NEWS & EVENTS
Environmental Science Modules
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    Environmental Science Modules


    The Nitrogen Cycle: Impacts of Agriculture and Global Climate Change -- Student Materials
    The Nitrogen Cycle: Impacts of Agriculture and Global Climate Change -- Instructor Version
    Nitrogen Cycle Guide

    Module Authors: Alan Stam

    Author Contact: astam@capital.edu 

    Funded By: W. M. Keck Foundation


    This module will use the Denitrification-Decomposition computer simulation model (DNDC) (ISEOS, 2009a), which is a process-oriented computer simulation model of biogeochemistry of soil N and C. It was developed for application to agricultural soils for use in predicting the effects of different cropping practices on soil C sequestration, trace gas emissions, crop yield, and N loss from soils. DNDC's design enables its application to issues relevant to global climate change. This module is designed for use in courses in environmental science, environmental computational science, and ecology that have a focus on biogeochemical cycles. An understanding of the basic concepts of biology (including minimal microbiology), chemistry, and soil science is desirable for student success with this module, although relevant concepts are covered in the module where appropriate. Upon completion of this module, the successful students will have acquired knowledge of the terrestrial biogeochemical cycle of N and the effects of environmental factors, including N, on crop productivity. The module provides the opportunity to develop a systems perspective to biogeochemical cycling (and other applicable topics), as well as skills in working with a computational model of systems (the DNDC model).

    Modeling the Performance of a Solar Heated Sunroom: Heat Gain, Storage and Loss
    Modeling the Performance of a Solar Heated Sunroom: Heat Gain, Storage and Loss: Zipped Files
     

    Module Authors: John E. Petersen, Alfredo Fernandez-Gonzalez

    Author Contact: john.petersen@oberlin.edu 

    Funded By: W. M. Keck Foundation


    In this module students build, explore and modify dynamic simulation models of solar gain, heat storage, transfer and loss in a sunroom. The objective of this module is to provide students with a practical example of how basic mathematical formulations and a variety of simplifying assumptions can be combined to develop a model that can be used to improve system design, analyze system performance, and explore the efficacy of different management approaches for optimizing thermal performance. In the process of completing the exercises associated with this model students will develop an understanding of the implications of technological and management choices and an intuition for performance dynamics. At the same time, students will develop a clearer sense of the practical role that simulation modeling can play in the design and interpretation of real-world systems. The exercise will also help students to understand how interacting physical processes (in this case heat flux via radiation, conduction and convection) can be “parameterized” by modelers to balance the goals of mechanistic realism and practical usability.

    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: Boundaries
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: Drawdown
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: Infinite
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: Radial Travel
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: Uniform Travel
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: WhAEMmap
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: WhAEMnomap
    Well Hydraulics and Capture Zone: WhAEMreview

    Module Author: kathryn Thorbjarnarson

    Author Contact: thorbjar@geology.sdsu.edu 

    Funded By: W. M. Keck Foundation



    Assessment of well capture is necessary for two scenarios: (1) Identification of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for contamination of a drinking water well and (2) Identification of regions for wellhead protection. In many contaminated sites, multiple possible sources or responsible parties could have caused the pollution. The need to identify the responsible party or parties results in litigation and assessment of groundwater flow patterns (see “A Civil Action”, the Woburn, Massachusetts case). Models are used to simulate the groundwater flow and to see whether groundwater underneath potential sources is eventually captured by the pumping well. To further assess the feasibility of a potential source, the travel time of contaminants from the source to the well is estimated to see if the timing fits with possible releases from the site. Well-capture models and numerical models (MODFLOW) can be used to evaluate the capture zone and travel times.

    A Tale of Two Lakes: Environmental Mass Balance Modeling

    Module Author: Kathryn Thorbjarnarson

    Author Contact: kathryn.thorbjarnarson@geology.sdsu.edu 

    Funded By: W.M. Keck Foundation


    This module will explore the use of mass balance modeling to assess environmental impacts in lakes. Students will explore simple mass-balance models which result in algebraic solutions. More complex scenarios will utilize EXCEL for model simulation. The module can be a stand-alone component for a general education class in environmental science and/or more complex modeling scenarios can be explored in upper-division undergraduate hydrology and computer science classes. Knowledge of basic algebra and the ability to use EXCEL is required. Upon completion of the module, students will have gained an understanding of the impacts of water diversions on water bodies through the two case studies, Mono Lake and Salton Sea.

    How Far Will It Go? Predicting the Extent of Groundwater Plumes
    How Far Will It Go? Predicting the Extent of Groundwater Plumes: Supporting Documents

    Module Author: Kathryn Thorbjarnarson

    Author Contact: kathryn.thorbjarnarson@geology.sdsu.edu 

    Funded By: W. M. Keck Foundation


    This module will explore the use of a solute transport model to assess the fate of organic contaminants in groundwater. An analytical solution to the advection-dispersion equation with retardation and transformation will be implemented in EXCEL. The module can be used in a lower-division undergraduate computer science class. The module serves as an introduction to more complex software and modeling scenarios using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s models, BIOSCREEN and BIOCHLOR. Knowledge of basic algebra and the ability to use EXCEL is required. Upon completion of the module, students will have gained an understanding possible natural bioremediation or natural attenuation of groundwater contaminants.

    Global Climate Modeling

    Module Author: Terry Lahm

    Author Contact: tlahm@capital.edu 

    Funded By: National Science Foundation (9952806)


    Since the Industrial Revolution, scientists have observed a dramatic increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases. These increases have lead to global warming of the planet and resultant changes in the climate (Alexander and Fairbridge, 1999). CO2 has long been known to be an important greenhouse gas and has been monitored for decades at several site around the world including Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii. Mathematical and computational models have played a significant role in understanding past and future climate changes. This module will address the development of a climate change model using a radiative equilibrium relation known as Stefan-Boltzmann Law. Modeling will employ the STELLA system modeling software to create this dynamic model of the Earth's atmosphere.

    Groundwater Flow Modeling

    Module Author: Terry Lahm

    Author Contact: tlahm@capital.edu 

    Funded By: National Science Foundation (9952806)


    Groundwater moves through the geologic environment according to the distribution of hydraulic forces. This movement can be mathematically modeled to represent the flow of groundwater through this porous media environment. The mathematical model are often solved computationally using advanced numerical methods. This module examines the movement of groundwater which can carry water contaminants through the subsurface to the accessible environment. This module uses modeling techniques from spreadsheets to industry standard models such as MODFLOW published by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Phosphorus Cycling Model

    Module Author: Terry Lahm

    Author Contact: tlahm@capital.edu 

    Funded By: National Science Foundation (9952806)


    Biogeochemical cycles are important in understanding global and local movement of chemical species throughout the hydrosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere. The major biogeochemical cycles include the phosphorus, nitrogen, carbon, and sulfur cycles. This module examines the phosphorus cycle in aquatic systems and the resulting eutrophication (i.e. over-fertilization from human activities) that can occur. In particular, we will examine the impact of aqueous phosphorus on Lake Erie water quality. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and has had a heavy influx of phosphorus from industrial, municipal, and agricultural sources from both the U.S. and Canadian shoreline. Phosphorus is a limiting nutrient that promotes growth of organic material and has played a significant role in the water quality with Lake Erie during the 1950s-1970s (McGucken, 2000).