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Environments, Volume 9, Issue 3 (March 2022) – 10 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This perspective examines future prospects for ultra-dense, "thick-skinned" nano-bubbles that have been generated by a disruptive new and for low-energy electrostriction inventions and how they can revolutionise environmental and ecosystem end-applications, including water treatment and water-body management, agri- and aqua-culture as well as landscape management applications and how these technologies are able to embrace environmentally friendly fuels. View this paper
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11 pages, 4548 KiB  
Article
Monitoring Phycocyanin with Landsat 8/Operational Land Imager Orange Contra-Band
by Igor Ogashawara, Lin Li, Chase Howard and Gregory K. Druschel
Environments 2022, 9(3), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030040 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4095
Abstract
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard the Landsat 8 satellite has a panchromatic band (503–676 nm) that has been used to compute a virtual spectral band known as “orange contra-band” (590–635 nm). The major application of the orange contra-band is the monitoring of [...] Read more.
The Operational Land Imager (OLI) onboard the Landsat 8 satellite has a panchromatic band (503–676 nm) that has been used to compute a virtual spectral band known as “orange contra-band” (590–635 nm). The major application of the orange contra-band is the monitoring of cyanobacteria which is usually quantified by the measurement of the concentration of phycocyanin (PC) which has an absorption peak around 620 nm. In this study, we evaluated the use of the orange contra-band approach for estimating PC concentration from in situ proximal hyperspectral data from Eagle Creek Reservoir (ECR), in Indiana, USA. We first validated the empirical relationship for the computation of the orange contra-band by using the panchromatic, red, and green spectral bands from ECR. PC concentration retrieval using the orange contra-band were not successful when using the entire dataset (R2 < 0.1) or when using only PC concentrations higher than 50 mg/m3 (R2 < 0.24). Better results were achieved when using samples in which PC was 1.5 times higher than the chlorophyll-a concentration (R2 = 0.84). These results highlighted the need for the development of remote sensing algorithms for the accurate estimation of PC concentration from non-PC dominant waters which could be use to track and/or predict cyanobacteria blooms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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17 pages, 3549 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Use of Alternative Normalization Approaches on SARS-CoV-2 Concentrations in Wastewater: Experiences from Two Catchments in Northern Sweden
by Frida Isaksson, Lian Lundy, Annelie Hedström, Anna J. Székely and Nahla Mohamed
Environments 2022, 9(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030039 - 19 Mar 2022
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 6384
Abstract
The detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA fragments in feces has paved the way for wastewater-based epidemiology to contribute to COVID-19 mitigation measures, with its use in a public health context still under development. As a way to facilitate data comparison, this paper explores the [...] Read more.
The detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA fragments in feces has paved the way for wastewater-based epidemiology to contribute to COVID-19 mitigation measures, with its use in a public health context still under development. As a way to facilitate data comparison, this paper explores the impact of using alternative normalization approaches (wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) flow, population size estimates (derived using total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP) and census data) and pepper mild mottle virus (PMMoV)) on the relationship between viral wastewater data and clinical case numbers. Influent wastewater samples were collected at two WWTPs in Luleå, northern Sweden, between January and March 2021. TN and TP were determined upon sample collection, with RNA analysis undertaken on samples after one freeze–thaw cycle. The strength of the correlation between normalization approaches and clinical cases differed between WWTPs (r ≤ 0.73 or r ≥ 0.78 at the larger WWTP and r ≤ 0.23 or r ≥ 0.43 at the smaller WWTP), indicating that the use of wastewater as an epidemiological tool is context-dependent. Depending on the normalization approach utilized, time-shifted analyses imply that wastewater data on SARS-CoV-2 RNA pre-dated a rise in clinical cases by 0–2 and 5–8 days, for the lager and smaller WWTPs, respectively. SARS-CoV-2 viral loads normalized to the population or PMMoV better reflect the number of clinical cases when comparing wastewater data between sewer catchments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wastewater-Based Epidemiology for Infectious Disease Surveillance)
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10 pages, 1748 KiB  
Article
Minimizing the Fluoride Load in Water Using the Electrocoagulation Method: An Experimental Approach
by Shatha Y. Al-Samarrai, Haneen A. Kh. Karaghool, Ali Abdulridha, Nadhir Al-Ansari, Jasim M. Salman and Osamah J. Al-Sareji
Environments 2022, 9(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030038 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3625
Abstract
The abundant presence of fluoride (F-) in surface water bodies is an environmental concern because of its effects on human health; medical reports confirmed that fluoride intake above 1.5 mg/L leads to many health complications, including but not limited to weak [...] Read more.
The abundant presence of fluoride (F-) in surface water bodies is an environmental concern because of its effects on human health; medical reports confirmed that fluoride intake above 1.5 mg/L leads to many health complications, including but not limited to weak bones and enamel fluorosis. Thus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines 1.20 mg/L as the maximum permissible F- concentration in drinking water. The electrocoagulation method (EC) is globally practised to remove many pollutants from water due to its cost-effectiveness, safety, and ease of use. However, EC has some drawbacks, such as the lack of reactors’ design. In this study, a new EC reactor, which uses four drilled aluminium electrodes and a variant cross-section section container, was designed and used to remove F- from water. The design of the new EC eliminated the need for water mixers. The ability of the new EC unit to remove F- from synthetic water was evaluated at different current densities (CD) (1–3 mA/cm2), electrode distances (ELD) (5–15 mm), pH of the solution (pHoS) (4–10), and initial F- concentrations (IFC) (5–20 mg/L). The outcomes of this study prove that the new reactor could remove as much as 98.3% of 20 mg/l of F- at CD, ELD, pHoS, and IFC of 2 mA/cm2, 5 mm, and 4 and 10 mg/L, respectively. Full article
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16 pages, 5767 KiB  
Article
Alternatives to Enhance the Structural Performance of PET-Modified Reinforced Concrete Beams
by Joseph J. Assaad, Mario Khalil and Jamal Khatib
Environments 2022, 9(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030037 - 17 Mar 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4072
Abstract
Numerous studies investigated the possibility of incorporating plastic wastes in concrete mixtures, thus contributing to efficient management and sustainable development of the construction industry. This paper investigates the possibility of reducing the water-to-cement ratio and/or incorporating steel fibers or polymeric latexes to mitigate [...] Read more.
Numerous studies investigated the possibility of incorporating plastic wastes in concrete mixtures, thus contributing to efficient management and sustainable development of the construction industry. This paper investigates the possibility of reducing the water-to-cement ratio and/or incorporating steel fibers or polymeric latexes to mitigate the drop in structural properties of reinforced concrete (RC) beams containing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) additions. The PET was derived from waste plastic bottles that were shredded into small pieces and added during concrete batching at 1.5% to 4.5%, by total volume. Test results showed that the concrete plain and structural properties degrade with PET additions, given their lightweight nature and poor characteristic strength compared to aggregate particles. The reduction of w/c from 0.55 to 0.46 proved efficient to refine the matrix porosity and reinstate the shear and flexural strengths of RC beams. Moreso, the incorporation of 0.8% steel fibers (by volume) or 15% styrene-butadiene rubber latexes (by mixing water) were efficient to enhance the bridging phenomenon and reduce the propagation of cracks during beam testing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Environments in 2021)
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2 pages, 177 KiB  
Editorial
Dynamics of Vegetation and Climate Change
by Mauro Raposo and Carlos Pinto-Gomes
Environments 2022, 9(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030036 - 17 Mar 2022
Viewed by 3087
Abstract
A set of climatic events that have occurred throughout the Paleolithic ages and all the way up to the present day have led to profound changes in the biosphere, such as periods of glaciation and global warming [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamic of Vegetation and Climate Change)
32 pages, 22015 KiB  
Article
Precipitation and Temperature Trends and Cycles Derived from Historical 1890–2019 Weather Data for the City of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
by Carling Ruth Walsh and R. Timothy Patterson
Environments 2022, 9(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030035 - 9 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 5388
Abstract
Patterns in historical climate data were analyzed for Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, for the interval 1890–2019. Variables analyzed included records of annual, seasonal, and extreme temperature and precipitation, diurnal temperature range, and various environmental responses. Using LOWESS regressions, it was found that annual and [...] Read more.
Patterns in historical climate data were analyzed for Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, for the interval 1890–2019. Variables analyzed included records of annual, seasonal, and extreme temperature and precipitation, diurnal temperature range, and various environmental responses. Using LOWESS regressions, it was found that annual and seasonal temperatures in Ottawa have generally increased through this interval, precipitation has shifted to a less snowy, rainier regime, and diurnal temperature variation has decreased. Furthermore, the annual growing season has lengthened by 23 days to ~163 days, and the annual number of frost-free days increased by 13 days to ~215 days. Despite these substantial climatic shifts, some variables (e.g., extreme weather events per year) have remained largely stable through the interval. Time-series analyses (including multitaper spectral analysis and continuous and cross wavelet transforms) have revealed the presence of several strong cyclical patterns in the instrumental record attributable to known natural climate phenomena. The strongest such influence on Ottawa’s climate has been the 11-year solar cycle, while the influence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, and Quasi-Biennial Oscillation were also observed and linked with the trends in annual, seasonal, and extreme weather. The results of this study, particularly the observed linkages between temperature and precipitation variables and cyclic climate drivers, will be of considerable use to policymakers for the planning, development, and maintenance of city infrastructure as Ottawa continues to rapidly grow under a warmer, wetter climate regime. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Climate Change, Air Pollution, and Human Health)
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3 pages, 417 KiB  
Editorial
Digital Twins of the Soil Microbiome for Climate Mitigation
by Hussnain Mukhtar, Rainer Ferdinand Wunderlich and Yu-Pin Lin
Environments 2022, 9(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030034 - 9 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3782
Abstract
Recent advances in computation power have enabled the creation of digital twins of the microbiome (DTM) to substantially curb soil greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions under global change conditions [...] Full article
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15 pages, 1648 KiB  
Perspective
Environmental Exploration of Ultra-Dense Nanobubbles: Rethinking Sustainability
by Niall J. English
Environments 2022, 9(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030033 - 9 Mar 2022
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 5179
Abstract
Nanobubbles are nanoscopic gaseous domains than can exist on solid surfaces or in bulk liquids. They have attracted significant attention in the last decade due to their long-time (meta)stability and ready potential for real-world applications, especially in environmental engineering and more sustainable ecosystems, [...] Read more.
Nanobubbles are nanoscopic gaseous domains than can exist on solid surfaces or in bulk liquids. They have attracted significant attention in the last decade due to their long-time (meta)stability and ready potential for real-world applications, especially in environmental engineering and more sustainable ecosystems, water treatment, irrigation, and crop growth. After reviewing important nano-bubble science and activity, with some of the latest promising results in agriculture, we point out important directions in applications of nano-bubble phenomena for boosting sustainability, with viewpoints on how to revolutionise best-practice environmental and green sustainability, taking into account economic drivers and impacts. More specifically, it is pointed out how nanobubbles may be used as delivery vehicles, or “nano-carriers”, for nutrients or other agents to specific targets in a variety of ecosystems of environmental relevance, and how core this is to realising a vision of ultra-dense NBs in shaping a positive and lasting impact on ecosystems and our natural environment. Full article
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4 pages, 195 KiB  
Editorial
Soil Contamination by Heavy Metals and Metalloids
by Dionisios Gasparatos
Environments 2022, 9(3), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030032 - 5 Mar 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4551
Abstract
Soils are central to life on Earth because they provide food, clean water, and air due to their filtering capacity; raw materials; habitats for living organisms; and climate resilience via carbon sequestration, therefore supporting a variety of ecosystem services [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Contamination by Heavy Metals and Metalloids)
24 pages, 102125 KiB  
Article
An Integrated Approach for Evaluating the Restoration of the Salinity Gradient in Transitional Waters: Monitoring and Numerical Modeling in the Life Lagoon Refresh Case Study
by Alessandra Feola, Emanuele Ponis, Michele Cornello, Rossella Boscolo Brusà, Federica Cacciatore, Federica Oselladore, Bruno Matticchio, Devis Canesso, Simone Sponga, Paolo Peretti, Matteo Lizier, Luigi Maniero, Valerio Volpe, Adriano Sfriso, Maurizio Ferla and Andrea Bonometto
Environments 2022, 9(3), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments9030031 - 1 Mar 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4215
Abstract
Large lagoons usually show a salinity gradient due to fresh water tributaries with inner areas characterized by lower mean values and higher fluctuation of salinity than seawater-dominated areas. In the Venice Lagoon, this ecotonal environment, characterized in the past by oligo-mesohaline waters and [...] Read more.
Large lagoons usually show a salinity gradient due to fresh water tributaries with inner areas characterized by lower mean values and higher fluctuation of salinity than seawater-dominated areas. In the Venice Lagoon, this ecotonal environment, characterized in the past by oligo-mesohaline waters and large intertidal areas vegetated by reedbeds, was greatly reduced by historical human environmental modifications, including the diversion of main rivers outside the Venice Lagoon. The reduction of the fresh water inputs caused a marinization of the lagoon, with an increase in salinity and the loss of the related habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. To counteract this issue, conservation actions, such as the construction of hydraulic infrastructures for the introduction and the regulation of a fresh water flow, can be implemented. The effectiveness of these actions can be preliminarily investigated and then verified through the combined implementation of environmental monitoring and numerical modeling. Through the results of the monitoring activity carried out in Venice Lagoon in the framework of the Life Lagoon Refresh (LIFE16NAT/IT/000663) project, the study of salinity is shown to be a successful and robust combination of different types of monitoring techniques. In particular, the characterization of salinity is obtained by the acquisition of continuous data, field campaigns, and numerical modeling. Full article
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