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Environments, Volume 10, Issue 5 (May 2023) – 21 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): The environmental impacts of perennial warm season grasses compared to current no-till continuous corn systems on marginal land must be characterized to determine their sustainability as bioenergy feedstocks. This information can be used to design bioenergy landscapes in which appropriate bioenergy crops are matched to landscape capabilities, as well as to identify opportunities to merge bioenergy cropping systems. Ramirez et al. (2023) present the near-term (4-year) effects of warm-season grassess and corn on soil organic carbon stocks as, well as the above-ground biomass of warm-season grasses in Eastern, NE. View this paper
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12 pages, 14380 KiB  
Brief Report
Insights into Seawater Biodegradation of Sustainable Mater-Bi/Poly(ε-caprolactone)-Based Biocomposites Filled with Diisocyanate-Modified Cellulose Particles
by Aleksander Hejna, Paulina Kosmela, Olga Mysiukiewicz and Mateusz Barczewski
Environments 2023, 10(5), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050090 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1948
Abstract
Due to rapid economic growth, the use of plastics in almost all areas of human life has significantly increased over recent decades, leading to massive pollution. Therefore, works dealing with sustainable and biodegradable polymer materials are vital now. Herein, sustainable Mater-Bi/poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)-based biocomposites, [...] Read more.
Due to rapid economic growth, the use of plastics in almost all areas of human life has significantly increased over recent decades, leading to massive pollution. Therefore, works dealing with sustainable and biodegradable polymer materials are vital now. Herein, sustainable Mater-Bi/poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL)-based biocomposites, filled with diisocyanate-modified cellulose particles, were prepared and subjected to 12-week seawater degradation. Changes in the chemical structure and surface wettability pointed to the increasing hydrophilicity of materials over time, which was limited by diisocyanate modifications. Only minor changes in the thermal performance of analyzed materials have been observed, pointing to the limited biodegradation of the PCL phase. The most significant effects have been related to the composite yellowing due to the filler diisocyanate modifications and surface erosion increasing its roughness. Obtained results pointing to the low degradation rate bring into question the commonly-regarded biodegradable nature of PCL material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioplastics in the Environment II)
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16 pages, 2543 KiB  
Article
Assessment of Nutrient Removal in Surface Flow Constructed Wetland Treating Secondary Effluent with Low Organic, Nitrogen and Phosphorus Loads
by Ali El Hanandeh and Kambez Akrami
Environments 2023, 10(5), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050089 - 22 May 2023
Viewed by 1844
Abstract
Nutrient loads must be reduced to safe levels to protect sensitive receiving environments. This work presents the results of a 15-month monitoring program of a surface flow-constructed wetland (SFCW) in Queensland, Australia. The SFCW reduced the influent TN concentration by 54% and was [...] Read more.
Nutrient loads must be reduced to safe levels to protect sensitive receiving environments. This work presents the results of a 15-month monitoring program of a surface flow-constructed wetland (SFCW) in Queensland, Australia. The SFCW reduced the influent TN concentration by 54% and was able to retain 80% of the TN load, mainly due to the efficient removal of NOx and ammonium (92–100%). TP removal was negative due to the unaccounted loads from wildlife activity. During occasions of high loads, the wetland reduced TP concentrations by 77%. The hydraulic loading rate (HLR) correlated poorly to the TSS and TVS loads (r < 0.55); however, when adjusted to account for precipitation and evapotranspiration, stronger correlations (r > 0.78) were revealed. Strong correlations were revealed between adjusted HLR and TP (r = 0.87) and TN (r = 0.93). TN removal was highly governed by the inflow of TN concentration. TN removal could be predicted from the inflow concentration using the first-order plug-flow model (R2 = 0.72). The model suggests that the system has an irreducible threshold TN load of 0.115 kg-N per m2 per month. This work shows that SFCW can be effective in managing the nutrient loads even in systems that receive low organic and nutrient loads. Full article
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17 pages, 4565 KiB  
Article
How the Presence of CO2 Absorption Promoters and Composition of the Choline Chloride/Amine/Molecular Solvent Mixtures Influence Its Thermophysical Properties and Ability to Absorb Carbon Dioxide
by Olga V. Kazarina, Anna A. Golovacheva, Zakhar A. Markin, Anton N. Petukhov, Alexander S. Kazarin, Artem A. Atlaskin, Tatyana S. Sazanova, Artyom N. Markov, Alexander A. Kapinos, Alexandra V. Barysheva, Sergey S. Suvorov, Egor S. Dokin, Ilya V. Vorotyntsev and Andrey V. Vorotyntsev
Environments 2023, 10(5), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050088 - 18 May 2023
Viewed by 2450
Abstract
The present research provides data on the density (ρ), viscosity (η) and ability to absorb carbon dioxide of systems containing amine, molecular solvent (MS) and choline chloride (ChCl), with the investigation of the physical properties of both neat amine/MS/ChCl [...] Read more.
The present research provides data on the density (ρ), viscosity (η) and ability to absorb carbon dioxide of systems containing amine, molecular solvent (MS) and choline chloride (ChCl), with the investigation of the physical properties of both neat amine/MS/ChCl mixtures and their samples after complete CO2 saturation. The effect of the mixture composition was studied by varying amine from primary (monoethanolamine, MEA) to secondary (diethanolamine, DEA) and tertiary (triethanolamine, TEA) amine, and the degree of its substitution from a mono- (MEA, DEA and TEA) to a doubly-substituted (ethylenediamine, EDA) compound. The role of an MS was investigated via the exchange of ethylene glycol (EG) with water and dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). In addition, the influence of the CO2 absorption promoters present in the ternary MEA/EG/ChCl mixture at an amount of 5 wt. % was also investigated. We show that an increase in ρ and η in the amine/EG/ChCl mixture affects the properties of neat amines. This suggests that in the studied ternary mixtures, the nature of the interspecies interactions is very similar to those in the previously studied MEA/EG/ChCl system. When EG was exchanged for H2O or DMSO, a decrease in ρ and an increase in η were observed. A comparison of the data with the corresponding properties of the systems composed of each pair of the mixture components indicates that the intensity and/or number of interspecies interactions in the present ternary mixtures were stronger than those in pure H2O, DMSO and MEA. While in the presence of promoters no significant changes in the studied properties were found, for the corresponding CO2-saturated samples, the ρ and η increased proportionally to the amount of absorbed gas. This was also the case for all the systems studied in the present research. The overall CO2 absorption of the EG-based mixtures decreased when going from primary to secondary and tertiary amines; it was 21% higher for the MEA/H2O/ChCl system compared to the mixtures containing EG and DMSO, which, in turn, showed similar absorption capacities. When the promoters were added to the MEA/EG/ChCl mixture, the highest capacity was found for the piperazine-containing system. Full article
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14 pages, 2345 KiB  
Article
Resilience Appraisal of Water Resources System under Climate Change Influence Using a Probabilistic-Nonstationary Approach
by Saddam Q. Waheed, Maryam N. Alobaidy and Neil S. Grigg
Environments 2023, 10(5), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050087 - 14 May 2023
Viewed by 2033
Abstract
The planning and management of water resources are being impacted by climate change, and are in need of comprehensive adaptation strategies to respond to future projections. The goal of this study is to support those strategies with a new decision-making paradigm that employs [...] Read more.
The planning and management of water resources are being impacted by climate change, and are in need of comprehensive adaptation strategies to respond to future projections. The goal of this study is to support those strategies with a new decision-making paradigm that employs a probabilistic-nonstationary hydroclimatic scenario to examine the long-term system resilience for multiple dam objectives. The modified approach to examine resilience was applied, and uses a bottom-up approach with a modified resilience concept to achieve the long-term operation targets. The approach integrates Global Circulation Models (GCMs) with a statistical weather generator (SWG) to produce a range of future scenarios. Then, the system response is evaluated against those scenarios. The study utilizes a pre-developed SWG to synthesize different trajectories by altering three weather variables: the precipitation amount, temperature mean, and wind-speed magnitude. The proposed has four staged phases: (1) identification of the future climate exposure using different GCMs; (2) future water supply estimation for scenarios using hydrological models; (3) future water demand estimation for scenarios of all system stakeholders; and (4) evaluation of system performance resilience for the dam operational purposes. The Diyala River Basin in Iraq was selected as a case study, to apply the suggested paradigm. The analysis of the GCM outputs revealed that the rainfall mean varies between −37% and +31%; temperature mean varies between +0.4 °C and 5.1 °C; and the mean wind speed varies between −22% and 11%. Based on these ranges, the future climate trajectories were simulated. According to the examination of the system’s response to those weather changes, the precipitation is the most effective parameter, followed by the temperature change, and lastly the wind speed. Furthermore, the findings show that the existing system operating rules are reliable in terms of flood protection but vulnerable in terms of drought management. The analysis of system resilience to manage the drought was found to be 0.74 for the future trajectories, while it was 0.91 for flood protection. This indicates that project managers should prioritize the drought and water scarcity management, due to climate change impact and upstream country development. The study also shows that the suggested resilience paradigm is capable of measuring the negative effects of climate change and able to provide long-term adaptation guidance for water resources management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Risk and Climate Change II)
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16 pages, 4351 KiB  
Article
Bioindication of Environmental Conditions Using Solar Park Vegetation
by Dan Uldrijan, Jan Winkler and Magdalena Daria Vaverková
Environments 2023, 10(5), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050086 - 12 May 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2339
Abstract
Solar parks are currently considered a new source of carbon-free energy. At the same time, they encroach on our landscape and create new conditions for flora and fauna. Vegetation responds to changes in living conditions. The aim of this study was to evaluate [...] Read more.
Solar parks are currently considered a new source of carbon-free energy. At the same time, they encroach on our landscape and create new conditions for flora and fauna. Vegetation responds to changes in living conditions. The aim of this study was to evaluate the changes in soil conditions induced by solar parks using vegetation bioindicators. A vegetation assessment was carried out in a solar park located in the cadastral territory of the municipality of Unín (Czech Republic). Among the soil conditions observed, this study focused on soil moisture, pH, nitrogen availability, phosphorus availability, and salinity. A total of 77 taxa of vascular plants were identified. Based on the bioindication of vegetation, it can be concluded that there are changes in the conditions between sites under photovoltaic panels (PV) and between rows of PV panels. Under PV panels, species with extreme values of the monitored soil criteria have a higher representation. These species can tolerate salinity, deficiency, or excess nitrogen and phosphorus. Different conditions under PV panels lead to diversity in species composition. This results in significant fragmentation of solar couplet vegetation. However, extreme conditions may create room for invasive plant species to establish themselves. Thus, it is necessary to monitor changes in vegetation, especially under PV panels, in the following years. The characterization of environmental conditions based on vegetation biomonitoring shows the diversity of solar park conditions. Diverse conditions are also important for landscape fragmentation. Full article
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9 pages, 4004 KiB  
Brief Report
Chemical Release Accident Caused by the Abnormal Reaction of Potassium Permanganate Mixtures during Optical Film Manufacturing: A Brief Case Review
by Jihoon Park, Byung-Hoon Kim, Seung-Ryul Hwang and Choonhwa Park
Environments 2023, 10(5), 85; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050085 - 12 May 2023
Viewed by 2344
Abstract
Small- and large-scale accidents often occur in workplaces handling hazardous chemical substances. These accidents are usually caused by leaks, explosions, fires and complex chemicals; a large proportion of these chemical accidents are caused by leaks. A chemical release accident that injured four people [...] Read more.
Small- and large-scale accidents often occur in workplaces handling hazardous chemical substances. These accidents are usually caused by leaks, explosions, fires and complex chemicals; a large proportion of these chemical accidents are caused by leaks. A chemical release accident that injured four people occurred during an optical film-manufacturing process. This report analyzes the causes of this accident and provides effective measures for accident prevention. This accident was caused by an abnormal reaction during the input of raw materials prior to their heating. Tertiary butyl alcohol (t-BuOH), distilled water (DW), and potassium permanganate (KMnO4) were mainly used in this process. We found that this mixture reacted with unknown impurities. After KMnO4 was added to the mixture of t-BuOH and DW, a large amount of heat was suddenly released from the reactor for one minute. In particular, a small amount of methanol (4%), which could have entered the mixture during the cleaning process, and seal oil containing glycerin (13%) were suspected to be the key materials influencing the rapid reaction. Given the significant findings about this accident, the precautionary technical/administrative measures we provide herein may help prevent such accidents in future. Full article
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14 pages, 1341 KiB  
Article
An Assessment of Streambank Erosion Rates in Iowa
by Keith E. Schilling, Calvin F. Wolter, Jason A. Palmer, William J. Beck, Forrest F. Williams, Peter L. Moore and Thomas M. Isenhart
Environments 2023, 10(5), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050084 - 11 May 2023
Viewed by 2218
Abstract
Streambank erosion is a major contributor to watershed suspended sediments and phosphorus exports in many regions, but in Iowa and other midwestern states, the load contribution from streambanks is not considered by state nutrient reduction strategies. The study’s objectives were to evaluate the [...] Read more.
Streambank erosion is a major contributor to watershed suspended sediments and phosphorus exports in many regions, but in Iowa and other midwestern states, the load contribution from streambanks is not considered by state nutrient reduction strategies. The study’s objectives were to evaluate the annual bank erosion rates measured in Iowa using erosion pins and aerial imagery and assess how recession rates vary across space, time, and stream order. The overall goal was to determine whether there are global similarities to these streambank recession rates that could be generalized and scaled up for regional assessments using data from Iowa-based erosion pin studies and original research on stream migration rates. At the erosion pin sites, the recession rates averaged approximately 11 cm yr−1 in third-order streams and, when combined with stream migration analyses, we observed scaling associated with bank recession rates at longer time scales across a range of stream orders. More bank recession occurs in larger streams and rivers with greater discharge from larger watershed areas and an increase in stream power. Variations in these bank recession rates were observed in Iowa landform regions mainly due to differences in geology and the composition of the streambank sediments. The study’s results provide a temporal and spatial context for evaluating streambank recession in Iowa and the glaciated Midwest. Full article
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14 pages, 711 KiB  
Article
Soil Organic Carbon Stock Assessment for Volunteer Carbon Removal Benefit: Methodological Approach in Chestnut Orchard for Fruit Production
by Mauro De Feudis, Gilmo Vianello and Livia Vittori Antisari
Environments 2023, 10(5), 83; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050083 - 9 May 2023
Viewed by 1866
Abstract
The implementation of a protocol for supporting a reliable soil C market is needed. This paper aims to propose a methodology for evaluating soil organic C (SOC) stock changes for the C credit market. A 15-year-old chestnut orchard (CO) and a chestnut coppice [...] Read more.
The implementation of a protocol for supporting a reliable soil C market is needed. This paper aims to propose a methodology for evaluating soil organic C (SOC) stock changes for the C credit market. A 15-year-old chestnut orchard (CO) and a chestnut coppice (CC) as reference land were selected in the northern part of the Apennine chain (Italy). The CO is the result of the CC conversion carried out in 2005. The soil sampling by pedogenetic horizons till parent material was carried out in 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020 in CO and in 2005 and 2020 in CC. For each sample, the concentration and stock of the total SOC and of the most recalcitrant SOC form were estimated. Unlike the CC, in CO, an increase over time of SOC stocks was observed throughout the entire soil profile indicating the suitability of CO for C credit gaining. Most of the SOC was stored within the deepest soil horizon. The methodology can be considered eligible for the C credit market because, replicable, the CO was intentionally realized by humans after 1990, and the additionality was evaluated. Moreover, soil functionality was considered through the evaluation of SOC forms and of the pedogenetic horizons. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Organic Carbon Assessment)
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26 pages, 1951 KiB  
Review
Biological Hydrogen Methanation with Carbon Dioxide Utilization: Methanation Acting as Mediator in the Hydrogen Economy
by Rubén González, Iván Orlando Cabeza, Miguel Casallas-Ojeda and Xiomar Gómez
Environments 2023, 10(5), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050082 - 8 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3995
Abstract
Hydrogen is one of the main energy carriers playing a prominent role in the future decarbonization of the economy. However, several aspects regarding the transport and storage of this gas are challenging. The intermediary conversion of hydrogen into high-density energy molecules may be [...] Read more.
Hydrogen is one of the main energy carriers playing a prominent role in the future decarbonization of the economy. However, several aspects regarding the transport and storage of this gas are challenging. The intermediary conversion of hydrogen into high-density energy molecules may be a crucial step until technological conditions are ready to attain a significant reduction in fossil fuel use in transport and the industrial sector. The process of transforming hydrogen into methane by anaerobic digestion is reviewed, showing that this technology is a feasible option for facilitating hydrogen storage and transport. The manuscript focuses on the role of anaerobic digestion as a technology driver capable of fast adaptation to current energy needs. The use of thermophilic systems and reactors capable of increasing the contact between the H2-fuel and liquid phase demonstrated outstanding capabilities, attaining higher conversion rates and increasing methane productivity. Pressure is a relevant factor of the process, allowing for better hydrogen solubility and setting the basis for considering feasible underground hydrogen storage concomitant with biological methanation. This feature may allow the integration of sequestered carbon dioxide as a relevant substrate. Full article
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12 pages, 1650 KiB  
Article
Looking for Nano- and Microplastics in Meiofauna Using Advanced Methodologies
by M. Antonio Todaro, Serena Anselmi, Tecla Bentivoglio, Carlo Pretti, Andrea Cavallo and Monia Renzi
Environments 2023, 10(5), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050081 - 6 May 2023
Viewed by 2302
Abstract
Meiofauna (body size within 30–1000 µm) are the community of microscopic invertebrates that live at the bottom of marine and freshwater ecosystems and play a key role in the food webs of these environments. Several studies have addressed the adverse effects of anthropic [...] Read more.
Meiofauna (body size within 30–1000 µm) are the community of microscopic invertebrates that live at the bottom of marine and freshwater ecosystems and play a key role in the food webs of these environments. Several studies have addressed the adverse effects of anthropic stressors on meiofauna; however, data on the presence and impact of plastic debris in wild meiofaunal organisms are scant. Since the amount of microplastic waste in sediments may surge rapidly, ascertaining the ingestion of these xenobiotics by the abundant micrometazoan community is necessary to understand their potential accumulation in aquatic food webs and their hazard to the health of the ecosystem. The absence of documentation in this regard may be due to the difficulty in detecting the small size of the plastic fragments meiofauna may potentially ingest. To overcome this difficulty, we developed an integrated approach based on different microscopic/spectroscopic techniques suitable for detecting plastic particles of sizes down to 200 nm. Full article
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12 pages, 621 KiB  
Article
Near-Term Effects of Perennial Grasses on Soil Carbon and Nitrogen in Eastern Nebraska
by Salvador Ramirez II, Marty R. Schmer, Virginia L. Jin, Robert B. Mitchell and Kent M. Eskridge
Environments 2023, 10(5), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050080 - 6 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2241
Abstract
Incorporating native perennial grasses adjacent to annual row crop systems managed on marginal lands can increase system resiliency by diversifying food and energy production. This study evaluated (1) soil organic C (SOC) and total N stocks (TN) under warm-season grass (WSG) monocultures and [...] Read more.
Incorporating native perennial grasses adjacent to annual row crop systems managed on marginal lands can increase system resiliency by diversifying food and energy production. This study evaluated (1) soil organic C (SOC) and total N stocks (TN) under warm-season grass (WSG) monocultures and a low diversity mixture compared to an adjacent no-till continuous-corn system, and (2) WSG total above-ground biomass (AGB) in response to two levels of N fertilization from 2012 to 2017 in eastern Nebraska, USA. The WSG treatments consisted of (1) switchgrass (SWG), (2) big bluestem (BGB), and (3) low-diversity grass mixture (LDM; big bluestem, Indiangrass, and sideoat grama). Soils were sampled at fixed depth increments (0–120 cm) in the WSG plots and in the adjacent corn experiment in 2012 and 2017. Soil stocks (Mg ha−1) of SOC and TN were calculated on an equivalent soil mass (ESM) basis and compared within the three WSG treatments as well as between experiments (corn compared to the mean of all WSGs). Soil organic C and TN stocks within soil layers and cumulative stocks responded to the main effect of WSG (PWSG < 0.05) but were no different when comparing the WSGs to corn (Pexpt = NS). Both SOC/TN stocks and cumulative stocks were generally greater in the LDM compared to the BGB. Neither SOC nor TN changed over time under either the WSGs or corn. Warm-season grass AGB responded to a three-way interaction of year, N rate, and WSG (p = 0.0007). Decreases in AGB over time were significant across WSGs and N levels except for SWG at 56 kg N ha−1 and LDM at 112 kg N ha−1. Above-ground biomass was generally greater in the LDM after the first harvest year (2013). Results suggest that incorporating WSGs into marginal cropland can maintain SOC and TN stocks while providing a significant source of biomass to be used in energy production or in integrated livestock systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Organic Carbon Assessment)
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13 pages, 2248 KiB  
Review
A Review to Update the Protected Areas in Ecuador and an Analysis of Their Main Impacts and Conservation Strategies
by Carlos Mestanza-Ramón, Joel Monar-Nuñez, Paola Guala-Alulema, Yuri Montenegro-Zambrano, Renato Herrera-Chávez, Celene B. Milanes, Carla Arguello-Guadalupe, Pamela Buñay-Guisñan and Marco Toledo-Villacís
Environments 2023, 10(5), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050079 - 5 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 4670
Abstract
Establishing new protected areas (PAs) is one of the first steps needed to reduce habitat loss and fragmentation, protect ecosystems that are of vital importance to conserve biodiversity, and even protect traditional cultures. The correct management of a PA can be beneficial for [...] Read more.
Establishing new protected areas (PAs) is one of the first steps needed to reduce habitat loss and fragmentation, protect ecosystems that are of vital importance to conserve biodiversity, and even protect traditional cultures. The correct management of a PA can be beneficial for the different forms of life found within it and can provide multiple benefits to humanity and to the continued functioning of productive ecosystems. Protected Areas act as buffers for life while serving as sanctuaries and strongholds for species in the face of climate change. Within these areas, genetic diversity is enabled to evolve in response to the pressures of natural selection. The causes of biodiversity loss include changes in land use due to agriculture and urbanization, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution. As stipulated, the current study aims to update the National System of Protected Areas (SNAP) by applying a review of scientific and gray literature. This review presents updated information; Ecuador currently has 74 protected areas, with state, decentralized autonomous, community, and private subdivisions. The main social and environmental impacts found in the protected areas included in the SNAP are presented in a review of the existing literature. Finally, strategies are proposed to improve the management of the protected areas of the SNAP focused on strengthening the conservation of their different life forms and the responsible use of their ecosystem services through more efficient and productive spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Use Change in the Changing Environment II)
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21 pages, 9008 KiB  
Review
A Review of Control Charts and Exploring Their Utility for Regional Environmental Monitoring Programs
by Tim J. Arciszewski
Environments 2023, 10(5), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050078 - 5 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2731
Abstract
Industrial control charts are used in manufacturing to quickly and robustly indicate the status of production and to prompt any necessary corrective actions. The library of tools available for these tasks has grown over time and many have been used in other disciplines [...] Read more.
Industrial control charts are used in manufacturing to quickly and robustly indicate the status of production and to prompt any necessary corrective actions. The library of tools available for these tasks has grown over time and many have been used in other disciplines with similar objectives, including environmental monitoring. While the utility of control charts in environmental monitoring has been recognized, and the tools have already been used in many individual studies, they may be underutilized in some types of programs. For example, control charts may be especially useful for reporting and evaluating data from regional surveillance monitoring programs, but they are not yet routinely used. The purpose of this study was to promote the use of control charts in regional environmental monitoring by surveying the literature for control charting techniques suitable for the various types of data available from large programs measuring multiple indicators at multiple locations across various physical environments. Example datasets were obtained for Canada’s Oil Sands Region, including water quality, air quality, facility production and performance, and bird communities, and were analyzed using univariate (e.g., x-bar) and multivariate (e.g., Hotelling’s T2) control charts. The control charts indicated multiple instances of unexpected observations and highlighted subtle patterns in all of the example data. While control charts are not uniquely able to identify potentially relevant patterns in data and can be challenging to apply in some monitoring analyses, this work emphasizes the broad utility of the tools for straightforwardly presenting the results from standardized and routine surveillance monitoring. Full article
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18 pages, 735 KiB  
Article
Comparative Analysis of Machine and Deep Learning Models for Soil Properties Prediction from Hyperspectral Visual Band
by Dristi Datta, Manoranjan Paul, Manzur Murshed, Shyh Wei Teng and Leigh Schmidtke
Environments 2023, 10(5), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050077 - 4 May 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3198
Abstract
Estimating various properties of soil, including moisture, carbon, and nitrogen, is crucial for studying their correlation with plant health and food production. However, conventional methods such as oven-drying and chemical analysis are laborious, expensive, and only feasible for a limited land area. With [...] Read more.
Estimating various properties of soil, including moisture, carbon, and nitrogen, is crucial for studying their correlation with plant health and food production. However, conventional methods such as oven-drying and chemical analysis are laborious, expensive, and only feasible for a limited land area. With the advent of remote sensing technologies like multi/hyperspectral imaging, it is now possible to predict soil properties non-invasive and cost-effectively for a large expanse of bare land. Recent research shows the possibility of predicting those soil contents from a wide range of hyperspectral data using good prediction algorithms. However, these kinds of hyperspectral sensors are expensive and not widely available. Therefore, this paper investigates different machine and deep learning techniques to predict soil nutrient properties using only the red (R), green (G), and blue (B) bands data to propose a suitable machine/deep learning model that can be used as a rapid soil test. Another objective of this research is to observe and compare the prediction accuracy in three cases i. hyperspectral band ii. full spectrum of the visual band, and iii. three-channel of RGB band and provide a guideline to the user on which spectrum information they should use to predict those soil properties. The outcome of this research helps to develop a mobile application that is easy to use for a quick soil test. This research also explores learning-based algorithms with significant feature combinations and their performance comparisons in predicting soil properties from visual band data. For this, we also explore the impact of dimensional reduction (i.e., principal component analysis) and transformations (i.e., empirical mode decomposition) of features. The results show that the proposed model can comparably predict the soil contents from the three-channel RGB data. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Organic Carbon Assessment)
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25 pages, 4585 KiB  
Review
A Resilience History of the Columbia River Basin and Salmonid Species: Regimes and Policies
by Gregory M. Hill and Steven A. Kolmes
Environments 2023, 10(5), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050076 - 2 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3503
Abstract
We view the history of the Columbia River Basin through a resilience lens from the point of view of salmonids, as keystone species for the river basin ecosystems and social systems. We rely on the concept of multiple stable states as depicted in [...] Read more.
We view the history of the Columbia River Basin through a resilience lens from the point of view of salmonids, as keystone species for the river basin ecosystems and social systems. We rely on the concept of multiple stable states as depicted in a stability landscape, as a scientific theory, but equally as a metaphor and a mental model. Using evidence-based plausibility arguments concerning the existence, creation, and potential critical transitions between regimes, we describe change over centuries. We argue that a critical transition occurred taking the state of the system from its historic regime into a novel regime stabilized by new social feedbacks and institutional configurations. By using a state space defined by four variables used in policy deliberations for salmon recovery we tie our results to historical and contemporary management issues. Knowledge of (a) which regime is currently occupied and (b) which critical transitions between regimes are possible are both crucial to effective policy formation. We draw distinctions between positions held by federal agencies, tribal agencies, and civil society organizations as to the current state of affairs and policy recommendations, raising questions about the appropriate use of decision support systems in the public process for decision making. Full article
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16 pages, 1568 KiB  
Review
Wetland Water-Level Prediction in the Context of Machine-Learning Techniques: Where Do We Stand?
by Tharaka Jayathilake, Miyuru B. Gunathilake, Eranga M. Wimalasiri and Upaka Rathnayake
Environments 2023, 10(5), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050075 - 30 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2504
Abstract
Wetlands are simply areas that are fully or partially saturated with water. Not much attention has been given to wetlands in the past, due to the unawareness of their value to the general public. However, wetlands have numerous hydrological, ecological, and social values. [...] Read more.
Wetlands are simply areas that are fully or partially saturated with water. Not much attention has been given to wetlands in the past, due to the unawareness of their value to the general public. However, wetlands have numerous hydrological, ecological, and social values. They play an important role in interactions among soil, water, plants, and animals. The rich biodiversity in the vicinity of wetlands makes them invaluable. Therefore, the conservation of wetlands is highly important in today’s world. Many anthropogenic activities damage wetlands. Climate change has adversely impacted wetlands and their biodiversity. The shrinking of wetland areas and reducing wetland water levels can therefore be frequently seen. However, the opposite can be seen during stormy seasons. Since wetlands have permissible water levels, the prediction of wetland water levels is important. Flooding and many other severe environmental damage can happen when these water levels are exceeded. Therefore, the prediction of wetland water level is an important task to identify potential environmental damage. However, the monitoring of water levels in wetlands all over the world has been limited due to many difficulties. A Scopus-based search and a bibliometric analysis showcased the limited research work that has been carried out in the prediction of wetland water level using machine-learning techniques. Therefore, there is a clear need to assess what is available in the literature and then present it in a comprehensive review. Therefore, this review paper focuses on the state of the art of water-level prediction techniques of wetlands using machine-learning techniques. Nonlinear climatic parameters such as precipitation, evaporation, and inflows are some of the main factors deciding water levels; therefore, identifying the relationships between these parameters is complex. Therefore, machine-learning techniques are widely used to present nonlinear relationships and to predict water levels. The state-of-the-art literature summarizes that artificial neural networks (ANNs) are some of the most effective tools in wetland water-level prediction. This review can be effectively used in any future research work on wetland water-level prediction. Full article
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17 pages, 3792 KiB  
Article
Use of By-Products from Gasification and Carbonization from Polymeric Residues and Biomass for Application in Liquid Phase Adsorption
by Ana Carolina Assis, Roberta Panizio, Luis Calado, Paulo Brito and Paulo Mourão
Environments 2023, 10(5), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050074 - 27 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2088
Abstract
The search for strategies that contribute to circular economy, based on the valorization of by-products of the most diverse industries and processes, is one of the main environmental objectives at present. This study aims to evaluate the possibility of valorizing by-products from the [...] Read more.
The search for strategies that contribute to circular economy, based on the valorization of by-products of the most diverse industries and processes, is one of the main environmental objectives at present. This study aims to evaluate the possibility of valorizing by-products from the gasification and carbonization of polymeric residues and biomass of natural origin through their application in adsorption processes. The selected residues and carbon by-products resulting from thermochemical conversion by the gasification and carbonization processes, after their physical and chemical characterization, presented improved structural and chemical properties which allow their application in adsorption processes. The characterization of the materials and samples prepared in this work involved a variety of analytical techniques, such as thermogravimetric analysis, polarized attenuated Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence, ultimate analysis, and nitrogen adsorption at 77 K. It was possible to observe that the material has between 40% and 50% volatile matter, and when carbonized, these values decrease to the range of 5% and 10%. The BET surface area analysis of these chars shows values between 100 and 400 m2g−1. For the chemically activated samples and for the phenol molecule, the samples with the best results are those that were prepared using olive prunings as a precursor. For the physically activated samples and also for phenol adsorption, the samples that showed the most potential were the ones prepared via air activation. Regarding the gasified samples, the best results were achieved with the samples without the incorporation of waste-derived fuel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparation and Application of Biochar)
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30 pages, 2297 KiB  
Article
Environmental Impacts and Benefits of Tofu Production from Organic and Conventional Soybean Cropping: Improvement Potential from Renewable Energy Use and Circular Economy Patterns
by Martina Colimoro, Maddalena Ripa, Remo Santagata and Sergio Ulgiati
Environments 2023, 10(5), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050073 - 27 Apr 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 6331
Abstract
This study aimed to quantify and evaluate the main environmental impacts generated in each phase of tofu production as well as its main co-products (soy milk, food integrators, etc.) and by-products (straw, hulls, etc.) from organic and conventional soybean cropping and to compare [...] Read more.
This study aimed to quantify and evaluate the main environmental impacts generated in each phase of tofu production as well as its main co-products (soy milk, food integrators, etc.) and by-products (straw, hulls, etc.) from organic and conventional soybean cropping and to compare them with the impacts of conventional protein sources (e.g., livestock meat and snails). The starting case study was the tofu production company “Tigusto SA” located in Cugnasco-Locarno (Switzerland). The analysis was performed by means of the life cycle assessment (LCA) method, applying a systematic cradle-to-gate approach, from cultivation and extraction of raw materials to the final products. The aim of the analysis was to identify the phases that cause the main environmental burdens and to propose alternative solutions to minimize the impacts. Results show the importance of applying circularity-based scenarios, such as reuse/recycling of residues and the use of renewable energy, which could increase the sustainability of the investigated system, providing environmental and economic benefits. Full article
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16 pages, 744 KiB  
Review
Climate-Neutral Agriculture?
by Lucas Reijnders
Environments 2023, 10(5), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050072 - 26 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3365
Abstract
Regarding the achievement of worldwide agricultural climate neutrality, the focus is on a worldwide net-zero emission of cradle-to-farmgate greenhouse gases (GHGs), while, when appropriate, including the biogeophysical impacts of practices on the longwave radiation balance. Increasing soil carbon stocks and afforestation have been [...] Read more.
Regarding the achievement of worldwide agricultural climate neutrality, the focus is on a worldwide net-zero emission of cradle-to-farmgate greenhouse gases (GHGs), while, when appropriate, including the biogeophysical impacts of practices on the longwave radiation balance. Increasing soil carbon stocks and afforestation have been suggested as practices that could be currently (roughly) sufficient to achieve agricultural climate neutrality. It appears that in both cases the quantitative contributions to climate neutrality that can actually be delivered are very uncertain. There is also much uncertainty about the quantitative climate benefits with regard to forest conservation, changing feed composition to reduce enteric methane emission by ruminants, agroforestry and the use of nitrification and urease inhibitors to decrease the emission of N2O. There is a case for much future work aimed at reducing the present uncertainties. The replacing of animal husbandry-based protein production by plant-based protein production that can reduce agricultural GHG emissions by about 50%, is technically feasible but at variance with trends in worldwide food consumption. There is a case for a major effort to reverse these trends. Phasing out fossil fuel inputs, improving nitrogen-use efficiency, net-zero GHG-emission fertilizer inputs and reducing methane emissions by rice paddies can cut the current worldwide agricultural GHG emissions by about 22%. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Net-Zero Principles and Practices)
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17 pages, 6340 KiB  
Article
The Potential of Waste Phloem Fraction of Quercus cerris Bark in Biochar Production
by Umut Sen, Andrei Longo, Margarida Gonçalves, Isabel Miranda and Helena Pereira
Environments 2023, 10(5), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050071 - 26 Apr 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1976
Abstract
Quercus cerris phloem is a lignocellulosic waste fraction obtained from bark fractionation. Biochars are technologically interesting functional materials that may be produced from lignocellulosic solid materials. This study explores the solid material properties of Quercus cerris phloem, evaluates biochar production from it, and [...] Read more.
Quercus cerris phloem is a lignocellulosic waste fraction obtained from bark fractionation. Biochars are technologically interesting functional materials that may be produced from lignocellulosic solid materials. This study explores the solid material properties of Quercus cerris phloem, evaluates biochar production from it, and explores its application as an adsorbent. In the first part of the study, thermogravimetric analysis, SEM microscopy observations, FT-IR spectroscopy, and ICP-AES analyses were performed on raw Quercus cerris phloem. In the second part of the study, biochars and activated carbons were produced and their structure, surface functional groups, methylene blue adsorption properties, and specific surface areas were determined. The results showed that Quercus cerris phloem is a lignocellulosic solid material that decomposes in a wide temperature range between 265 and 765 °C. The activation energy of phloem pyrolysis ranged between 82 and 172 kJ mol−1 in pyrolysis. The mineral composition is mainly calcium (88%) and potassium (4%). The biochar yield of Quercus cerris phloem ranged between 28% and 42% at different moderate temperature–time combinations. Raw phloem, phloem biochars, and phloem-activated carbons show high methylene blue removal efficiencies. Methylene blue adsorption follows pseudo-second-order kinetics. The BET surface areas of Quercus cerris phloem-activated carbons varied between 262.1 m2 g−1 and 317.5 m2 g−1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparation and Application of Biochar)
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20 pages, 1002 KiB  
Review
Fate and Impacts of Microplastics in the Environment: Hydrosphere, Pedosphere, and Atmosphere
by Fatima Haque and Chihhao Fan
Environments 2023, 10(5), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments10050070 - 24 Apr 2023
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 12375
Abstract
Plastic litter is on the rise where plastic waste ends up in undesignated areas such as the coastal shorelines, where the plastic is exposed to environmental conditions. As a result, the degradation and decomposition of plastics occur, leading to the formation of smaller [...] Read more.
Plastic litter is on the rise where plastic waste ends up in undesignated areas such as the coastal shorelines, where the plastic is exposed to environmental conditions. As a result, the degradation and decomposition of plastics occur, leading to the formation of smaller fragments of plastics, termed microplastics. Microplastics have recently been considered as an emerging class of contaminants due to their ecotoxicological impact on the aquatic environment as well as soil matrix. Microplastics are of a size less than 5 mm and are produced from either a primary source (such as plastic pellets, and beads in makeup products) or a secondary source (such as the wear and tear of normal-use plastics and washing of clothes and textiles). Microplastic pollution is spread across the hydrosphere, pedosphere, and atmosphere, and these environmental zones are being studied for microplastic accumulation individually. However, there exists a source–sink dynamic between these environmental compartments. This study reviews the available literature on microplastic research and discusses the current state of research on the fate and transport of microplastic in the hydrosphere, pedosphere, and atmosphere, explores the ecotoxicological impact of microplastics on aquatic and soil communities, and provides prospective future research directions and plastic waste management strategies to control microplastic pollution. While the fate of microplastics in the hydrosphere is well-documented and researched, studies on understanding the transport mechanism of microplastics in the pedosphere and atmosphere remain poorly understood. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plastic Contamination: Challenges and Solutions Volume II)
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