PSU and Biederman’s Deli presents Science Brew Café October 15

October 3rd, 2013 by Lynn

    Sensing New Hampshire’s Streams and Rivers

    PLYMOUTH — Learn about science and meet scientists discussing an issue of local interest and importance in a comfort¬able, community setting! 

    Clear mountain streams flowing from the White Mountains and powerful industrial rivers are hallmarks of New Hampshire’s rich natural beauty and cultural heritage. While our waters are of exceptional quality in most cases, there are still water quality and quantity issues. A group of people interested in water resources have been using water sensors deployed in streams and rivers across New Hampshire to understand water quantity and quality better. This effort, which draws on community volunteer monitors, has been active for one year. After this first year, we can begin to discuss what we are observing, what we have learned, and how it may help water resources management in the region.

    Come grab some food and a drink and be ready to learn and ask questions. This is a casual setting; researchers will speak briefly about their work, but the majority of time will be used for audience question and answers. The event will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15, 6 p.m., Biederman’s Deli & Pub, 83 Main St. Plymouth, and the public is invited.

    Presenters include Dr. Mark Green, Assistant Professor of Hydrology, Plymouth State University, Ashley Hyde, Masters Candidate, Environmental Science and Policy, Errin Volitis, Research Technician, PSU Center for the Environment.

    PSU assists with new Atlantic Coast ecosystem study

    August 24th, 2013 by Lynn

      PSU Research Technician Errin Volitis, left, helps a volunteer scientist set up water sensors in one of 87 rivers involved with the NEST project. COURTESY

      PLYMOUTH — New Hampshire and Maine’s coastal tourism and shellfish industries contribute $400 million annually to the regional economy but the coastal environment is vulnerable to the effects of land development and climate change.

      A team of researchers led by the University of New Hampshire and the University of Maine will conduct a three-year study of the many factors affecting the health of their shared coastal ecosystem.

      This collaboration, funded by a $6 million award from the National Science Foundation, aims to strengthen the scientific basis for decision making for the management of recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting.

      The project, known as the New England Sus- Tainability Consortium, is managed by the EPSCoR programs at UNH and UMaine in partnership with Great Bay Community College, Plymouth State University and Keene State College in New Hampshire, and the College of the Atlantic, University of Southern Maine and University of New England in Maine.

      Citizens interested in participating in the research will have an opportunity to join the New England Stewardship Network which will be developed by UNH Cooperative Extension to connect natural resource organizations, public agencies, scientists and volunteers.

      Coastal water assessment programs currently use the presence of fecal indicator bacteria and, more recently, pathogenic bacteria as risk assessment tools for managing recreational beaches and shellfish harvesting. However, these methods are poor predictors of risk.

      A better understanding of how environmental and climatic conditions affect the dynamics of potential pathogens is essential for informing public resource management decisions.

      For example, water temperature and water runoff from land both influence hazardous bacteria populations, and therefore risk to humans. PSU Research Assistant Professor Doug Earick is participating in the study and says the work has regional importance.

      “We are very excited to continue and expand the work we are doing at PSU around the study of the region’s water resources and impacts humans have on water quality,” Earick said. “This project will provide us with the resources to expand our research into new locations with new partners, but also the opportunity to look beyond the science to think more about how we can engage others in understanding problems and in finding solutions to issues around this critical resource.”

      NEST will select a number of study sites in each state that differ in ecological and social attributes (e.g., closure frequency, watershed loadings, economic impact of coastal tourism or shellfish harvests). Researchers will investigate how natural processes (e.g. water flow in rivers) and human activities (e.g. land development) in coastal watersheds influence bacterial dynamics.

      A major focus of the work is to understand how scientific knowledge is used for making resource management decisions, such as decisions to close shellfish beds to harvesting.

      There is widespread agreement among resource managers and scientists in both states that current beach and shellfish management approaches are flawed; sustainability science research methods offer a means to address these flaws. NEST will use a collaborative process in which resource managers participate in defining problems, identifying research needs, interpreting results and designing solutions.

      “This award is both a testament to the terrific work carried out by the talented researchers at New Hampshire’s colleges and universities, as well as an important look at our state’s coastline and ecosystem,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DNH). “New Hampshire’s coastline is critical to our economy and the Granite State’s natural beauty, and this research will play a key role in efforts to protect these areas for future generations.”

      Plymouth State University will participate in the project through expanding a current water research project to the Gulf of Maine, leading workforce development initiatives, and examining inclusive decision-making as a product of ecosystem research. Three of PSU’s faculty (Mark Green, assistant professor of hydrology; Doug Earick, assistant research professor; and Shannon Rogers, assistant professor and ecological economics) and students from the Center for the Environment and Department of Environmental Science and Policy will be involved in the project.

      Green will lead work on the establishment of ten new electrical conductance/ temperature/river stage sites in rivers draining to the Gulf of Maine which will be integrated into the existing NH LoVoTECS program that engages local citizen scientists to help maintain high-frequency water quality sensors that are used to understand the hydrology of the contributing watershed.

      Earick will oversee a series of statewide and regional training and dissemination workshops on the implementation and effectiveness of curricular changes that incorporate civic engagement and student service-learning around the overall scientific scope of the project.

      Rogers will utilize social science approaches to ecosystem research to support more inclusive decision making to produce tangible information that can be compared to management alternatives and used by decision makers to communicate and elect more preferable scenarios.

      The mission of N.H. EPSCoR is to broaden and strengthen New Hampshire’s research capacity and competitiveness through research, education and economic development. It’s critical for the state to broaden and diversify the capacity to conduct research; to support business, industry and society with a workforce educated in science, engineering and mathematics; and to improve communication between scientists and the public.

       

      Plymouth State students oversee volunteer water sampling project

      July 16th, 2013 by Lynn

        PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY Environmental Science and Policy graduate students Ashley Hyde and Matt Bartley collect water samples in the Pemigewasset River in Plymouth July 8. COURTESY

        PLYMOUTH — On July 16, volunteers throughout New Hampshire have committed to collecting water samples in the State’s rivers and streams to take a ‘snapshot’ of water quality.

        Plymouth State University is overseeing this unique water sampling project with the goal of improving the understanding of New Hampshire’s water resources and providing data to be used by resource managers, state agencies, researchers, and educators.

        How does it work? Approximately 50 volunteers throughout New Hampshire have committed to collecting water samples that will be sent to PSU and a University of New Hampshire lab for detailed lab analysis of a number of different chemicals in water.

        PSU is believed to be the first to organize such an effort in New Hampshire — and effort that has involved hours of planning and logistics. Errin Volitis, a research technician with the Center for the Environment at PSU is helping to coordinate the effort.

        “Each sampling day involves volunteers carefully collecting filtered water samples from their site,” said Volitis. “The samples are then frozen for storage and set to a laboratory for analysis. PSU has provided each volunteer with sampling supplies and instructions, but the volunteers have made the project possible.”

        Assistant professor of hydrology Mark Green is the researcher who developed the project concept.

        “The idea was to give us three snapshots of NH’s rivers and streams allowing us to better understand the difference between water resources in the State, and how these water resources respond to the different types of land use,” Green said. “The data from this project will be extremely valuable in creating new understanding about our water conditions in New Hampshire.”

        The river sites where water samples are being collected are part of a larger project funded by the National Science Foundation through a cooperative agreement to the New Hampshire Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Since 2012, state-of-the-art sensors have been recording temperature, electrical conductivity, and river height continuously at each of the water sampling sites.

        The network has been designed to include all watershed sizes, shapes and land uses, which are geographically dispersed across New Hampshire. The network is coordinated by a group of researchers, staff and students at Plymouth State University and implemented by a broad group of partners, including educators, researchers, government agencies, non-profit organizations and citizen scientists.

        “The water samples will be analyzed to determine basic measures of water quality. We are looking at concentrations of phosphorus, dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen in addition to pH, turbidity or clarity, and major ions (Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Sulfate, Nitrate). These ions are major contributors to electrical conductivity, so they will help us interpret the water electrical conductance data we get from the sensors,” said Green.

        Data from the July 16 sampling project will be analyzed this fall and results shared then. “We can’t thank everyone enough,” said Volitis.

        NH volunteers to collect 87 simultaneous river, stream samples for Plymouth State research

        July 16th, 2013 by Lynn

           By HOLLY RAMER  Associated Press
          July 14, 2013 – 2:31 pm EDT

          CONCORD, New Hampshire — More than 50 volunteers will be simultaneously collecting water samples from 87 New Hampshire rivers and streams next week as part of a research project that organizers believe is the first of its kind in the state.

          The project’s leaders at Plymouth State University hope that by taking snapshots of water quality, they can provide a better understanding of the state’s various water resources and how they respond to housing development and other types of land use.

          “We have pretty good data around the state, but it’s often collected at different times,” said Mark Green, an assistant professor of hydrology who developed the project. “So if you coordinate a lot of people to dip a bottle at a similar time, that’s the best way to compare the way different land uses impact water quality.”

          That’s important, he said, because water quality has a significant economic impact in the state.

          “It makes it a great place to live, but it also brings in a lot of tourism,” he said.

          Using supplies and instructions provided by Plymouth State, volunteers will collect filtered water samples from their sites, which range from spots where rivers begin in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire to where the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers cross into Massachusetts. The samples will then be frozen for storage and sent to a laboratory, which will determine basic measures of water quality. That includes determining concentrations of phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon, as well as evaluating acidity, turbidity and clarity.

          Researchers also will look at ions that contribute to electrical conductivity, which will help with a larger project funded by the National Science Foundation. That research involves sensors that continuously record temperature, electrical conductivity and river height at the sampling sites.

          Green said those sensors provide rough information about whether road salt, for example, is getting into the water and affecting quality. The water sampling project will provide more detailed information to explore that issue, he said.

          Data from the July 16 sampling, along with previous samplings in May and June, will be analyzed in the fall and shared with state agencies, resource managers, researchers and educators. While the information will be most sought after by scientists, Green said researchers also want to share the findings in a way that makes sense to the volunteers, many of whom were motivated to participate because they care about rivers and streams in their area.

          “A big goal of ours is to be able to communicate this back to interested citizens,” he said. “We want to be able to provide information so they know where they sit relative to the rest of the state with regards to water quality.”

          NH to gather 87 simultaneous river, stream samples

          July 16th, 2013 by Lynn

            CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Volunteers will be dipping bottles into 87 New Hampshire rivers and streams at the same time next week as part of a water sampling project that organizers believe is the first of its kind in the state.

            Plymouth State University assistant hydrology professor Mark Green is leading the project. He says while there is good water quality data around the state, a lot of it was collected at different times. He hopes taking a one-day snapshot will provide a better understanding of the state’s various water resources and how they respond to housing development and other types of land use.

            The samples collected Tuesday will be frozen for storage and sent to a laboratory, which will determine basic measures of water quality.

            PSU professor receives Fullbright Scholarship

            June 28th, 2012 by Michael

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