ADVISOR: Vijay M Vulava
POSTER TITLE: Sorption and Transport of a Common Anti-bacterial Agent, Triclosan, in Soils
DIVISION: Geosciences
FUNDING: College of Charleston Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities department

ABSTRACT: Pharmaceutical and active ingredients in personal care products are some of the most ubiquitous compounds found in surface water across the world. Triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol), used as an antibacterial agent in many hand soaps, toothpastes, textiles, and even toys, is one of the most common of these compounds detected in surface waters. Recent studies have linked this compound to endocrine-disrupting activity in mammals and aquatic life. After it is discharged into surface water as wastewater effluent, little is known about the fate of triclosan in the environment. Because it is relatively nonpolar (log Kow = 4.76) and highly insoluble in water, triclosan tends to accumulate in soils, sediments, and very importantly, in lipid tissues of organisms that come in contact with it. The main goal of this study is to quantify how strongly triclosan is absorbed onto soils and sediments as a function of soil and sediment composition (organic carbon content, clay mineral content, etc). Batch sorption and column experiments were conducted using soils from Southeastern U.S. Strong adsorption of triclosan was found in soils rich in organic matter, whereas triclosan did not adsorb as strongly to soils with high clay mineral content. Additionally, triclosan was retained strongly in glass columns packed with organic rich soils. These results indicate that triclosan has the potential to accumulate in stream and estuarine sediment.

 

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