Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Software Aids Fight Against Nitrates in Florida's Groundwater

08.07.2011
As a young scholar, Fernando Rios loved science and computer programming equally. So when Rios — who holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Canada’s University of Waterloo — went looking for a graduate program, he discovered the Department of Scientific Computing at Florida State University, which has about 35 graduate students and launched a new undergraduate program of computational sciences in fall 2010.

Now, along with his FSU professor and colleagues, Rios has written an important and practical software program that could protect Florida’s lakes and rivers from excessive pollutants.

“I wanted to use both my science and computing skills at the same time, not just one or the other,” said Rios, who, along with associate professor of computational hydrology/geology Ming Ye, recently spent two and half years developing the software, which is designed to help local and state government measure the amount of nitrates from septic systems that end up in surface water bodies such as lakes and rivers.

“In Florida, there’s a lot of septic tank usage — and an increased potential for increased groundwater and surface contamination,” said Rios, who wrote the software known as ArcNLET (ArcGIS-Based Nitrate Load Estimation Toolkit). “When the nitrates enter groundwater, they can end up in drinking water and surface water.”

Nitrates in drinking water may cause a health disorder known as methemoglobinemia, which in newborns can manifest itself as a sometimes-fatal condition called “blue baby syndrome.” Discharge of nitrate-rich groundwater into surface waters also can lead to fish kills, algal growth, hypoxia, eutrophication (a bloom of phytoplankton), and outbreaks of toxic bacteria.

ArcNLET, which is free and available on Ye’s website, officially will debut at a training workshop on Friday, July 8, in the Geography Information Systems Laboratory in FSU’s Bellamy Building. The workshop is geared toward employees of state, local and county governments throughout Florida.

“Basically, we just want to introduce people to the software and give them an idea of what it can do,” Rios said.

The GIS-based model is easy to use “and has a shallow learning curve,” said Ye, who holds a doctorate in hydrology. In addition to his classes in scientific computing, he also teaches in Florida State’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science. “An average person can use this.”

Ye, who, together with Paul Lee and Rick Hicks of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, developed the concepts and ideas behind the septic software model, specializes in predicting how contaminants in water affect human health. Approximately one-third of Florida’s population uses onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems — or septic systems — for treating domestic wastewater. Estimation of nitrate load from septic tanks to surface water bodies is critical to analysis of water resources and to environmental management. The ArcNLET software can estimate such nitrate loads.

The software research and development was funded with a two-year, $80,000 grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, with an additional $60,000 extension of that grant. The development is also supported in part by the Florida Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability at Florida State.

Rios, who is now studying geography in the doctoral program at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, has returned to FSU’s Department of Scientific Computing this summer for a paid internship, partly because he enjoys working with Ye and fellow FSU graduate students. He also is continuing his work on the ArcNLET software project.

“It’s basically a tool to help guide certain kinds of decision-making,” said Rios, who dreams of someday working as a government consultant doing environmental research on groundwater. He said he is proud of his work but adds that ultimately it’s not a panacea.

“No (computer) model will give you a definitive answer,” he said. “Basically, this is just another method to help guide decision-making.”

For more information on ArcNLET, visit Ye’s website (http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~mye/FDEP-IESES.php) or the home page of the FSU Department of Scientific Computing .

Ming Ye | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.fsu.edu
http://www.scs.fsu.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation
20.07.2017 | Brown University

nachricht Holograms taken to new dimension
19.07.2017 | University of Utah

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

Leipzig HTP-Forum discusses "hydrothermal processes" as a key technology for a biobased economy

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation

20.07.2017 | Information Technology

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing

20.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

First direct observation and measurement of ultra-fast moving vortices in superconductors

20.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>