Author(s): Makenna Barbara Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Becky Johnson Environmental Sciences Becky Bittle Engineering Tamie Morgan Geological Sciences
Location: Session: 1; Basement; Table Number: 4
Urban Heat Islands (UHI) describe a phenomenon of increasing ambient temperature in densely built areas of cities as compared to rural areas. Impervious cover, ubiquitous in urban areas, appears to absorb solar radiation and reemit that radiation as heat. Urbanization and UHIs have impacts that range from local to global scales and can be found in cities of all sizes and climatic regions (Fernando 2013). This study focused on Tarrant County, Texas and analyzed changes in impervious surface cover and average monthly temperatures at four different NOAA weather monitoring stations over approximately 60 years in a search for urban heat island effect. Temperature analysis indicates an increase in temperature over the 60-year period. This study aims to determine whether that temperature increase is due to UHI.
The Urban Heat Island effect, or UHI, describes a phenomena involving heighted temperature indices in metropolitan areas when compared to surrounding rural landscapes. An increasingly relevant area of study following the advent of global warming, today, the associated “infernos” plaguing urban landscapes across the globe have the capacity to seep beyond concrete jungle walls, to reap havoc on once lush and vibrant vegetation and ecosystems. The following analysis combines an understanding of the Urban Heat Island effect with Remote Sensing technologies and Landsat Aerial Imagery to uncover the impact of urbanization in Seattle, Washington. With an emphasis on illustrating change over time, historical data surrounding imaging and climate trends further support this GIS analysis of vegetation in Seattle.
Is there a correlation between respiratory illness and mobile on-road sources of nitrogen oxide emissions, point sources of nitrogen oxide emissions, and minority or impoverished populations in North Central Texas? If so, where are the highest and lowest priority zones for the investment of zero emission vehicles and infrastructure?
The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants classified as harmful to human health and the environment. Known as “criteria” air pollutants, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10), and Sulfur Dioxide are all regulated under the NAAQS in order to protect the health of the public and the health of sensitive/vulnerable populations. Sensitive populations include asthmatics, children, and the elderly. North Central Texas currently does not currently meet the NAAQS for Ozone (O3) and thus is required to develop a state implementation plan (SIP) to demonstrate how the region plans on reducing O3 levels in order to achieve attainment.
Tropospheric O3 is classified as a secondary air pollutant because it’s not directly emitted into the atmosphere. Instead, O3 is created via the chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.
Since the formation of O3 in the Troposphere relies on the concentration of NOx in the air, it is important to understand the different stationary and mobile emission sources in the Dallas-Fort Worth non-attainment area.
(Poster is private)
Bats are critical to their surrounding environment, thus we need to know what resources bats need to survive, such as water. Many available water resources in urban areas are ephemeral and dry up during the hot Texas summers. We explored bat resource use in an urban environment by radio-tracking bats in local Fort Worth parks, Foster Park and Overton Park. We used Lidar and 3D mapping in ArcGIS 10.6 to portray our study site where bats were tracked. Using digital elevation, we evaluated high elevation points in the parks that can be used in conducting future surveys.
(Poster is private)
Water resources are critical to areas experiencing urbanization and a rapidly increasing population. The depletion of these resources due to either human usage or environmental factors has the potential to lead to water scarcity in surrounding areas. A GIS analysis was conducted on Lake Mead near Las Vegas to assess the change in water level over time.
(Poster is private)
Healthcare deserts are an emerging problem in the United States, especially in rural areas. Individuals in these areas do not have access to adequate healthcare, and in most cases they are forced to travel long distances to receive the care they need. In the Permian Basin, this can be of concern for those working in the oil industry as well as their families. A GIS analysis was conducted to identify healthcare deserts in this area.
Author(s): Sharra Kucera Environmental Sciences Michael Slattery Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Michael Slattery Environmental Sciences
Location: Session: 2; 1st Floor; Table Number: 1
Limited research has been conducted on the spatial and temporal linkages between the hydrology of prairie hillslope seeps, their associated headwater streams, and the vegetation and topography present within these unique ecosystems. The hydrology, varying soils, and distinct vegetation make these ecosystems important as they may function as wetlands. These seep systems differ from the more traditional forested hillslope seeps of the southeast: The prairie riparian zones with shallow soils are often dominated by annuals, and the ephemeral or intermittent nature of the hydrology present in the headwater streams restricts many tall grasses as soil moisture is too varied. This paper presents our work on the hydrologic regime of a central Texas prairie hillslope seep system by analyzing the spatio-temporal response of soil moisture and water potential to precipitation, runoff generation, and streamflow response. We also examine the vegetation-soil moisture association across the hillslopes and attendant seep systems. Preliminary results indicate that the micro-watersheds within these seep systems completely saturate during wet periods and stay saturated at the base of these slopes even during dryer conditions. They are, therefore, potentially important (if not the dominant) contributor to stream flow. The ultimate goal of this research is to document and quantify the hydrologic functioning of these seep system to determine whether they may act as ephemeral or intermittent wetlands. It may serve as supporting evidence for the improvement of habitat management and the protection or restoration of riparian headwaters, or wetlands.
Author(s): Amy Lam Environmental Sciences Olivia Jones Environmental Sciences Todd Longbottom Geological Sciences
Advisor(s): Omar Harvey Geological Sciences
Location: Session: 1; 3rd Floor; Table Number: 8
(Poster is private)
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Americans generate on average 12600 tons (around a thousand school buses) of coffee grounds per day – which is most often landfilled. This typical waste stream represents a potential feedstock for developing carbon-based materials with applications across numerous disciplines. For example, initial research in Dr. Harvey’s Lab on spent coffee grounds, received from Avoca Coffee Roasters in Fort Worth, has shown that charring the grounds at 350 ℃ improved its Lead removal abilities. Our research will build upon this previous research by conducting more controlled studies to evaluate those earlier results and determine the optimal charring temperature for producing charcoals for water filtration applications. Since we had no control over how the previously donated coffee grounds were brewed by Avoca Coffee Roasters, we decided to design an experiment that will give us more control over the brewing process. The coffee beans were obtained from Avoca Coffee Roasters and brewed according to the Golden Ratio. We will also study the surface properties of charred coffee grounds produced at 350 ℃, 450 ℃, and 650 ℃ from Ethiopian and Mexican coffee grounds.
A GIS analysis was conducted to study the impacts of megaherbivores on the structure and spatial distribution of vegetation in Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa. The reserve was created in 1999 from 7,500 ha of agricultural land. Historical Landsat satellite imagery was analyzed and processed to examine the succession of vegetation as it progressed from an agricultural state to a more natural state. Megaherbivore GPS tracking data was mapped and analyzed for a period from(2011-2018) to examine their distribution and their impacts on landsover. Other factors such as elevation, slope and access to water were examined to determine how each factor influenced the distribution of the animals. It is hoped that these efforts will support management and conservation by identifying the resources used by the megaherbivores and identify any possible limitations that the Amakhala reserve might need to consider as a long-term conservation plan.
(Poster is private)
Zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, are an invasive species of freshwater bivalves that have recently spread into bodies of water across North America. Zebra mussels inhabit the shallow waters of lakes and tightly attach to any and all hard surfaces. They are efficient filter feeders and can filter up to 1 L of water per day per mussel. This increases the clarity of water dramatically which alters the lake habitat for other lake species. In this analysis, water clarity data was mapped for “infested” lakes for the years 2008 (pre-zebra mussels), 2010 (one year after zebra mussel infestation), and 2016 (seven years after infestation). The average clarity of the lakes increased by 9.36%, with larger lake clarity increasing the most dramatically.
Habitat loss, disease, and land-use change has led to a sudden decline in bat populations in the US. Thus, there is a need to determine the extent of the impact before we can effectively implement counter-measures. One way to assess the impacts is to monitor areas with a high abundance and species diversity, such as Big Bend National Park with 25 of the U.S.’s 47 native bat species. We therefore assessed whether 1) acoustic monitoring at the park was a feasible technique and 2) if the diversity of species recorded and their activity patterns could contribute to national long-term monitoring.
In Big Bend National Park, data is being collected using acoustic monitoring to analyze the diversity of bat species and their activity patterns within the region. Big Bend National Park, located in Brewster County within the Trans-Pecos region of southern Texas, covers 800,000 acres and ~190 km of the Rio Grande river along its southern border. Elevation within the park ranges from 547 m to 2387 m. This elevation gradient creates a diverse matrix of bat habitats within the park. Using plant associations and elevation, five habitat types have also been identified; river floodplain-arroyo, shrub desert, sotol-grasslands, woodlands, and moist chisos woodlands (Higginbotham and Ammerman, 2002). A GIS analysis was conducted on the areas surrounding the acoustic monitoring stations to provide additional data on the elevation, water resources and habitat cover. All of this data was analyzed to provide additional information on the resources available to the bats and their relationship to the species diversity, relative abundance and seasonal activity patterns of bats.
A GIS and remote sensing analysis of Rwanda was conducted to analyze changes in land cover, urbanization, and croplands over time. Data mapping changes in major crops productivity throughout time was also analyzed and combined with information on elevation and soil conditions. All factors were analyzed to identify the location and suitability of soils for each major crop.
Nitrate contamination of groundwater in the Seymour Aquifer is a well-known issue that has been documented since the 1960's. Concentrations as high as 35 ppm NO3-N have been reported, which is a startling 3.5 times the EPA allowable standard for drinking water. While most water from the Seymour Aquifer is used for agricultural irrigation, a portion is still used for domestic purposes and therefore poses a risk to human health. While this problem may have been recognized, the specific source of this contamination remains unknown. Three potential sources of nitrate within the aquifer are being considered in this study—the geological makeup of the aquifer, the agricultural contribution of nitrate from fertilizers, and the historical land use change of the area above the aquifer.
My research will combine various statistical and geospatial technologies in order to 1) view nitrate contamination as a function of well depth and 2) Determine the temporal change in NO3-N concentrations over a distribution of well depth. Readily available groundwater quality data from the Texas Water Development Board will be used in conjunction with geospatial analysis and statistical analysis to identify well depth distribution and changes in the aquifer's water quality with respect to well depth over time. After a thorough analysis of the site area via the aforementioned methods and technologies, a portrait that depicts the both spatial and temporal changes of nitrate contamination in Texas's Seymour Aquifer ought to be painted.
Author(s): Jacob Portillo Environmental Sciences Kelby Caplinger Environmental Sciences Michaela Donahoo Geological Sciences Dorothy Gilliam Environmental Sciences Ella Hellessey Environmental Sciences Wyly Lincoln Environmental Sciences Aurore Manzi Environmental Sciences
Advisor(s): Omar Harvey Geological Sciences
Location: Session: 2; 2nd Floor; Table Number: 8
The long term effects of urbanization on soil properties in Fort Worth, Texas remain largely unknown, making future predictions of soil health and the development of environmentally beneficial practices difficult. The rapid expansion of the Fort Worth Metroplex begs the question of how can cities best prepare for or mitigate the effects of disturbance due to construction and constant lawn care. In order to understand how soil properties change with time after an initial disturbance, many different methods were implemented to quantify and qualify the different stages of post-urbanized recovery in order to find the trend the soils at the houses of varying age ranges took relative to the natural area. Overall, the soil properties trended towards recovery and the deviation from the natural park area decreased as the houses increased with age. The only variable that did not follow this trend was amount of organic matter at each site, which was determined to be affected uniquely by lawn care and the continued use and accumulation of nutrients from fertilizer applications. These results can be used to identify and understand the effects caused by future construction projects and possibly be used to establish more sustainable development in the DFW area.
Telemetry is an effective method for collecting movement data, however, transmitters have the potential to negatively impact the maneuverability and behavior of wildlife, particularly volant species. Despite concerns, no studies have assessed the potential effect of transmitters on bats. Thus, we conducted a behavioral study on evening bats (Nycticeius humeralis) in a controlled environment. We found that while there was not a decrease maneuverability, it did alter behavior. Bats flew 79.5% less with the transmitter attached. Furthermore, these impacts did not diminish over time (3 day period), which in turn could have consequences for telemetry survey data collection and interpretation.
Africa's copper belt contains two-thirds of the entire world's cobalt, a mineral required for the production of cell phones, laptops, and most importantly, electric automobiles. No area has been more dramatically impacted by the increasing demand for this mineral than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dramatic images of the environmental and human impacts of the mining industry can be found in the news and on the internet. A GIS analysis was conducted to look at the environmental impacts of the mining industry on the land cover and environment in the Congo. Landsat satellite images were collected over various time periods and analyzed for land cover and vegetation changes to document and quantify the impact of the mining activities.
(Poster is private)
Urbanization is a central theme to humanity’s progress in large metropolitan areas. However, desire for greenspace and nature are also shown to be integral for citizen happiness and peace. At what rate does urbanization occur within a small area of DFW that is often considered suburban? Is this urbanization mostly residential or is this the fault of corporate land usage? This study uses GIS to investigate the differences over time in natural spaces vs. manmade structures by looking at differences in vegetation to assess the rate of urbanization in one of the most quickly developing areas in Texas.
(Poster is private)
Iron oxides have a controlling effect on how carbon and contaminants move through the which has impacts on climate change and pollution. Carbon held more tightly to the soil can be sequestered for longer periods of time. These tightly held contaminants are less of a threat to spread and impact groundwater. The driving factor in the movement of these compounds are the binding-debinding energies. This study will use flow adsorption microcalorimetry to systematically analyze the energetics and bonding dynamics involved in different combinations of iron oxides and organic molecules of varying carbon chain lengths (along with the presence of amine functional groups). This will allow us to isolate the effect that these different chain lengths have as well as the presence of amine functional groups. The study will focus on the systematic collection and analysis of experimental data that can be used to support the development, validation, and refinement of computational models of interactions involving natural organic matter at the metal oxide-water interface while facilitating the further development of experimentally-driven understandings of binding-debinding dynamics of organic molecules onto mineral surfaces.
(Poster is private)
Habitat loss due to urbanization is a primary cause of declining bat populations globally. As a result of this, research has been conducted to review swimming pools as an alternative source of water for bats in urban areas. After collecting data, GIS analysis utilizing color infrared imagery was performed to assess the impact that residential swimming pools have on bat populations.
(Poster is private)
In the state of Texas, groundwater resources are utilized for irrigation, mining, municipal use, manufacturing, livestock and steam electric. Over the past 20 years however, there have been shifts and significant trends in groundwater pumpage that can be attributed to changes in annual precipitation, drought, declining industries, and the status of livestock. A multi-year GIS analysis was conducted to analyze trends in Texas Groundwater and the overall factors that impacted pumpage.
(Poster is private)
South Africa is unique in that the majority of its wildlife is managed in privately owned game reserves. One major challenge for reserves is maintaining healthy stable populations, particularly large species, such as the big five (white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), African elephant (Loxodonta africana), Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), African leopard (Panthera pardus), and lion (Panthera leo)). Nevertheless, there has been very little research on management of these charismatic species in such size restricted reserves. To address this need, we are studying the impacts of megaherbivores on the structure and spatial distribution of vegetation in Amakhala Game Reserve. The reserve was created in 1999 from 7,500 ha of agricultural land. Since the formation of the reserve, succession of vegetation has been encouraged to create a more natural environment. However, the introduction of large herbivores, such as elephants and rhinos, may have altered or slowed down this succession. To explore this hypothesis, we conducted a GIS analysis using Landsat imagery and megaherbivore GPS tacking data. Vegetation type was classified to quantify historic changes, and we performed kernel densities and an emerging hotspot analysis with the tracking data (2011-2018) to determine megaherbivore distribution. We determined that the megaherbivores hindered the natural succession of vegetation by maintaining grasslands and preventing woodland encroachment. These findings will facilitate game reserve management by identifying Amakhala’s limitations for increasing browsing herbivores as well as the potential for the addition of grazing herbivores.
(Poster is private)
Large numbers of migratory tree bats are killed at wind turbines globally. Recent studies have predicted potential population-level impacts as a result, highlighting the need for strategies alleviating bat-wind turbine collisions. Research has shown bats active in close proximity to turbines, approaching and interacting with tower surfaces as if they provided resources, such as water sources and foraging opportunities. Evidence indicates that the smooth surface of the towers can be misperceived by bats as water, and it can also create an acoustic mirror that can enhance foraging success. We hypothesized that a textured coating would disrupt the smooth tower surfaces. Thus, the focus of our study was to determine if texture application would result in decreased bat activity in proximity to tower surfaces, which in turn would reduce collision risk. From May to September 2017, we used thermal cameras, night vision technology, and ultrasonic acoustic bat detectors to assess bat activity at two pairs of wind turbines in north central Texas. Each pair comprised a texture-treated turbine and a control, and bat proximity and behavior at towers were compared. In this first year of testing, we conducted 76 survey nights, observed 1030 confirmed bats on video, and recorded 1215 acoustic calls from 7 bat species. To fully assess the effectiveness of the texture coating, we will be repeating surveys from June to September 2018.
This project will map 2,000-4,000 rare plant species found in Texas. Most of these species have geocoordinates, with some only down to the county-level. These georeferenced plants will be overlaid on to soil type, precipitation, and land development, topography, and ecosystem type maps. This analysis will explain why these habitats are ideal for the rare plants in Texas. Understanding the habitats of these rare plants is important in preserving endangered botanical species. This could lead to a better understanding of this rare biota.
On average, Americans generate about 11.4 million kilograms of spent coffee grounds per day. That is an equivalent weight of a thousand full-size school buses, every day. Most of this coffee is discard, where it eventually ends up in a landfill. However, if recycled or reused this commonly discarded material has many potential uses including as a pest repellent or garden fertilizer. Another use is as a sorbent to remove water contaminants. This means that coffee grounds have the potential to be used as a key component in carbon-based water filters. Evidence from recent research conducted in our laboratory at Texas Christian University shows that charred coffee grounds can effectively remove lead contamination from water. My research will further this work by identifying 1) the specific properties of charred coffee grounds that allows for the removal of lead from water and 2) the optimal temperature for producing charred coffee grounds for water filtration. With the use of infrared spectroscopy and other materials characterization techniques, I will study the properties of charred coffee grounds produced from regular Folgers coffee and an Ethiopian-blend at 250 ℃, 350 ℃, and 450 ℃.