Monthly Archives: January 2017

Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week

Original release date: January 31, 2017

This is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week, and many federal agencies are offering consumers information and resources on the topic. US-CERT encourages taxpayers, business owners, and tax preparers to educate themselves on tax identity theft by reading Internal Revenue Service (IRS) publication Taxes.Security.Together. and the US-CERT Tip on Identity Theft. Users can also check out these events on avoiding tax identity theft hosted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), IRS, Department of Veterans Affairs, and other agencies.


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VMware Releases Security Updates

Original release date: January 31, 2017

VMware has released security updates to address vulnerabilities in Airwatch Agent, Airwatch Console, and AirWatch Inbox software. Exploitation of one of these vulnerabilities could allow a remote attacker to take control of an affected system.

Users and administrators are encouraged to review VMware Security Advisory VMSA-2017-0001 and apply the necessary updates.


This product is provided subject to this Notification and this Privacy & Use policy.

NASA Day of Remembrance

Martha Chaffee, widow of Roger Chaffee, Sheryl Chaffee, daughter, and Roger Purvenas, son of Sheryl Chaffee, left, along with acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, right, place wreaths at the graves of Apollo 1 crewmembers Virgil “Gus” Grissom and Roger Chaffee as part of NASA’s Day of Remembrance, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017.

B-Glucan exacerbates allergic asthma independent of fungal sensitization and promotes steroid-resistant TH2/TH17 responses

BackgroundAllergic sensitization to fungi has been associated with asthma severity. As a result, it has been largely assumed that the contribution of fungi to allergic disease is mediated through their potent antigenicity.ObjectiveWe sought to determine the mechanism by which fungi affect asthma development and severity.MethodsWe integrated epidemiologic and experimental asthma models to explore the effect of fungal exposure on asthma development and severity.ResultsWe report that fungal exposure enhances allergen-driven TH2 responses, promoting severe allergic asthma. This effect is independent of fungal sensitization and can be reconstituted with β-glucan and abrogated by neutralization of IL-17A. Furthermore, this severe asthma is resistant to steroids and characterized by mixed TH2 and TH17 responses, including IL-13+IL-17+CD4+ double-producing effector T cells. Steroid resistance is dependent on fungus-induced TH17 responses because steroid sensitivity was restored in IL-17rc−/− mice. Similarly, in children with asthma, fungal exposure was associated with increased serum IL-17A levels and asthma severity.ConclusionOur data demonstrate that fungi are potent immunomodulators and have powerful effects on asthma independent of their potential to act as antigens. Furthermore, our results provide a strong rationale for combination treatment strategies targeting IL-17A for this subgroup of fungus-exposed patients with difficult-to-treat asthma.

Notice of Workshop on Tactical Encryption and Key Management

Date: 
January 31, 2017
Docket Number: 

The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce, will host a two-day workshop on Tactical Encryption and Key Management.   The goal of the workshop is to identify solutions to the problem of how to dynamically key and re-key different groups with varying levels of access and for varying lengths of time using existing infrastructure or over an ad hoc network that is reliable and user friendly. The workshop will be held on February 15-16, 2017, from 8:00 a.m.

Harvested rainwater quality before and after treatment in six full-scale residential systems

Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is an alternative method of providing water for indoor domestic use, but the water quality after treatment and distribution at individual residences is not well documented. In this study, water quality parameters were measured at the cistern and indoor cold-water taps of six residential RWH systems that use various treatment processes. Potential human pathogens (Mycobacterium avium, Mycobacterium intracellulare, Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus niger) were found frequently in cisterns and in treated rainwater delivered at the tap; Legionella pneumophila was not detected as frequently, but it persisted in a system after its first detection. The observed decreases in bacterial concentrations from the cistern to the tap after filtration/ ultraviolet (UV) treatment and distribution were less than expected; this suggests deficiencies in the effectiveness of the filtration/UV processes employed and/or degradation in water quality in the distribution system due to the absence of a disinfectant residual.

Populations of some molds in water-damaged homes may differ if the home was constructed with gypsum drywall compared to plaster

Starting in the 1940s, gypsum drywall began replacing plaster and lathe in the U.S. home construction industry. Our goal was to evaluate whether some mold populations differ in water- damaged homes primarily constructed with gypsum drywall compared to plaster. The dust samples from the 2006 Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) American Health Homes Survey (AHHS) were the subject of this analysis. The concentrations of the 36 Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) molds were compared in homes of different ages. The homes (n = 301) were built between 1878 and 2005. Homes with ERMI values > 5 (n = 126) were defined as water-damaged. Homes with ERMI values > 5 were divided in the years 1976 to 1977 into two groups, i.e., older (n = 61) and newer (n = 65). Newer water-damaged homes had significantly (p = 0.002) higher mean ERMI values than older water-damaged homes, 11.18 and 8.86, respectively. The Group 1 molds Aspergillus flavus, Ammophilus fumigatus, Aspergillus ochraceus, Cladosporium sphaerospermum and Trichoderma viride were found in significantly higher concentrations in newer compared to older high-ERMI homes. Some mold populations in water-damaged homes may have changed after the introduction of gypsum drywall.

Planning for community resilience to future United States domestic water demand

Costs of repairing and expanding aging infrastructure and competing demands for water from other sectors such as industry and agriculture are stretching water managers’ abilities to meet essential domestic drinking water needs for future generations. Using Bayesian statistical modeling on past and present water use, we project domestic water demand in the context of four climate scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as part of the their Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). We compare 2010 demand to projections of domestic water demand for the years 2030, 2060 and 2090 for the four SRES scenarios. Results indicate that the number of counties exceeding fifty percent or greater demand over 2010 levels increases through 2090 for two of the scenarios and plateaus around 2050 for the other two. Counties experiencing the largest increases in water demand are concentrated in the states of California, Texas, and isolated portions of the Mid-West, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic. Closer examination of the spatial distribution of high demand counties reveals that they are typically found near or adjacent to metropolitan centers, potentially placing greater stress on already taxed systems. Identifying these counties allows for targeted adaptive management and policies, economic incentives, and legislation to be focused towards locations that are potentially the most vulnerable.

Representation of Reptile Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services within the Protected Areas of the Conterminous United States

A focus for resource management, conservation planning, and environmental decision analysis has been mapping and quantifying biodiversity and ecosystem services. The challange has been to integrate ecology with economics to better understand the effects of human policies and actions and their subsequent impacts on human well-being and ecosystem function. Biodiversity is valued by humans in varied ways, and thus is an important input to include in assessing the benefits of ecosystems to humans. Some biodiversity metrics more clearly reflect ecosystem services (e.g., game species, Federally theatened and endangered species), whereas others may indicate indirect and difficult to quantify relationships to services (e.g., taxa richness and cultural value). Recently, species distribution models have been developed at broad spatial scales and can be used to map biodiversity metrics. The importance of reptiles to biodiversity and ecosystems services is not often described and only recently have there been attempts to identify these ecosystem services. Provisioning services provided by reptiles include food (e.g. turtles, alligators) and medicine (e.g. anti-venom). Regulating services include disease transmission and pest outbreaks (e.g. rodent populations). Cultural services include awareness of venomous species and regulatory frameworks (Federally and state listed species). Supporting services include food web dynamics, altering physical habitats, and cycling nutrients. In the present study, we identify and map reptile biodiversity and ecosystem services metrics. We used recently completed species distribution models for reptiles in the conterminous United States from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Gap Analysis Program. We focus on species richness metrics including all reptile species richness (322 reptiles), taxa groupings of lizards (116), snakes (146) and turtles (58), NatureServe conservation status (G1, G2, G3) species (61), IUCN listed reptiles (39), threatened and endangered species (22), Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation listed reptiles (63), venomous reptiles (21) and rare species (80). These metrics were then analyzed based on the Protected Areas Database of the United States (PAD-US) to provide insight into current conservation lands and reptile biodiversity and ecosystem services. We present results of these various biodiversity and ecosystem services metrics focusing on current distributions and overlap with conservation lands. The project has been conducted at multiple scales, starting at watersheds, then multi-state regional areas, and currently at the national-level EnviroAtlas. As an example of the plasticity of this approach, we provide results for one taxa (reptiles) for the conterminous United States. We provide a method to map and quantify ecosystems services at broad scales using documented agency or organization lists and USGS Gap Analysis Program datasets to look at various aspects of reptile biodiversi

A National System to Map and Quantify Terrestrial Vertebrate Biodiversity

Biodiversity is crucial for the functioning of ecosystems and the products and services from which we transform natural assets of the Earth for human survival, security, and well-being. The ability to assess, report, map, and forecast the life support functions of ecosystems is absolutely critical to our capacity to make informed decisions to maintain the sustainable nature of our environment now and into the future. Because of the variability among living organisms and levels of organization (e.g. genetic, species, ecosystem), biodiversity has always been difficult to measure precisely, especially within a systematic manner and over multiple scales.Nevertheless, the need to measure and assess occurrence of biodiversity, changes over time and space, agents of change, and consequences for the provision of ecosystem services for human livelihood remains important. In answer to this challenge, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has created a partnership with other Federal agencies, academic institutions, and Non-Governmental Organizations to develop the EnviroAtlas (https://www.epa.gov/enviroatlas), an online national Decision Support Tool that allows users to view and analyze the geographical description of the supply and demand for ecosystem services, as well as the drivers of change. As part of the EnviroAtlas, an approach has been developed that uses deductive habitat models for all the terrestrial vertebrates of the conterminous United States and clusters them into biodiversity metrics that relate to ecosystem service-relevant categories that reflect elements of A) Biodiversity Conservation; B) Food, Fiber, and Materials; and C) Recreation, Culture, and Aesthetics. Several metrics, such as species and taxon richness, have been developed and integrated with other measures of biodiversity down to the 30m scale of resolution. Collectively, these have been aggregated up to the national level of interest and thus provide a consistent scalable process from which to make geographic comparisons, provide thematic assessments, and to monitor status and trends in biodiversity. Within the EnviroAtlas platform, the smallest reporting unit is the subwatershed, a 12-digit Hydrological Unit Code (which on average is 104 km2 in area). Once complete, the national biodiversity component for the conterminous U.S. will operate across approximately 85,000 12-digit HUCs and will include 1787 terrestrial vertebrate species (686 bird spp., 475 mammal spp., 322 reptile spp., and 304 amphibian spp.). The project has progressed incrementally at multiple scales in a phased approach, starting with place-based studies, then multi-state regional areas, culminating in the national-level EnviroAtlas. As an example of this incremental approach, we provide selected results for the contiguous United States along with sub-national areas of interest to demonstrate the multi-scale utility of the system. In these examples, geographic patterns differed among metrics and across t

Assessing Hydrologic Impacts of Future Land Cover Change Scenarios in the South Platte River Basin (CO, WY, & NE)

Long‐term land‐use and land cover change and their associated impacts pose critical challenges to sustaining vital hydrological ecosystem services for future generations. In this study, a methodology was developed on the San Pedro River Basin to characterize hydrologic impacts from future urban growth through time. This methodology was then expanded and utilized to characterize the changing hydrology on the South Platte River Basin. Future urban growth is represented by housingdensity maps generated in decadal intervals from 2010 to 2100, produced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Integrated Climate and Land‐Use Scenarios (ICLUS) project. ICLUS developed future housing density maps by adapting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) social, economic, and demographic storylines to the conterminous United States. To characterize hydrologic impacts from future growth, the housing density maps were reclassified to National Land Cover Database (NLCD) 2006 land cover classes and used to parameterize the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) using the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) tool. The objectives of this project were to 1) develop and describe a methodology for adapting the ICLUS data for use in AGWA as anapproach to evaluate basin‐wide impacts of development on water‐quantity and ‐quality, 2) present initial results from the application of the methodology to evaluate water scenario analyses related to a baseline condition and forecasted changes, 3) expand the methodology and apply it to the South Platte River Basin in order to discuss the implications of the analysis.

EnviroAtlas: Providing Nationwide Geospatial Ecosystem Goods and Services Indicators and Indices to Inform Decision-Making, Research, and Education

EnviroAtlas is a multi-organization effort led by the US Environmental Protection Agency to develop, host and display a large suite of nation-wide geospatial indicators and indices of ecosystem services. This open access tool allows users to view, analyze, and download a wealth of geospatial data and other resources related to ecosystem goods and services. More than 160 national indicators of ecosystem service supply, demand, and drivers of change provide a framework to inform decisions and policies at multiple spatial scales, educate a range of audiences, and supply data for research. A higher resolution component is also available, providing over 100 data layers for finer-scale analyses for selected communities across the US. The ecosystem goods and services data are organized into seven general ecosystem benefit categories: clean and plentiful water; natural hazard mitigation; food, fuel, and materials; climate stabilization; clean air; biodiversity conservation; and recreation, culture, and aesthetics. Each indicator is described in terms of how it is important to human health or well-being. EnviroAtlas includes data describing existing ecosystem markets for water quality and quantity, biodiversity, wetland mitigation, and carbon credits. This presentation will briefly describe the EnviroAtlas data and tools and how they are being developed and used in ongoing research studies and in decision-making contexts.

NCSES publishes latest Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering report

The WMPD report is part of NSF's congressionally mandated mission to broaden participation in science and engineering.

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) today announced the release of the 2017 Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering (WMPD) report, the federal government’s most comprehensive look at the participation of these three demographic groups in science and engineering education and employment.

The report shows the degree to which women, people with disabilities and

More at https://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=190946&WT.mc_id=USNSF_51&WT.mc_ev=click


This is an NSF News item.

Proposal and Development of a High Voltage Variable Frequency Alternating Current Power System for Hybrid Electric Aircraft

Abstract: The development of ultra-efficient commercial vehicles and the transition to low-carbon emission propulsion are seen as thrust paths within NASA Aeronautics. A critical enabler to these paths comes in the form of hybrid-electric propulsion systems. For megawatt-class systems, the best power system topology for these hybrid-electric propulsion systems is debatable. Current proposals within NASA and the Aero community suggest using a combination of AC and DC for power transmission. This paper p…

Similar Estimates of Temperature Impacts on Global Wheat Yield by Three Independent Methods

Abstract: The potential impact of global temperature change on global crop yield has recently been assessed with different methods. Here we show that grid-based and point-based simulations and statistical regressions (from historic records), without deliberate adaptation or CO2 fertilization effects, produce similar estimates of temperature impact on wheat yields at global and national scales. With a 1 C global temperature increase, global wheat yield is projected to decline between 4.1% and 6.4%. Proj…

Integrated Turbine Tip Clearance and Gas Turbine Engine Simulation

Abstract: Gas turbine compressor and turbine blade tip clearance (i.e., the radial distance between the blade tip of an axial compressor or turbine and the containment structure) is a major contributing factor to gas path sealing, and can significantly affect engine efficiency and operational temperature. This paper details the creation of a generic but realistic high pressure turbine tip clearance model that may be used to facilitate active tip clearance control system research. This model uses a firs…

Approximation of Engine Casing Temperature Constraints for Casing Mounted Electronics

Abstract: The performance of propulsion engine systems is sensitive to weight and volume considerations. This can severely constrain the configuration and complexity of the control system hardware. Distributed Engine Control technology is a response to these concerns by providing more flexibility in designing the control system, and by extension, more functionality leading to higher performing engine systems. Consequently, there can be a weight benefit to mounting modular electronic hardware on the eng…

UAS Pilot Evaluations of Suggestive Guidance on Detect-and-Avoid Displays

Abstract: Minimum display requirements for Detect-and-Avoid (DAA) systems are being developed in order to support the expansion of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). The present study examines UAS pilots’ subjective assessments of four DAA display configurations with varying forms of maneuver guidance. For each configuration, pilots rated the intuitiveness of the display and how well it supported their ability to perform the DAA task. Responses revealed a clear pre…

Constraining the Physics of AM Canum Venaticorum Systems with the Accretion Disk Instability Model

Abstract: Recent work by Levitan et al. has expanded the long-term photometric database for AM CVn stars. In particular, their outburst properties are well correlated with orbital period and allow constraints to be placed on the secular mass transfer rate between secondary and primary if one adopts the disk instability model for the outbursts. We use the observed range of outbursting behavior for AM CVn systems as a function of orbital period to place a constraint on mass transfer rate versus orbital p…