Category Archives: Science & Technology

Topics such as cyber security, severe weather, space, Earth, oceans, and scientific research.

NSF awards $36.6 million in new food-energy-water system grants

Farmland has a role in meeting increasing food and bioenergy demands in sustainable ways.

The number of humans alive on our planet today is some 7.5 billion. By 2087, projections show, 11 billion people will be living on Earth.

How will we continue to have a sustainable supply of food, energy and water, and protect the ecosystems that provide essential “services” for humans?

To help answer these questions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to award

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Relationship Between Total and Bioaccessible Lead on Children’s Blood Lead Levels in Urban Residential Philadelphia Soils

Relationships between total soil or bioaccessible lead (Pb), measured using an in vitro bioaccessibility assay, and children’s blood lead levels (BLL) were investigated in an urban neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, with a history of soil Pb contamination. Soil samples from 38 homes were analyzed to determine whether accounting for the bioaccessible Pb fraction improves statistical relationships with children’s BLLs. Total soil Pb ranged from 58 to 2,821 mg/kg; the bioaccessible Pb fraction ranged from 47 to 2,567 mg/kg. Children’s BLLs ranged from 0.3 to 9.8 μg/dL. Hierarchical models were used to compare relationships between total or bioaccessible Pb in soil and children’s BLLs. Total soil Pb as the predictor accounted for 25% of the variability in child BLL; bioaccessible soil Pb as the predictor accounted for 28% of BLL variability. A bootstrapping analysis confirmed a significant increase in R2 for the model using bioaccessible soil Pb as the predictor with 99.3% of bootstraps showing a positive increase. Estimated increases of 1.4 μg/dL and 1.6 μg/dL in BLL per 1,000 mg/kg Pb in soil were observed for this study area using total and bioaccessible Pb, respectively. Children’s age did not contribute significantly to the prediction of BLLs.

NSF issues new EPSCoR awards, investing in science and engineering across nation

Naomi Ward, University of Wyoming associate professor of molecular biology, collects soil samples for microbiome analysis at the LaPrele Creek mammoth kill site near Douglas, Wyoming.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded five jurisdictions nearly $20 million each through the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), which builds research and development capacity in states that demonstrate a commitment to research but have thus far lacked the levels of investment seen in other parts of the country.

The new EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) Track-1 awards will bolster science and engineering academic research

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20170403 – Identifying "known unknowns": A comparison between ChemSpider and the US EPA’s CompTox Dashboard (ACS Spring National meeting) 1 of 7

Non-targeted analysis (NTA) workflows in high-resolution mass spectrometry require mechanisms for compound identification. One strategy for tentative identification is the use of online chemical databases such as ChemSpider. Databases like this use molecular formulae and monoisotopic mass-based searching and rank-ordering of results by the associated number of data supplier sources, bringing the most likely candidate “known unknowns” to the top of the list. The U.S. EPA’s iCSS CompTox Dashboard ( is a highly curated and freely available resource containing more than 720,000 chemicals of relevance to environmental health science. In this research, we evaluated the performance of the Dashboard relative to ChemSpider for the identification of “known unknowns” using 162 chemicals representing a number of previously studied datasets from peer-reviewed literature. Molecular formulae and monoisotopic masses were searched using both applications and ordered using their different ranking approaches. A greater percentage of chemicals ranked in the top position when using the Dashboard and offered better overall performance for identifying “known unknowns.” Additional data will be presented evaluating alternative sources for tentative identification of chemicals. For example, the presence of chemicals in consumer products was incorporated into the tentative identification process and evaluated via the Dashboard. Weight-ordering of identification ranking for inclusion into a non-targeted analysis workflow as part of the CompTox Dashboard is being developed. This abstract does not necessarily represent the views or policies of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Comprehensive Thematic T-Matrix Reference Database: A 2015-2017 Update

Abstract: The T-matrix method pioneered by Peter C. Waterman is one of the most versatile and efficient numerically exact computer solvers of the time-harmonic macroscopic Maxwell equations. It is widely used for the computation of electromagnetic scattering by single and composite particles, discrete random media, periodic structures (including metamaterials), and particles in the vicinity of plane or rough interfaces separating media with different refractive indices. This paper is the eighth update …

Model Development for MODIS Thermal Band Electronic Crosstalk

Abstract: MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) has 36 bands. Among them, 16 thermal emissive bands covering a wavelength range from 3.8 to 14.4 m. After 16 years on-orbit operation, the electronic crosstalk of a few Terra MODIS thermal emissive bands developed substantial issues that cause biases in the EV brightness temperature measurements and surface feature contamination. The crosstalk effects on band 27 with center wavelength at 6.7 m and band 29 at 8.5 m increased significantly i…

DART: Recent Advances in Remote Sensing Data Modeling With Atmosphere, Polarization, and Chlorophyll Fluorescence

Abstract: To better understand the life-essential cycles and processes of our planet and to further develop remote sensing (RS) technology, there is an increasing need for models that simulate the radiative budget (RB) and RS acquisitions of urban and natural landscapes using physical approaches and considering the three-dimensional (3-D) architecture of Earth surfaces. Discrete anisotropic radiative transfer (DART) is one of the most comprehensive physically based 3-D models of Earth-atmosphere radiat…

The Statistical Mechanics of Solar Wind Hydroxylation at the Moon, Within Lunar Magnetic Anomalies, and at Phobos

Abstract: We present a new formalism to describe the outgassing of hydrogen initially implanted by the solar wind protons into exposed soils on airless bodies. The formalism applies a statistical mechanics approach similar to that applied recently to molecular adsorption onto activated surfaces. The key element enabling this formalism is the recognition that the interatomic potential between the implanted H and regolith-residing oxides is not of singular value but possess a distribution of trapped ener…

Converging Climate Sensitivities of European Forests Between Observed Radial Tree Growth and Vegetation Models

Abstract: The impacts of climate variability and trends on European forests are unevenly distributed across different bioclimatic zones and species. Extreme climate events are also becoming more frequent and it is unknown how they will affect feed backs of CO2 between forest ecosystems and the atmosphere. An improved understanding of species differences at the regional scale of the response of forest productivity to climate variation and extremes is thus important for forecasting forest dynamics. In th…

Weather from 250 Miles Up: Visualizing Precipitation Satellite Data (and Other Weather Applications) Using CesiumJS

Abstract: Geospatial weather visualization remains predominately a two-dimensional endeavor. Even popular advanced tools like the Nullschool Earth display 2-dimensional fields on a 3-dimensional globe. Yet much of the observational data and model output contains detailed three-dimensional fields. In 2014, NASA and JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) launched the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite. Its two instruments, the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) and GPM Microwave Imager (GMI) ob…

Human Health Risk Assessment: A case study application of principles in dose response assessment

This case study application workshop will build on fundamental concepts and techniques in risk assessment presented and archived at previous TRAC meeting workshops. Practical examples from publicly available, peer reviewed risk assessments will be used as teaching aids. Course modules will be organized according to the key components of the risk assessment process: hazard characterization, dose response modeling (including Benchmark Dose methodology), dosimetric adjustment, point of departure selection, uncertainty analysis and risk value derivation such as reference dose and cancer slope factor. The participants will have a unique opportunity to learn and apply conventional methodologies, detailed considerations and emerging approaches in support of human health risk assessment.

Historical Carbon Dioxide Emissions Caused by Land-Use Changes are Possibly Larger than Assumed

Abstract: The terrestrial biosphere absorbs about 20% of fossil-fuel CO2 emissions. The overall magnitude of this sink is constrained by the difference between emissions, the rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and the ocean sink. However, the land sink is actually composed of two largely counteracting fluxes that are poorly quantified: fluxes from land-use change andCO2 uptake by terrestrial ecosystems. Dynamic global vegetation model simulations suggest that CO2 emissions from land-us…

Assessment of Terra MODIS On-Orbit Polarization Sensitivity Using Pseudoinvariant Desert Sites

Abstract: The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is currently flying on NASA’s Earth Observing System Terra and Aqua satellites, launched in 1999 and 2002, respectively. MODIS reflective solar bands in the visible wavelength range are known to be sensitive to polarized light based on prelaunch polarization sensitivity tests. After about five years of on-orbit operations, it was discovered that the polarization sensitivity at short wavelengths had shown a noticeable increase. In this …

Is biochar-manure co-compost a better solution for soil health improvement and N2O emissions mitigation?

Land application of compost has been a promising remediation strategy for soil health and environmental quality, but substantial emissions of greenhouse gases, especially N2O, need to be controlled during making and using compost. Biochar as a bulking agent for composting has been proposed as a novel approach to solve this issue, due to large surface area and porosity, and thus high ion exchange and adsorption capacity. Here, we compared the impacts of biochar-manure co-compost (BM) and manure compost (M) on soil biological properties and processes in a microcosm experiment. Our results showed that BM and M addition significantly enhanced soil total C and N, inorganic and organic N, microbial biomass C and N, cellulase enzyme activity, abundance of N2O-producing bacteria and fungi, and gas emissions of N2O and CO2. However, compared to the M treatment, BM significantly reduced soil CO2 and N2O emissions by 35% and 27%, respectively, over the experimental period. The 15N-N2O site preference was ~ 17‰ for M and ~ 27‰ for BM, suggesting that BM suppressed N2O from bacterial denitrification and nitrifier denitrification. Soil glucosaminidase activity and nirK gene abundance were lower in BM than M treatments. However, soil peroxidase activity and the abundance of ammonium oxidizing archaea were greater in BM than M treatments. Our data demonstrated that biochar-manure co-compost could substantially reduce soil N2O emissions from manure compost via controls on soil organic C stabilization and the activities of microbial functional groups, especially bacterial denitrifiers.

Long Way From Home

This picture of a crescent-shaped Earth and Moon – the first of its kind ever taken by a spacecraft – was recorded Sept. 18, 1977, by NASA’s Voyager 1 when it was 7.25 million miles (11.66 million kilometers) from Earth. The moon is at the top of the picture and beyond the Earth as viewed by Voyager.

Quantifying the Causes of Differences in Tropospheric OH Within Global Models

Abstract: The hydroxyl radical (OH) is the primary daytime oxidant in the troposphere and provides the main loss mechanism for many pollutants and greenhouse gases, including methane (CH4). Global mean tropospheric OH differs by as much as 80% among various global models, for reasons that are not well understood. We use neural networks (NNs), trained using archived output from eight chemical transport models (CTMs) that participated in the Polar Study using Aircraft, Remote Sensing, Surface Measurement…

Impact of MODIS Sensor Calibration Updates on Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Reflectance and Albedo Trends

Abstract: We evaluate Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) surface reflectance and albedo trends using the newly released Collection 6 (C6) MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) products over the period 2001-2016. We find that the correction of MODIS sensor degradation provided in the new C6 data products reduces the magnitude of the surface reflectance and albedo decline trends obtained from previous MODIS data (i.e., Collection 5, C5). Collection 5 and 6 data product analysis over GrIS is chara…