Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lack of oxygen in the groundwater

29.04.2015

Geoscientists of Jena University analyze soil contamination through melt waters at airports

Spring has arrived in Europe with mild temperatures and sunshine. Where just a few weeks ago the ground was frozen and partly covered in snow and ice, it is now thawing. This doesn't only have an impact on the flora and fauna.


Airports use de-icing agents during the winter. These chemicals have a negative impact on groundwater quality, according to a new study of geoscientists from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

Thawing results in soil and the groundwater at airports being impacted by chemicals, which are contained in melt water. The reason: Airports have to use de-icing agents during the winter, which end up on unpaved areas and infiltrate into the soils during snowmelt.

“Admittedly, airport operators in EU-countries are compelled to sustain a good condition of the groundwater or at least to avoid detrimental concentrations of pollutants in the groundwater,“ says PD Dr. Markus Wehrer from the Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany).

“However, it is common practice that along the runways huge amounts of de-icing fluids infiltrate into the ground,“ the Hydrogeologist adds. It does indeed make sense to use the natural self cleaning capacities of the soil. However, the de-icing chemicals have a negative impact on groundwater quality and the functions of the soil. This was shown in a new study of a team of researchers around Prof. Dr. Kai Uwe Totsche at the Jena Chair of Hydrogeology.

In the science magazine “Environmental Science and Pollution Research“ the scientists of the University Jena wrote that chemicals like propylene glycol und potassium formate are being degraded by micro-organisms living in the soil and therefore don't get into the groundwater – at least not straight away (DOI: 10.1007/s11356-014-3506-3). “On the other hand, heavy pollution through these substances leads to a dramatic decrease of oxygen content in soils and groundwater,“ Heidi Lissner, the first author of the study explains: This is because the microbes use oxygen to degrade the pollutants.

“The more of these substances they have to metabolize, the more oxygen they use for this,“ says the geoscientist, who developed the results – which are now published in the study – within the framework of her PhD thesis. As a consequence iron and manganese oxides, which stabilize the intergranular cement of the structure of the soil, dissolve.

For their study the Jena team of researchers analyzed the soil around the airport of the Norwegian capital Oslo. There, every winter about 1,000-1,500 tons of de-icing agents are used. “At the same time, the airport is situated directly next to the largest superficial aquifer in Norway, the Romerike-Aquifer,“ explains Dr. Wehrer, who supervised Heidi Lissner's work together with Prof. Dr. Totsche. The geoscientists took soil core samples close to the runway of the airport and examined them.

“We wanted to find out, how the de-icing agents affect the condition of the soil and the percolating water,“ Heidi Lissner explains. In order to do so, the young scientist loaded soil cores with water that contained de-icing chemicals and thus simulated a “thawing event“. She collected the seepage water after it passed through the soil cores, followed by an examination for de-icing chemicals as well as the oxygen content and additional parameters.

According to the Jena scientists, their exemplary results can be transferred to the situation at other airports. “Chemicals for de-icing aircrafts as well as runways are used wherever there is snow and ice in winter,“ Dr. Wehrer says. He stresses that, additionally, measures to reduce the oxygen content in the soil around airports could be deducted from the new scientific results. Apart from installing specific areas, which allow the thawing water to seep away in a controlled manner, a controlled use of bacteria in the soil, which are specialized in the degradation of these chemicals, is conceivable.

This requires an additionally improved oxygen supply in the soil. Also, alternative substances, which can be used for the degradation of pollutants similar to the way in which oxygen works, may be supplied. Moreover, the texture of the soil could be shaped in a way that delays the seepage of the polluted soil water. Through a longer interval, which is then available for the degradation of the substances, a lack of oxygen could be avoided, because atmospheric oxygen is transferred slowly but continuously into the soil.

Original-Publication:
Lissner H. et al. Constraints of propylene glycol degradation at low temperatures and saturated flow conditions. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2015) 22:3158–3174, DOI 10.1007/s11356-014-3506-3

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Kai Uwe Totsche, PD Dr. Markus Wehrer
Institute of Geosciences
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Burgweg 11, 07749 Jena
Germany
Phone: ++49 3641 948650
Email: kai.totsche[at]uni-jena.de, markus.wehrer[at]uni-jena.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.uni-jena.de

Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>