Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.
OCR for page 8
1 Introduction The United States faces widespread problems associated with environmental resource degradation. Our air, land, and waters are subjected to multiple human-induced stressors that alter their quality. These disturbances in- turn lead to riparian ecosystem habitat loss, biogeomorphic landscape changes, changes in water availability, and increased discharges of a variety of pollutants over different temporal and spatial scales. All this is adversely affecting economic productivity, human health, and ecosystem functioning. To help address our current environmental problems, we need an improved understanding of the fundamental processes that take place in large-scale human-stressed environments over long time periods. This better understanding can come from observing different environments at regional scales. We need to monitor and measure how the characteristics and functioning of environmental resources and ecosystems change and determine why they change to the extent they do. This new knowledge should lead to improved predictive models and to more effective adaptive management policies and practices. To accomplish this we need improved sensors and measurement technology that can provide high resolution and integrated data. This will require a cyberinfrastructure capable of collecting, managing, and using very large integrated data sets. Having this infrastructure will facilitate numerous research investigations aimed at obtaining an improved understanding of interacting environmental system processes. Altered hydrologic regimes and increased pollutant concentrations in our air, soil, and water can adversely affect the quality of those resources, and their value to humans, as well as the functioning of natural ecosystems. We need to quantify these relationships so that the likely consequences of human decisions can be predicted and possibly valued. Because pollutants cycle between air, water, and land, we need to understand the interplay among these media and how efforts to control pollutants in one medium, say water, affect the quality in other media, say air or land. In addition, society needs more effective ways to select among management strategies (e.g., promoting the use of alternative materials versus developing enhanced waste treatment options) to address complex environmental problems and develop short-term strategies that satisfy long-term needs. Contaminated water resources are a special concern, with major problems in large rivers (e.g., the Mississippi, the Hudson), coastal waters (e.g., Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay), groundwater aquifers (e.g., salt water intrusion along coastal aquifers), small streams (e.g., those receiving the sediments from mountain-top removal for coal mining or from poor agricultural or logging practices) and lakes of all sizes (e.g. those subjected to nutrient enrichment from development along their shores). Pathogenic microorganisms, such as Cryptosporidium, are common in the nation's waters and threaten public health. Organic chemicals and trace metals from municipal and industrial sources pose risks to human health and to aquatic organisms, as do pharmaceuticals and 8
OCR for page 9
Introduction 9 personal care products that increasingly are being detected in surface waters. Challenges to understanding and management are exacerbated by linkage to large-scale and long-term trends, such as global warming, economic globalization, and growing energy scarcity. These and similar observations in the U.S. and abroad have motivated the considerable attention given to the concept of environmental sustainability. To help scientists, engineers, and managers better understand, model, forecast, and manage the quality of the environment and discover innovative approaches for its improvement, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been planning several observatory networks designed to promote a greater understanding of hydrologic, environmental, ecological, and related processes affecting, and affected by, human activities. In particular, the Directorate for Engineering has proposed the Collaborative Large-scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research (CLEANER) to enable the identification of more effective adaptive management approaches for human-stressed environments based on enhanced observations, experiments, modeling, and engineering analysis. Other proposed networks include the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), being developed within the Directorate for Biological Science; the Hydrologic Observatories initiative fostered by the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Incorporated (CUAHSI), the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), and the Geosciences Network (GEON), which are supported by the Directorate for Geosciences; and the Arctic Observing Network of the Office of Polar Programs. In late 2004, the NSF proposed the merger of CLEANER and CUAHSI's Hydrologic Observatories into a joint, bi-directorate program. The CLEANER and CUAHSI communities are currently collaborating to create a common science plan (targeted for completion in late 2006) for the merged activity, the Water Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network. Although all aspects of this merger were not fully resolved during the period of this study, which presented a "moving target" for our committee, this report has been written in an attempt to be useful and relevant to CLEANER, or the WATERS Network, or any observatory network focused on aquatic environments affected by human activities, or, and preferably, the integration of these different observatory initiatives. Generally, we refer to our subject matter as "CLEANER" but the report should be equally relevant to the WATERS Network. CLEANER CLEANER is to be an integrated network of environmental observatories supporting both fundamental engineering research and outreach and education on large-scale, water-related environmental problems in human-stressed environments. CLEANER observatory sites will likely be some combination of:
OCR for page 10
10 CLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories (1) large watersheds selected to represent a range of climatic, geomorphic, and land-use/land cover characteristics; (2) coastal sites; and (3) urban water systems. The watersheds (scale of about 10-30 thousand square kilometers) ideally would include the full range of human impacts from pristine or nearly pristine areas to heavily urbanized and agricultural lands. They would be instrumented in a nested arrangement to provide critical water-related information across a range of spatial scales from small to higher order (larger) catchments. The coastal sites would instrument important but threatened near- shore environments such as Chesapeake Bay, Tampa Bay, and coastal areas on the Great Lakes. Urban water observatories would provide water quality and quantity information on both the natural and engineered water systems in urban areas across a range of climatic zones. These urban areas would include their infrastructure for drinking water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and storm-water management (P. Brezonik, NSF, personal communication, 2006). The proposed observatories would provide researchers with access to linked sensing networks, data repositories, and characterization and computational tools for integrated assessment modeling, connected through high-performance computing and telecommunications networks. CLEANER would potentially provide a comprehensive engineering approach to forecasting and evaluating regional environmental impacts, accounting for human influences on natural biological, chemical, and physical processes. Such an approach should lead to the establishment of cause-and-effect relationships with a feedback mechanism for implementing change through innovative engineering and policy interventions. Origin The CLEANER concept originated in 2001, and several workshops have been held at various universities since then to develop it further. This proposed program has been motivated not only by the need to better understand environmentalhuman interactions and impacts, but also by the increasing availability of new technology in sensors, communications, information management, and computing. This technology presents opportunities for learning how to better protect, restore, and manage the environment at spatial and temporal scales that have not been previously possible. Participants in the various workshops focused on the information needs of environmental scientists and engineers, and on how such information is to be obtained, managed, and converted to knowledge for the benefit of diverse groups of stakeholders, i.e., researchers, educators, policy makers, and the affected public. The following key research elements for the CLEANER program emerged as a result of these early planning efforts:
OCR for page 11
Introduction 11 · learning how hierarchies (scale and complexity) of human-stressed environmental systems and their linkages can be better understood through integrated assessment models; · understanding the functioning of large-scale, complex, perturbed environmental systems by identifying the stressors that influence the outcomes of interactions among system components, based on frequent observations facilitated by real-time devices for sensing, data acquisition, data analysis, and data display; · identifying vital sign indicators based on functional understanding, both for system condition and early warning; and · learning how better to prevent and mitigate adverse environmental impacts and better manage stressed environmental systems. Goals CLEANER aims to create a network of observatories and an advanced cyberinfrastructure that will facilitate the collaboration of engineers, scientists, policy makers, and community groups working across disciplines, across temporal and spatial scales, and across different types of surface and subsurface environments in watersheds subjected to a range of climatic conditions. This collaborative work is to be focused on developing the ability to detect and respond effectively to rapid changes in system functioning, to implement near real-time decision-making supported by data collection that can be used to anticipate future problems, and to develop innovative and effective engineering solutions and management options. Through CLEANER, the NSF seeks to "fundamentally transform and radically advance" the scientific and engineering knowledge needed to address the challenges of large-scale human-impacted complex environmental systems. CLEANER would focus on stressed environments and on water and associated environmental resources that are critical to economic productivity, human health, and quality of life. Predictive understanding of these changes can lead to more effective adaptive management approaches. CLEANER would provide a focus for developing and/or defining user needs, system architecture, high performance sensors, the operation of integrated sensor networks, and data handling protocols and standards. The coupling of these capabilities with advanced modeling would lead to greater integration of experimentation and simulation. CLEANER would provide access to databases that promote the development and validation of models by reducing the need to make assumptions about mechanisms, by narrowing the uncertainty in parameter values, and by providing better information about time variability of model parameters.
OCR for page 12
12 CLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories Specifically, the goals1 of CLEANER are to: · be an integrated system of distributed, networked facilities and researchers to more readily identify knowledge gaps related to environmental quality issues; · enable the development of creative and effective engineering approaches to complex, national-scale environmental problems; · consist of (a) interacting field sites networked through cyberinfrastructure; (b) groups of investigators studying landscapes stressed by human activities and/or highly urbanized regions; (c) specialized personnel, facilities, and technology that support the investigators, and (d) an analysis network with common modeling platforms and analysis protocols that will serve as the central organizational framework for collaborative investigations; · support collection of critical environmental data with advanced sensor array systems and in situ instrumentation; · facilitate data mining and aggregation and provide analytical tools for data visualization, exploratory data analysis, and predictive modeling of large- scale dynamic environmental management strategies; · enable more effective adaptive management approaches for human- dominated environmental systems based on enhanced observations, experimentation, modeling, engineering analysis, and design; · enable participation from a broad engineering and science community, including educators, students, practitioners, and public sector organizations and individuals, who will have access to CLEANER's equipment, data, models, and software; and · transform engineering education and outreach by engaging the academic community and the general public in large-scale and complex real- world environmental management problems. Status and Future Plans The NSF Directorate for Engineering awarded $1 million in planning grants in 2004 for 12 projects,2 involving principal investigators from 22 universities, to plan the system cyberinfrastructure and the nature of the field facilities that will constitute the network. A CLEANER project office was established in August 2005 to coordinate and assist with (1) refining the key science questions 1http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2005/nsf05549/nsf05549.htm. 2Further information on these projects can be found on-line at http://cleaner.nacse.org/partners/index.html.
OCR for page 13
Introduction 13 (grand challenges for environmental engineering) that CLEANER would address and (2) developing a unified community vision for the facilities and infrastructure needed to address these issues. A conceptual design that describes the research, education, and outreach plans will be a natural consequence of these activities. An important task of the CLEANER Project Office will be developing a community consortium that has the capability to plan, design, construct, and operate the CLEANER network. As noted above, the NSF's Engineering and Geosciences Directorates are currently planning to combine CLEANER with the CUAHSI Hydrologic Observatories into what is now called the WATERS Network. This integrated program would move forward as a single initiative to be presented for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) funding in 2011. Initial construction of the network would shortly follow, and be completed and fully operational by 2015. This committee concurs with, and supports, the NSF in their efforts to develop a more unified community vision for environmental observatory facilities and infrastructure. Such integration brings both scientific benefits as well as economic cost savings. SCOPE AND PURPOSE OF THIS REPORT The Directorate for Engineering is developing the CLEANER program through a phased approach. The initial phase is to identify the science questions that the network seeks to address. Subsequent phases would involve selecting locations, and determining and building the infrastructure needed for the collection of data that will address these issues. As part of the initial preparation of the CLEANER science plan, the NSF sought the advice of the National Research Council (NRC) on water related "grand challenges" that could be addressed by the network and on the value of observatory networks in general. In response to the NSF's request, the NRC's Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) assembled our committee of scientists and engineers with backgrounds in environmental engineering, economics, hydrology and hydrogeology, ecology, coastal and marine science, and computer science. The committee's statement of task (Box 1-1) was negotiated and agreed upon by the NSF and NRC. The timeframe for this study was short. The committee met only once but worked prior to and after that meeting to produce the consensus findings and recommendations stated in this report. Because the CLEANER program is in the early stages of development and the science plan was still being drafted during the committee's deliberations, the committee could not conduct a detailed review of this plan. This report contains a summary, four chapters, and two appendices. Chapter 2 comments on the overall value of the observatory approach. Chapter 3 identifies and describes several "grand challenges" and particular water research questions that the CLEANER program might address. Chapter 4 discusses aspects of the program implementation, including sustainability issues,
OCR for page 14
14 CLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories coordination and integration with existing programs and other observatory networks, the network's infrastructure, and opportunities for dissemination, education, and outreach. BOX 1-1 Statement of Task A committee formed by the Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) will advise the National Science Foundation on its Collaborative Large-Scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research (CLEANER) initiative with respect to (1) the science plan and (2) the potential usefulness of the program. Regarding the science plan, the WSTB will identify some (5-6) of the major issues in the area of water quality and water resources that present "grand challenges" and that lend themselves to being addressed by CLEANER, i.e., perhaps providing the targets for observation and modeling efforts. Regarding the second issue, the WSTB will comment on the overall value to engineering and other potentially interested disciplines of networked environmental observatory facilities to improve our understanding of complicated, large-scale water quality and water resources problems and the development of cost-effective engineering approaches to their solution. The scope of issues to be considered by the WSTB will be limited to water quality and water resources; i.e., air will only be considered to the extent that it affects water. Note that for purposes of this study, a "grand challenge" is defined to mean a major scientific and/or technological task that is compelling for both intellectual and practical reasons, that offers potential major breakthroughs on the basis of recent developments in science and technology, and that is likely to be feasible given current capabilities and a serious infusion of resources.
Representative terms from entire chapter: