Hood College Graduate School Blog: Student earns scholarship award for summer internship project
Text from Hood College Graduate School:
Jared Tomlin, C’16, a Master of Science candidate in environmental biology, was presented with a scholarship award from Science Systems and Applications, Inc. at a recent event held at the NASA headquarters. He worked with NASA this summer on a project focused on ecological forecasting. This video gives an overview of the project.
Jared is back at Hood to start work on his thesis, which will examine the effect of riparian zones on flooding in the Shenandoah Watershed.
AUG 10, 2016
This summer, Science Systems and Applications Inc. (SSAI) selected three participants to receive scholarships: Jared Tomlin from Goddard, Rachel Cabosky from Langley and Daryl Ann Winstead from Marshall. All three embody not only DEVELOP’s core values but those of SSAI! Congratulations to Jared, Rachel and Daryl Ann and thank you for your many contributions to DEVELOP
In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, DEVELOP partnered with NPS to use NASA Earth observations to monitor change and threats to America’s national parks and inventory and monitoring networks. On August 9th, DEVELOP presented a poster session at the DOI building in Washington DC. Congratulations NPS on 100 years of excellence!
Text from Hood College Graduate School Blog:
Jared Tomlin, C’16, a Masters of Science in environmental biology candidate, is working with NASA this summer on a project focused on ecological forecasting.
Tomlin is conducting work as a participant in the NASA DEVELOP Program, which is a part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program and operates at 13 locations throughout the nation. Tomlin’s project team is working at NASA Goddard Space and Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and partnering with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor and forecast the abundance and distribution of invasive brome grasses in the Northern Plateau.
The brome grasses impair the area’s native grasslands and contribute to a decrease in native species diversity. Understanding the behavior of the invasive species through space and time is key in developing successful management efforts.
“The program functions to give partner organizations, such as the National Park Service, the ability to better understand complex, landscape level environmental questions for decision making by utilizing the constellation of Earth observing NASA satellites, tools and operational support,” he said.
In addition to the years of field data collected by scientists in the area, the job requires the use of Landsat and Terra satellites, both part of NASA’s Earth observations fleet.
Tomlin earned a certificate in geographic information systems from Hood College in May, making him well equipped for the position. The selection process for participants in the DEVELOP program is considered highly competitive.
“Attending the Hood job fair with a résumé in hand to talk to the DEVELOP representative gave me a start, and my adviser was key in helping navigate the process,” he said. “A strong GPA with a background in GIS and Earth sciences, as well as technical ability in programming and design, were key in my acceptance.”
Tomlin learned about many different GIS and remote sensing solutions throughout his GIS course work, and he maintained a focus on environmental biology and climate change.
“The education I received at Hood College was paramount,” he said.
Before pursuing graduate studies at Hood, Tomlin attended Shepherdstown University in West Virginia, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and sustainability. He plans to continue his education to earn a doctorate and go on to work at NASA or a similar organization.
Using Geographic Information Systems to visualize the effect of spring water input on the temperature of Carroll Creek in Frederick, Maryland
This project aims to develop simple methods for analyzing spring input into a small creek. Carroll Creek is a small creek which runs through Frederick, Maryland and has historically served as a habitat for brook trout ( Salvelinus fontinalis ) (Stranko et al., 2008). Brook trout is an important native species which is threatened by warmer water. Using stream temperature data collected manually combined with GPS data to build a map, this project establishes an easy method for identifying small springs by their thermal signature in a small creek.
Brook trout ( Salvelinus fontinalis ) are an important species in the Frederick, Maryland as it is the only native trout species in Maryland (Butowski et al., 2009) and a highly prized game fish. Brook trout are sensitive to sustained temperatures above 24 degrees Celsius (Stranko et al., 2008) and are likely not to survive in temperatures above 20 degrees C (Butowski et al., 2009). Ongoing efforts are being made locally and nationally to restore brook trout habitats and populations. Understanding how stream temperatures are affected by groundwater springs could be useful in determining if springs are important thermal refugia in brook trout habitats.
Geographic Information System (GIS) is a useful tool in analysis of stream conditions (Charlsie et al., 2008). The goal of this project is to be able to visualize changes in the stream temperature of Carroll Creek. The main advantage of GIS is the ability to consolidate spatial information as well as flow and temperature information in an easily read format.
Materials and Procedures
On March 18, 2015, temperature, flowrate and GPS data was collected behind the University of Maryland Office off of Montevue Avenue in Frederick, Maryland to analyze temperatures gradients of Carroll Creek, and the spring that resides near by and to determine whether the thermal signature of the spring can be detected in the stream. Firstly, an initial assessment was taken of the temperature outside, the width across Carroll Creek, the depth of flow rate (10m) from the confluence, and the actual flow rate time (10m) from the confluence. Next, temperatures were taken in the creek away from the confluence from where the spring and creek intertwine. Temperatures were different, therefore further data was collected. Temperature data were collected at 50 meters intervals, starting 100 meters above the confluence of the spring and stream. Temperatures were then collected at three locations across the creek, once in the middle of the flow and once at each shoreline. GPS was used to determine spatial information about each data collection site along with temperature, shade presence, and flow data.
Flow data was determined by measuring the depth at the three positions of the first data collection site and the width of the creek. The measurements were used to create a simplified cross section of the creek with three intervals. A 100 meter distance was measured along the stream and a water bottle was dropped and timed 3 times in each section for each of the sections in the stream (left bank, middle, right bank). An average of the three times was then multiplied by the respective cross sectional area and the three areas were then added together in order to determine estimated total stream flow.
The GPS coordinates were recorded in memory of a Garmin GPSMAP 64 handheld GPS unit then later extracted to a PC in GPX format. The waypoints were imported to a shapefile using the GPX to feature tool in ArcMap 10.2. Two data frames were created in the construction of the map; a basemap of Carroll Creek and the Spring located off of Montevue Avenue in Frederick, Maryland and one of the GPS points and temperature readings that overlaid the basemap.
The first step to building data frame 1; named WGS84, was to locate and download the basemap, found on ARCGIS.org. The map was projected as the Geographic Coordinate system, World Geographic System, Web Mercator Auxiliary Sphere, also written GCS_WGS_1984. Google Earth is known for using Geographic Coordinate System therefore, the basemap in this experiment was altered to resemble Google Earth’s projections; unprojected, (GCS) and displayed in Meters versus degrees.
The same basemap was added to the second data frame but this time the projections were altered to resemble the Maryland Geological Survey’s projections that are NAD_1983_2011_Stateplane_Maryland_FIPS_1990; Lambert_Conformal_Conic. Using ArcGIS, a new shapefile; polyline called Carroll Creek, was created. A polyline is a an object that helps to display a series of connected segments such as rivers, streets, etc. The new shapefile was also given the same projections of data frame 2; named NAD83. The line segments, were then connected and layered onto the basemap to represent the Spring as well as Carroll Creek using the Editor Tool in ArcGIS. Subsequently, another shapefile was created, this time to represent the point features; temperature data collected at the two waterways. Once more, the same projections of data frame 2 were given to the shapefile; Temperatures. The Editor Tool was used again, to create point features that overlaid the polyline shapefile and basemap in data frame 2. Temperature data was then added to the Attribute Table of the point layer in ArcGIS. Attribute tables are used to symbolize datasets within the map. One way to symbolize datasets, is to set the classification to a specific color band under the Symbology tab within the properties of that layer, which was also completed in this data frame.
It was determined that shade could not be a variable to influence the readings found in Carroll Creek due to the seasonality of the year. The temperature outside the day data was collected, was 11°C and the width across Carroll Creek was 5.3 meters. The leftside and middle depth of the creek were 23cm and the rightside of the creek was 20 cm. The first flowrate interval was timed at 33 seconds. The second interval was timed at 30.67 seconds and the third interval was timed at 23.57 seconds. The average velocity was 10m per 29.08s for a total estimated flow rate of .0365 m^3 s.
(5.3m x 10 m x .2m) / 29.08s = 0.365 m^3 s.
The flow rate for the spring was too small to be calculated this way. As shown in Table 1 and displayed on the map Figure 1 below, the hypothesis of this experiment was found to be true; signifying change in temperature between 613 meters from the confluence spanning a total of 4 degrees celsius.
Table 1 Carroll Creek Temperature Data
Table 1. Stream temperatures recorded at distances upstream and downstream of the confluence of Carroll Creek and the spring. The table shows stream temperature influence from 6 meters to 13 meters downstream the confluence.
There was sufficient evidence to confirm that there is a change in temperature at the confluence between both bodies of water and at least 19 meters past the confluence. Around 23 meters, temperatures begin to return to an average reading of 11°C.
Figure 1. A map of Carroll Creek and the spring. Warmer spring waters are shows in orange. Inset is a zoomed in map without the aerial imagery showing spring temperature influence 19 m to 23 m downstream of the confluence.
The methodological approach in conducting this experiment and the use of a temperature gauge, measuring tape, a stopwatch for flow rate, a Garmin GPS and a water bottle was considered to be a conceptual model to emphasize the effect of spring water input on the temperature of Carroll Creek in Frederick, Maryland at that time. The results would likely change at different times of the year; such as in the summer when the stream is warmer or deep in winter when the stream is nearly frozen. Studies at different times of the year would be needed in order to determine the Springs influence throughout the year.
There were a few potential errors found after the experiment has subsided that may have influenced the results. One potential problem or error that could have influenced our results for the timed flowrate was where Jared stood in the creek when dropping the bottle. His position may have possibly affected the timing by creating an eddy; slowing the time. Perhaps next time, releasing the bottle on the end of a stick, will help to get a more accurate reading. Use of an actual stream flow meter such as the GEOPACKS Advanced Stream Flow Meter, which runs about $655 would also be helpful in conducting a superior and accurate assessment. There are more affordable means of obtaining a stream flow meter like borrowing one from a local college or University. All of the supplies used in this experiment were borrowed from Hood College.
Subsequently, small rapids found at 23 and 43 meters from the confluence might have influenced the results of the experiment. Obtaining a reading at each rapid prior to assessing the input temperatures from the Spring on Carroll Creek will help to decrease inaccurate results. Finding a basemap of Carroll Creek that was visually accurate to build the map was difficult. Taking pictures at the site of the experiment, will help in accurately building a map in the future.
The map was able to output to KML and imported into Google Earth but only in very rough form. KML development and file processing in the Python programming language could help tie the map to a live online dataset. This project relates to pollution biology as thermal pollution is one of the many threats to brook trout. This method could be used to find possible trout refugia during warmer water temps or it could be used to identify unknown springs entering the creek for further analysis or modeling. Further research should be done connecting the above methods and known temperature modeling methods such as using meteorology on a 24 hour time scale to compute temperature inflow loads and withdrawals through the process of subdividing the river into unique lengths (Kasch, M. et al., 2009).
Butowski, N.,Cosden, D., Early, S., Gougeon, C., Heerd, T., Heft, A., Johnson, J., Klotz, A., Knotts, K., Lunsford, H.R., John Mullican, J., Pavol, K., Rivers, S., Staley, M., Toms, M., Kazyak, P., Klauda, R., Stranko, S., Morgan, R., Kline, M., Hilderbrand, B. 2009. Maryland Brook Trout Fisheries Management Plan. Univ. MD. Center for Environ. Stud. Appal. Lab.
Carlisie, D. M., J. Falcone, and M. R. Meador. 2009. Predicting the biological condition of streams: Use of geospatial indicators of natural and anthropogenic characteristics of watersheds. Environ. Monit. Assess. 151:143–160.
Kasch, M., K. Flynn, B. Starr and D. Kron. 2009. Modeling streamflow and water temperature in the Bitterroot River, Montana. TMDL Tech. Rep. Mont. Dep. Env. Qual.
Stranko, S.A., R.H. Hilderbrand, R.P. Morgan, W.W. Staley, A.J. Becker, A. Roseberry Lincoln, E.S. Perry and P.T. Jacobson. 2008. Brook trout declines with land cover and temperature changes in Maryland. NA J Fish Manage. 28:1223–1232.
Here I created a soil science motivational poster. It reads:
Every human that has ever existed has relied on soil for food. Without the proper understanding of the nature and scarcity of soil, past land development and agricultural practices have destroyed much of Earth’s living skin,the soil. The race for mechanized farming and industrial application of pesticides over the last century have left the planet permanently scarred. Images from pintrest.com, emaze.com, theatlantic.com
Soil science has opened our eyes about the scarcity of the soil sphere and its disproportional influence on the human food web. Science and technology have helped bring fertility back to the ground. Humans have greatly benefited from the bounty of the soil and its inhabitants. Aparadigm shift has entered the consciences of humanity. We can no longer think of Earths resources as unlimited and instead consider a sustainable, cradle-to-cradle approach. Image from utexas.edu
A soil scientist has knowledge of life’s most important system for food. By protecting and nurturing Earths great soil sphere, you can answer the tough questions about food disparagement around the world. At 7 billion and growing, Earths population is going to be very hungry. Images from damebradburys.com, utexas.edu and commonvision.org
Chesapeake Bay Forest Buffer Project Prospectus
Which portions of the Chesapeake Bay riparian forest buffers are not yet restored or have become degraded? Are there agricultural lands that could be focused on?
Over the past 20 years, massive efforts have been made to reestablish a healthy forested buffer system along the banks of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Buffers are important landscape features that line both sides of a stream or river in what is known as the riparian zone (Palone, 1994). Since European establishment in the Chesapeake Bay, forest loss has dropped as low as 80% causing massive sedimentation and more recently nutrient loading (CBP, 2014).
While there are a handful of different types of buffers strips that are used to prevent nutrient loading in the streams, forested buffers are far more preferable. Since the establishment of efforts to restore forest buffers in 1996, 60% of the bay has seen restorative efforts (CBP, 2014). One setback about the buffers’ total count is accounting for buffers that have been lost. While the restoration project had noticeable success during the first years of its establishment, participation has slowed greatly over the last few years (Forestry Workshop, 2013). Much of the river shed is privately owned by farms and efforts should be made to encourage further buy in from private land owners. Non-point source pollution is the greatest contributor of unchecked nutrients into the bay. Even though forest buffers are the most beneficial and least expensive management practice, efforts have declined in recent years.
A GIS overview analysis of the current riparian buffers and their spatial realities is an excellent way to gain further understanding as to what areas there is sufficient riparian forest buffer relative to the geologic constraints and land use. This project proposes to give broad overview of the forested riparian buffers in the Chesapeake Bay. The size of the buffer can be analyzed to calculate whether it is within the range of best management practices for its particular environment. Finally a layer showing land plots can be overlaid in order to see if any specific areas could easily be addressed if needed. The sheer size of the undertaking makes GIS a necessary tool for large scale calculations (Letsiger, 2014).
Development of a GIS solution for an overview of the riparian buffer zones in the Chesapeake Bay would help to gain information about restored areas that have been lost, allowing for the actual percentage of riparian buffer to be reported. Further broad analysis can be made about the areas where riparian buffers are not established. If the map shows a lack of buffer where there is a private farm, action can be taken to address that farmer directly to see if the farmer would be willing to work with governmental programs to increase their forested buffers (Forest Workshop, 2013).
Data Requirements and Sources
Chesapeake Community Modeling Program (CCMP) – Open Source (Free)
Chesapeake Bay Program’s Watershed Phase 5.3 Model
This is to be used as a basis for nutrient load modeling. Land use can be used to establish current nutrient loads and hot spots.
Areas with a lack of forest buffer can be analyzed further to model different management practices. This information can be brought to the land owner as proof of concept. This is a very important model because it allows for the breakdown of smaller watersheds. Further, this model is a way to address the many geographical regions and calculates the biogeochemical variables that the Chesapeake Bay watershed spans instead of including a geological layer and attempting to develop meaningful buffer strategies.
Supplemental CCMP Modeling Tools
Riparian Analysis Toolbox
This is an extension of the above mentioned Phase 5.3 Model for the Chesapeake Bay. The toolbox comes with three very useful tools. A Riparian Delineation tool which gives an idea of where riparian zones should be based on elevation and stream channel orientation. A Buffer Width Calculator uses proven algorithms to estimate the buffer width and a Strategic Prioritization Ranking can be used to locate important sites for restoration based on nutrient loading.
USGS National Map Layers (Free)
Particularly useful to this project is the Land Cover. This layer is important to relate geographic areas to current structures and land use. Land cover types that are important in this project include urban, agricultural and forest. The most recent version is from 2011.
Structures Data Model
This layer is important because it contains data about the actual footprint of building with classifications about the property. Included domains include information about the industry, such as agriculture, as well as the type of agriculture. This information can be important in establishing an approach to developing new forested buffers in areas where they do not exist in agricultural sites.
The first step of the project would be to run a simple watershed analysis with the Chesapeake Community Modeling Program model. A visual inspection of the many regional geologic areas shows that there are many important considerations at each level of the huge rivershed. Second would be to overlay the riparian analysis toolbox tools in order to get an overview of the riparian zone borders, the calculated width and the biogeochemically important areas.
These results would then be an overlay of the USGS layers which represent the land use, the topography and development zones and building footprints. Using a series of Selection By Location and Selection By Attributes selections, areas with expected riparian buffers in the models can be selected where there is a building or agricultural development in the Land Use layer. The same type of selection can be made for areas in protected zones or areas where acceptable riparian buffers already exists.
If data was available from the Chesapeake Bay Program about the sites of current riparian forest restoration projects (currently the data is available as a finished map only), then areas that have been restored but since degraded can be selected out and a new calculation of the overall length of forest buffers currently exists. It would make a good resource as well in future forecasting by the forest buffer tools for identifying areas with heavy pollution and little riparian protected or high protection in the case of an establish restoration area.
Taking Stock of Riparian Forest Cover GIS Streamlines Inventory of Riparian Forest Buffers in Chesapeake Bay Watershed, National Consortium for Rural Geospatial Innovations Chesapeake, Pennsylvania State University 2001
This was an early effort to use GIS top map to buffer forests in the Chesapeake Bay. The goal was to offer a broad analysis of the bay for the purposes of policy and restoration. Similar to the proposed project, the main concern of this paper is to identify sources of non-point source pollution areas for restoration. The data used was from the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay Program and the USDA. They did not specify the model used but the goal was similar to the proposed project as well, determining watershed and buffer areas based on a computational algorithm. At the time, they found that 34% of the watershed had a riparian zone of 300 feet or more.
Evaluation of Riparian Buffer Zones using GIS and Remote Sensing, Sally L Letsinger, Indiana Geological Survey
This study focuses on an area not within the Chesapeake Bay but has many of the same characteristic issues, namely suburban development.
This study combined hydrologic modeling as well as field data to draw watershed delineation, also using morphology, land use and vegetation as variables for classification. They then used USGS land cover and soil data to enhance their hydrologic model to discover the locations and extent of pollution. Their model was run multiple times to simulate different scenarios with more or less buffer in place. As in the above study, insufficient buffers were in place.
Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP), 2014, Science. Restoration. Partnership. Chesapeakebay.org
Forestry Workgroup. 2013. Buffering the Bay. Forestry Workgroup Report.
Letsinger, S. L., 2014, Evaluation of riparian buffer zones using GIS and remote sensing, Indiana Geological Survey. Indiana.edu
Palone, R.S. and A.H. Todd (editors.) 1997. Chesapeake Bay riparian handbook: a guide forestablishing and maintaining riparian forest buffers. USDA Forest Service. NA-TP-02-97.
National Consortium for Rural Geospatial Innovations Chesapeake (RGIS). 2001. Taking Stock of Riparian Forest Cover GIS Streamlines Inventory of Riparian Forest Buffers in Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Pennsylvania State University. psu.edu