Geosciences2016, 6(3), 35; doi:10.3390/geosciences6030035 (registering DOI) - published 29 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Wildfire is a global phenomenon that plays a vital role in regulating and maintaining many natural and human-influenced ecosystems but that also poses considerable risks to human populations and infrastructure. Fire managers are charged with balancing the short-term protection of human assets sensitive to fire exposure against the potential long-term benefits that wildfires can provide to natural systems and wildlife populations. The compressed decision timeframes imposed on fire managers during an incident are often insufficient to fully assess a range of fire management options and their respective implications for public and fire responder safety, attainment of land and resource objectives, and future trajectories of hazard and risk. This paper reviews the role of GIS-based assessment and planning to support operational wildfire management decisions, with a focus on recent and emerging research that pre-identifies anthropogenic and biophysical landscape features that can be leveraged to increase the safety and effectiveness of wildfire management operations. We use a case study from the United States to illustrate the development and application of tools that draw from research generated by the global fire management community.
Geosciences2016, 6(3), 36; doi:10.3390/geosciences6030036 (registering DOI) - published 29 July 2016 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The western part of the island of Milos, Greece has undergone widespread, intense alteration associated with a range of mineralization, including seafloor Mn-Fe-Ba, sub seafloor Pb-Zn-Ag, and epithermal Au-Ag. The surrounding country rocks are a mixture of submarine and subaerial calc-alkaline volcanic rocks ranging from basaltic andesite to rhyolite in composition, but are predominantly andesites and dacites. The current surface spatial distribution of the alteration mineralogy is a function not only of the original hydrothermal, but also subsequent tectonic and erosional processes. The high relief and the excellent rock exposure provide ideal conditions to evaluate the potential of Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) satellite remote sensing data to identify and differentiate the different styles of alteration mineralisation. Laboratory spectral reflectance and calculated emittance measurements of field samples, supported by XRD analysis and field mapping, were used to support the analysis. Band ratio and spectral matching techniques were applied to the shortwave-infrared (SWIR) reflectance and thermal-infrared (TIR) emissivity imagery separately and were then integrated with topographic data. The band ratio and spectral matching approaches produced similar results in both the SWIR and TIR imagery. In the SWIR imagery, the advanced argillic, argillic and hydrous silica alteration zones were clearly identifiable, while in the TIR imagery, the silicic and advanced argillic alteration zones, along with the country rock, were differentiable. The integrated mineralogical–topographic datasets provided an enhanced understanding of the spatial and altitude distribution of the alteration zones when combined with conceptual models of their genesis, which provides a methodology for the differentiation of the multiple styles of alteration.
Abstract: Stormwater runoff in the USA is a main driver of non-point source pollution and other major problems for urbanizing areas, and runoff effects will be exacerbated by the increased frequency and intensity of heavier storm events that are projected as climate changes. The purpose of this paper is to consider how increased rainfall from storms could influence direct stormwater runoff in urbanizing watersheds. As part of a recent research project in coastal Beaufort County, South Carolina, USA, we applied the Stormwater Runoff Modeling System (SWARM) to model various combinations of development levels and climate change scenarios. SWARM single-event output showed dramatic increases in runoff volume and rate, in some cases almost doubling under moderate climate change scenario and tripling under severe climate change scenario. In all cases, modeled impacts from climate change exceeded those of development. By quantifying stormwater runoff based on climate change scenarios within the context of development, the findings add to the recognition that they must be considered together when projecting changes in watershed hydrology and that climate change effects potentially exceed those of development.
Abstract: The objective of this study was to use satellite imagery to monitor the water budget of Al Ain region in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Inflows and outflows were estimated and the trend of water storage variation in the study area was examined from 2005 to 2014. Evapotranspiration was estimated using the simplified Penman-Monteith equation. Landsat images were used to determine the extent of agricultural and green areas. Time series of gravity recovery and climate experiment (GRACE) observations over the study area were used to assess the inferred water storage variation from satellite data. The change of storage inferred from the Water Budget Equation showed a decreasing trend at an average rate of 2.57 Mm3 annually. Moreover, GRACE readings showed a decreasing trend at a rate of 0.35 cm of water depth annually. Mann-Kendal, a non-parametric trend test, proved the presence of significant negative trends in both time series at a 5% significance level. A two-month lag resulted in a better agreement (R2 = 0.55) between the change in water storage and GRACE anomalies within the study area. These results suggest that water storage in the study area is being depleted significantly. Moreover, the potential of remote sensing in water resource management, especially in remote and arid areas, was demonstrated.
Abstract: A three-dimensional (3D) geologic model was developed for Quaternary deposits in southern Walworth County, WI using Petrel, a software package primarily designed for use in the energy industry. The purpose of this research was to better delineate and characterize the shallow glacial deposits, which include multiple shallow sand and gravel aquifers. The 3D model of Walworth County was constructed using datasets such as the U.S. Geological Survey 30 m digital elevation model (DEM) of land surface, published maps of the regional surficial geology and bedrock topography, and a database of water-well records. Using 3D visualization and interpretation tools, more than 1400 lithostratigraphic picks were efficiently interpreted amongst 725 well records. The final 3D geologic model consisted of six Quaternary lithostratigraphic units and a bedrock horizon as the model base. The Quaternary units include in stratigraphic order from youngest to oldest: the New Berlin Member of the Holy Hill Formation, the Tiskilwa Member of the Zenda Formation, a Sub-Tiskilwa Sand/Gravel unit, the Walworth Formation, a Sub-Walworth Sand/Gravel unit, and a Pre-Illinoisan unit. Compared to previous studies, the results of this study indicate a more detailed distribution, thickness, and interconnectivity between shallow sand and gravel aquifers and their connectivity to shallow bedrock aquifers. This study can also help understand uncertainty within previous local groundwater-flow modeling studies and improve future studies.
Abstract: Leaders of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have publicly advocated action to mitigate the adverse effects of human-forced climate change. Particularly prominent prior to, during, and after the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change were Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Pope Francis, and Patriarch Bartholomew. Also prominent was a group of Islamic clerics, leaders of organizations, and scholars who collaborated in issuing a declaration on climate change three months prior to COP 21. Informed by the Earth sciences, these leaders shared their faith-based rationales for acting locally to internationally as indicated in the documents explored in this article. Examples of organizations motivated by their leaders’ faith perspectives demonstrate their readiness to act informed by scientists. To work effectively, these religious leaders and activist groups require well-substantiated conclusions from data collected to counter unsubstantiated claims by climate skeptics. Earth scientists will find among the religious leaders and groups allies in the quest for a flourishing planet.