Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research is ensuring stormwater systems are designed for the future

24.04.2012
Whether the weather is cold or hot, rainy or not, research is ensuring stormwater systems are designed for the future

In a world of changing weather and rainfall patterns, engineers face challenges when designing stormwater management systems.

A Kansas State University team is researching how climate change is affecting rainfall and weather patterns throughout Kansas to help with future adaptation and mitigation strategies. The research team, led by Stacy Hutchinson, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, is updating rainfall distribution data to ensure current stormwater management systems can handle future weather changes.

"We are looking at how the state can minimize risk by developing a better understanding of past weather variability while looking forward at the variability expected with future climate change -- whether it is farm production systems or stormwater management," Hutchinson said.

Collaborators on the project include Shawn Hutchinson, associate professor of geography; Aavudai Anandhi Swamy, research assistant professor of agronomy; and Vahid Rahmani, doctoral student in biological and agricultural engineering, Iran. Rahmani is researching Kansas rainfall data and recently received a first-place award at the K-State Research Forum for his oral presentation "Intense rainfall events distribution pattern in the state of Kansas."

"Our research involves understanding how climate change and land cover change -- which is the conversion of natural prairie land and agricultural land to urban and suburban land uses -- affect the potential for flooding," Hutchinson said. "It's where the variability of reality meets the built engineered world."

When engineers design stormwater management systems -- such as terraces and grass waterways in crop fields or storm sewers with underground pipes that transport road runoff to the nearest body of water -- these systems are usually designed to handle a specific storm. In the Manhattan area, natural systems such as grassed waterways and terraces are designed to handle slightly more than 3.5 inches of rain in 24 hours. This rainfall event is expected to happen once every 10 years.

Issues arise because the National Weather Service has not updated rainfall distribution maps for the state of Kansas since 1961. Researchers are updating this data to provide a more accurate weather benchmark that engineers can use when designing stormwater systems. Kansas is ideal for studying climate change and variability because there is more variability across Kansas than from the eastern edge of Kansas to the Atlantic Ocean, Hutchinson said.

To track weather patterns and understand how they have changed, the researchers conducted a similar analysis as the 1961 data. Rahmani studied weather and rainfall data from 24 weather stations in Kansas and 15 stations outside the state. The researchers noticed several trends in the data they collected.

"We're actually seeing more rain across the state, which is kind of surprising because we thought it would be getting drier in the western part of the state," Hutchinson said. "We are getting wetter across the state, but it is much more drastic in the southeast, where we are seeing more high-intensity storms."

The research team found that the 1961 data overestimated the size of storms. That means the currently designed systems are adequate for stormwater management, Hutchinson said, but if the shift in more rain and stronger weather events continues, stormwater systems may need to be redesigned.

"There is discussion among the engineering community about if we need to rethink the size of storm that we design for," Hutchinson said. "The bottom line is that now we have an idea of how weather trends have shifted across the state. This information will be useful to anybody who deals with stormwater runoff -- from the Kansas Department of Transportation to agricultural producers."

The research also is helpful for improving natural stormwater systems, which especially interests Hutchinson. She has studied how to move away from the concrete jungle of pipes and move toward more natural stormwater management systems, such as wetlands, rain gardens and terracing. Challenges exist with natural systems because climate and land cover changes have caused many more peaks and valleys in stormwater runoff -- from times with flooding to drought periods. As a result, natural systems tend to be at capacity in the spring because of increased rainfall and they tend to dry up during the summer when it rains less.

"We needed a better understanding of the variability of the weather so that we could better understand any risks with these natural systems," Hutchinson said. "The amount of water that flows through a pipe is pretty consistent and you can always size a pipe. But the amount of water that can be absorbed by a wetland systems is a lot more in August when it is hot and dry than it is in May."

The researchers are continuing to analyze data and are preparing the research for publication. Their work is funded as part of the $20 million Kansas National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research project researching global climate change and renewable energy research.

Stacy Hutchinson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.k-state.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>