New environmental sensing and monitoring system tested and evaluated at Virginia Tech

From VT News

JANUARY 8, 2019

On the edge of Virginia Tech’s campus, on a stretch of farmland that few students ever visit, small boxes are whirling through the season’s change to winter, collecting and transmitting data that will make it easier for scientists to monitor and collect data across landscapes.

This field test of an environmental sensing system is one step in a project between the College of Natural Resources and EnvironmentInnovative Wireless Technologies, a leading wireless mesh network company headquartered ...

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People Need Lakes and Lakes Need People

After Hurricane Florence hit the southeast coast last month, Claytor Lake, hundreds of miles away in southwestern Virginia, took a hit.  More than fifteen tons of debris ended up in the lake – everything from the usual ‘flotsam and jetsam’ to at least one toilet, a mannequin, and an empty boat.

This part of Virginia is not home to very many lakes, and ...

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Hog Farmers Scramble to Drain Waste Pools Ahead Of Hurricane Florence

Just inland from the North Carolina coast, right in the path of Hurricane Florence, there’s an area where there are many more pigs than people. Each big hog farm has one or more open-air “lagoons” filled with manure, and some could be vulnerable to flooding if the hurricane brings as much rain as feared.

Katy Langley lives downstream from ...

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We’re Drowning In Plastic Trash. Jenna Jambeck Wants To Save Us

When a huge floating gyre of plastic waste was discovered in the Pacific in the late 1980s, people were shocked. When whales died and washed ashore with stomachs full of plastic, people were horrified. When photographs of beaches under knee-deep carpets of plastic trash were published, people were disgusted.

Though some of it came from ships, most, presumably, was from land. ...

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‘Dead Zone’ is largest ever in Gulf of Mexico

From National Geographic

A record-breaking, New Jersey-sized dead zone was measured by scientists in the Gulf of Mexico this week—a sign that water quality in U.S. waterways is worse than expected.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced today that this summer’s dead zone is the largest ever recorded, measuring 8,776 miles. This is more expansive than the nearly 8,200 square-mile area that was forecast in July. Since monitoring began 32 years ago, the average ...

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Examining the connection between human health and environment in Central Appalachia

Research team (from left): Emily Satterwhite, Susan West Marmagas, Leigh-Anne Krometis, Linsey Marr, Korine Kolivras, and Julia Gohlke.

From VT News

AUG 2 2017 | Spend enough time driving through Central Appalachia, and you’ll see lush green mountain ranges brimming with diverse plant and animal species. Within those mountains, though, you can also find some of the most dramatic human health disparities in the nation.

Past studies going back to the 1970s indicate heightened incidences of ...

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Ill winds: open burning of munitions waste at arsenals contaminates local air and land

From ProPublica

by Abrahm Lustgarten

The Pentagon’s handling of munitions and their waste has poisoned millions of acres, and left Americans to guess at the threat to their health.

Shortly after dawn most weekdays, a warning siren rips across the flat, swift water of the New River running alongside the Radford Army Ammunition Plant. Red lights warning away boaters and fishermen flash from the plant, the nation’s largest supplier of propellant for artillery and the source of explosives for almost every American ...

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The extinction crisis is far worse than you think

From CNN

The extinction crisis is far worse than you think. In all of Earth’s history, there have been five mass extinction events. You can see them charted here. Now, we’re on the verge of the sixth extinction. And three-quarters of all species could vanish. Imagine three out of four species that were common are gone. This is the first time humans have caused anything like this.

Experience this interactive report at CNN

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Toxic algae blooms are spreading

From National Geographic

When sea lions suffered seizures and birds and porpoises started dying on the California coast last year, scientists weren’t entirely surprised. Toxic algae is known to harm marine mammals.

But when researchers found enormous amounts of toxin in a pelican that had been slurping anchovies, they decided to sample fresh-caught fish. To their surprise, they found toxins at such dangerous levels in anchovy meat that the state urged people to immediately stop eating them.

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Tony Timpano’s paper in Science: Mountaintop mining & crop irrigation can increase salinity in freshwater, impacting diversity

From VT News

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 2, 2016 – Aquatic life can suffer when high concentrations of dissolved salts enter freshwater ecosystems, a process known as salinization.

An international, multi-institutional team of researchers that includes a Virginia Tech graduate student recommends ways that humans can protect freshwater from salts in a recent article in the journal Science.

The recommendations include the use of less water for agricultural practices, less salt for road de-icing, less discharge or sequestering salts during ...

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