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THIS MONTH'S FEATURE ARTICLE
Engineers will be called upon to find solutions for the challenges the world will face in the 21st century. These articles highlight the diversity of the work which continues in the search for those solutions.

Large “Dead Zone” Forecasted For Chesapeake Bay
July 2019

With funding support provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ecologists from the University of Michigan (U-M) and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science have released a forecast for a large Chesapeake Bay “dead zone” in 2019 due to well-above-average river flows associated with increased rainfall in the watershed since last fall.

“This year’s forecast is for the fourth-largest dead zone in the past 20 years, illustrating that more work needs to be done,” noted U-M aquatic ecologist and report co-author Don Scavia. “The Chesapeake Bay dead zone remains considerably larger than the reduction goals, and we’ll never reach those targets unless more is done to reduce nutrient pollution.”

Scavia, professor emeritus at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, is a member of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded teams that produce annual forecasts for the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay and Lake Erie.

According to information, this summer’s Chesapeake Bay hypoxic or “dead zone,” an area of low oxygen that can kill fish and other aquatic life, is expected to cover approximately 2.1 cubic miles, while the volume of water with no oxygen is predicted to be between 0.49 and 0.63 cubic miles during early and late summer.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Bay Report Card, released earlier this spring, gave the bay a grade of “C” in 2018, in part due to the extreme precipitation. Spring rainfall plays an important role in determining the size of the Chesapeake Bay “dead zone.”

This year, exceptionally high spring rainfall and streamflow is transporting nitrogen to tidal waters in amounts above the long-term average, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which provides the nitrogen-loading estimates used to generate the annual hypoxia forecast.

In spring 2019, the Susquehanna River delivered 102.6 million pounds of nitrogen into the Chesapeake Bay. The Potomac River, as measured near Washington, D.C., supplied an additional 47.7 million pounds of nitrogen, according to USGS. This is well above long-term averages of 80.6 million pounds from the Susquehanna and 31.8 million pounds from the Potomac. Loads from the Susquehanna have not been this high since 2011.

Throughout the year, researchers measure oxygen and nutrient levels as part of the Chesapeake Bay Monitoring Program, run by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. This year’s findings will be released in the fall.



Feature Articles
Below are listed the 12 most recent Feature Articles.
To see the entire list of Feature Articles, visit the Feature Article Archive.
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Large “Dead Zone” Forecasted For Chesapeake Bay
July 2019

This year, exceptionally high spring rainfall and streamflow is transporting nitrogen to tidal waters in amounts above the long-term average…

Materials Explorers™ Program Adds New STEM Resources
June 2019

The Materials ExplorersSTEM outreach program recently launched its newest classroom activities for high school students through…

New Potential Pollutants In Waterways Studied
May 2019

When you flush the toilet, you probably don’t think about the traces of the medicine and personal care products in your body that are winding up in…

Researchers Study Waste Form Corrosion
April 2019

Although glass, ceramics, and metal forms have been around for ages, researchers don’t yet know key details about how materials crumble, dissolve, or otherwise come undone.

Technology Protects The Power Grid By Hacking Would-be Hackers
March 2019

Milos Manic, Ph.D., professor of computer science and director of VCU’s Cybersecurity Center, along with colleagues at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), has developed a protection system that…

NASA’s Webb Telescope To Study Cosmic Jets and Stellar Outflows
February 2019

Webb’s exquisite angular resolution will allow it to pick up the tiniest details.

High-Tech Heating Patches Created
January 2019

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes – while significantly reducing your electric bill and carbon footprint?

Virginia Tech Innovation Campus Helps Attract Amazon
December 2018

Virginia Tech is making a historic commitment to build a revolutionary 1 million-square-foot, technology-focused campus in Alexandria…

Improving Smart-Window Energy Efficiency With Nanoparticles
November 2018

U.S. buildings leak an estimated 30 percent of their energy through inefficient windows, costing consumers an estimated $42 billion annually.

Biosensor Technology For Wearable Devices Invented
October 2018

Engineers have created a smart wristband with a wireless connection to smartphones that will enable a new wave of personal health…

Parker Solar Probe Launched On Historic Journey
September 2018

Hours before the rise of the very star it will study, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched from Florida Sunday, August 12th, to begin its journey to the Sun, where it will undertake a landmark mission.

Possible Treatment Target Identified For Alzheimer’s, Age-related Cognitive Decline
August 2018

Now research from a collaborative team of neuroscientists and engineers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia is shedding light on the underlying mechanisms of brain aging, along with associated neurological diseases.


Feature Article Archive
 
 
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