MORE Science at UTSA

MORE Science Research


Statement About Research Projects

Below are participating faculty mentors and potential projects that you can choose from for this summer 2006. You are encouraged (but not required) to contact potential faculty mentors to discuss your interests and possible projects (including those listed here or any other you may develop with your mentor). You may do this prior to submitting the application or after you have been accepted into the program.

All accepted students should expect to attend a field trip to West Texas and New Mexico in May of 2006. All expenses for this trip will be paid by MORE Science at UTSA.

While most internships will be completed over a 10-week period during the summer months, the timing is flexible and may be altered to fewer hours over more weeks, in the summer or during the academic year. Dispersement of the $2500 stipend will be spread over the whole period.

Each funded student will be required to submit a final report on the project (due upon completion of the stipend-term) and to participate in a student colloquium in the Spring semester following the summer internship. Students will also be required to participate in two afternoons of public outreach in science (e.g. talking to boy or girl scouts, visiting schools, etc) in the following year.

All students are encouraged to submit abstracts for national or local meetings—funding for student travel to conferences is available through MORE Science. Students are also encouraged to continue their research beyond the summer period, and may receive the stipend for consecutive summers.

 

Year 2008

UTSA

Professor Steve Ackley (stephen.ackley@utsa.edu)

Analyses of Digital Aerial Images of the Bering Sea Ice Cover

Images of the Bering Sea ice cover, taken during helicopter seal surveys in winter 2007, will be analyzed for properties of the ice cover such as ice concentration, ice type, floe size, snow covered area and ridging characteristics. From these analyses regional maps of the parameters will be constructed and compared, using GIS tools, with satellite remote sensing images taken at the same time. Climate-related parameters such as the areal-averaged albedo and ice thickness will be derived from the joint aerial and satellite imagery data sets.

Analyses of Antarctic Sea Iice for Physical, Chemical, and Biological Properties

Ice core data from the recent Antarctic expedition is undergoing analyses for oxygen isotopes, nutrient chemistry, salinity, chlorophyll a and other parameters. The data will be analyzed to examine the relationships between sea ice biogeochemistry and physical properties. Oxygen isotopes for example, provide information on the contribution of flooded snow to the sea ice column. Conceptual models of ice growth and metamorphism will be compared to the physico-chemical and biological profiles for possible validation or revision.

Dr. Alan Dutton (alan.dutton@utsa.edu)

Post-Audit of an Oil Plume Contaminant Assessment

A 1997 environmental site assessment supported by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) estimated the subsurface position of a crude-oil spill discharging to a coastal creek (Dutton and others, 2002). The assessment included an estimate of the volume of oil in place in the plume (~12,300 bbl) and suggested a number of remediation alternatives. Additional investigations largely verified the findings of the 1997 site assessment and developed a final remedial design. The remedial design was to install a barrier to prevent oil from discharging to the creek and includes long-term periodic maintenance to remove oil that accumulates in the interception trench. The remediation was begun in 2000; by 2004 about ~295 bbl of oil had been removed.

The objectives of the proposed student project are to:

  • Obtain details on annual or quarterly volume of oil removed from the site and evaluate whether discharge been steady or has it been going down
  • Reconcile the remediation production trends with the conceptual model of the oil plume, and any other new data
  • Obtain data on how much State money has been spent to date on assessment and remediation
  • Evaluate whether the remediation approach is proving cost-effective in terms of to-date and projected costs

As part of this study, the MORE Science student will learn about groundwater hydrology, contaminant site assessment, soil-vapor surveys and other site investigation techniques, and various approaches for groundwater and site remediation. There is potential for the student’s report, submitted to the RRC, to influence the future direction of remediation at this site.

Dr. Kyle Murray (kyle.murray@utsa.edu)

Modeling Nutrient Loading to the Dechutes River, Oregon

On-site wastewater treatment systems (OWS) are designed so that effluent is released in the unsaturated zone, and nutrients/contaminants are potentially degraded prior to reaching the water table. In many cases the nutrients (e.g., N and P) found in OWS effluent are not sorbed, or completely degraded; thus, they are transported through the subsurface and eventually discharged to surface water. High nutrient concentrations in surface water may exceed EPA Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL) or result in eutrophication. When planning for rural developments, served by OWS, it is necessary to anticipate nutrient contamination problems by developing reasonable hydrologic and water quality models at the watershed scale. This has been the focus of a joint project by UTSA, Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and the USGS for the last two years.

The objective of the proposed student project is to: apply several screening models to understand "which models are most appropriate?" and "which watershed characteristics are most important for predicting nutrient loads in the Dechutes River?" The models range in complexity from simple algebraic equations with 3 variables to GIS based raster models with 10 variables. The study area for this project is the Deschutes River watershed in Oregon, which has a shallow groundwater table, significant groundwater-surface water interaction, and a high density of existing/proposed OWS.

A MORE Science student would: (1) add data to our existing collection (2) estimate nutrient loads with various models (3) expand existing geodatabase of geographically-referenced data and GIS maps (4) assist with preparation of journal article explaining the application of these screening models.

Mapping Potential Groundwater Well Biofouling Problems in Texas Aquifers

Groundwater wells are commonly affected by biofouling, which leads to irregular water quality, clogging of pumps, and deterioration of screens. Well rehabilitation and treatment of biofouled wells is a major expense for municipal water suppliers. Therefore, we have been studying biofouling in wells of the Queen City aquifer and the Carrizo aquifer, while testing methods for treating biofouling at the laboratory scale. Our research goal is to better understand the geochemical and biological factors contributing to biofouling, as well as designing the most effective treatment methods. Because biofouling seems to be common in many sandstone and siltstone aquifers, this may only be the beginning of a never-ending study of biofouling in south Texas aquifers. The objective of the proposed student project is to identify aquifer segments that are most prone to biofouling based on existing geochemical and water quality data.

A MORE Science student would: (1) review our previous geochemical and water quality studies, identifying key parameters indicating biofouling (2) continue a literature search for reported biofouling problems in Texas aquifers and add locations to a GIS geodatabase (3) query the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) database for aquifer segments "prone" to biofouling and (4) add locations of prone areas to GIS geodatabase and make maps of results.

Other projects related to water resources and GIS could be developed to meet the interests and needs of the student. Contact Dr. Murray if interested in brainstorming.

Dr. Debajyoti Paul (debajyoti.paul@utsa.edu)

Stable Oxygen Isotope Analyses of Antarctic Sea Ice

Ice core data from the recent Antarctic expedition (PI Ackley) will be analyzed for oxygen isotopes. The data will be used to determine information on the contribution of flooded snow to the sea ice column and build conceptual models of ice growth. Student will gather literature data on oxygen isotopic composition of Antarctic ice to be used for comparison with our result. The student is expected to set up analytical protocol to measure oxygen isotope ratios in sea ice by utilizing CO2-water equilibration technique in continuous-flow isotope ratio mass spectrometry. Following this, stable isotope analyses of more than 200 samples will be performed and utilized for modeling.

Dr. Hatim Sharif (hatim.sharif@utsa.edu)

Collection of Flood Data for San Antonio

San Antonio is in a unique position, leading to high recurrence of significant flash flooding. Close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico (approx 150 miles southeast of San Antonio) allows very moist and unstable boundary layer air to enter the area. Stalled fronts or other boundaries and the Balcones Escarpment (a 100-600 m rise in terrain to the immediate northwest of San Antonio) serve as mechanisms to focus moisture convergence and mechanical lift. Close proximity to the subtropical jet (year round) and polar jet (cool season) provide additional destabilization and bulk ascent through passing short wave troughs and jet streaks. When all of these factors combine, flash floods are likely. In addition, decaying tropical cyclones can produce significant rainfall over the area. A student is needed to collect rainfall and runoff data about 2008 floods from published papers and reports and present data in spreadsheet format. Simple statistical analysis of the data will be done.

GIS Analysis Over Bexar County-1 and GIS Analysis Over Bexar County-2

One student with some GIS expertise is needed to compile watershed data in Bexar County. The domain of the study will be the San Antonio Metropolitan Area. Digital sources of watershed characteristics data will be sought from the City of San Antonio. The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) maintains an extensive GIS database of the city. Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data of the watershed are being obtained from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Land use/land cover data will be collected from available sources. The geo-referenced data will be stored, manipulated and output for use with hydrologic models using both ARC/INFO GIS package, in conjunction with the Watershed Modeling System (WMS) interface developed for GSSHA by the Engineering Computer Graphics Laboratory at Brigham Young University.

Influenza and Climate

It is well known that influenza outbreaks show strong seasonality with most of the cases taking place during the cold season. However, regional differences in patterns of influenza-related morbidity are poorly understood. Identifying these patterns can potentially help prediction and prevention of this epidemic. I need a student to help analyze the monthly data related to pneumonia and influenza among selected US populations. The work entails literature review and analysis of weather and disease data. Simple statistical analysis will be needed. The study will include compilation of a report summarizing the findings.

Extreme Weather Mortalities in Texas

Extreme weather affects human health in various ways. These health impacts and be divided into Physical health impacts and Mental health impacts. These health impacts occur during and after the flood disaster has occurred. Physical health impacts include deaths, injuries and illness. Many people die as a result of extreme weather in Texas every year – there were 62 flood related deaths in 2008. The two deadliest weather disasters are floods and heat wave. The work entails literature review and analysis of weather related mortalities in Texas. Simple statistical analysis will be needed. The study will include compilation of a report summarizing the findings.

Dr. Hongjie Xie (hongjie.xie@utsa.edu)

Mapping and Analyzing the Martian Highlands Bedrocks (Outcrops)

Numerous exposures of bedrocks (outcrops) have been identified using THEMIS data in a variety of southern highlands terrains, including crater floors and intercrater plains. This study will use THEMIS, and other high spatial and spectral resolution images available (MOC, HRSC, HiRISE, OMEGA, CRISM) to characterize the composition, thermophysical properties, and morphology of these rocks. The purpose of this study is determine the mineralogical composition of the rocks, and detail spatial relationships between defined units, and evaluate possible igneous and sediment processes to recover the Martian history of evolution.

Weather Radar and Rain Gauge Based Rainfall Comparison and Statistical Analysis

This project will lead the student to understand the principal of rainfall measurements, data processing, rainfall variability, validation, and statistical evaluation. A former graduate student has installed a 8 raingauge network in the Government Canyon State Park. The student will be trained and will be the person in charge for rain gauge calibration, data collections, data processing, and analysis in comparison with the radar rainfall measurements.

Mitchell Lake Water Depth, Water Quality, and Algae Detection

This project will focus on Mitchell Lake, in the City South economic development region, as an environmental education harbor through the acquisition of environmental parameters such as lake storage capacity, sediment deposition profiles, and water quality. Two projects will be performed at Mitchell Lake: 1) to use remote sensing (sonar), GPS, and GIS to determine the water depth, lake profile, sediment accumulation, and lake storage capacity, and 2) to collect and evaluate water quality using spectral profiles and algal concentrations based upon seasonal changes. The MORE student will help a graduate student who will lead the effort, in many different ways such as data collection, processing and data analysis.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)

Potential projects at Southwest Research Institute exist in the following areas:
Laboratory Sedimentology, Planetary Geology, Remote Sensing, Structural Geology, and Volcanology.

For detail information, please contact Dr. Donald Hooper (dhooper@swri.org) or Dr. Marius Necsoiu (mnecsoiu@swri.edu).


Year 2007

UTSA

Professor Steve Ackley (stephen.ackley@utsa.edu)

Analogues of Paleo Sea Ice Processes on Mars and Present Day's Polar Sea Ice on Earth

High resolution imagery of Mars has shown sea ice-like features in the Elysium plains area. By a comparative examination of imagery from Earth that shows the processes of sea ice ridging, rafting and drift, we will analyze Mars imagery for similar features. Analogs, particularly of the rafting and ridging processes will be examined to see if information on sea ice properties such as thickness and mechanical strength can be determined for the Mars past sea ice.

Analyses of Antarctic Sea Ice for Physical, Chemical, and Biological Properties

Cores obtained from Antarctic sea ice have been analyzed for properties such as structure, salinity, chlorophyll a and oxygen isotopes. The project will consist of putting this information into a common data base and examining the correlations between the different properties, to see for example, if ice biology is associated with particular aspects of ice structure, or is found preferentially in the top, middle or bottom of the ice. Conceptual models of ice growth and metamorphism will be developed to account for any observed correlation between the physio-chemical and biological processes.

Comparison of Ship-Based Observations with Satellite Remote Sensing of Antarctic Sea Ice

Ship observations have been structured to give properties of the ice cover such as ice concentration, ice thickness, snow depth and amount of ridging. Satellite remote sensing is being used to analyze for some of these properties, such as the ice concentration and snow depth. Most of the remote sensing products have had little validation. We will attempt to compare ship-derived measurements of these properties to compare with satellite remote sensing taken at the same time, to provide estimates of the validity or errors of the remote sensing in surveying these ice properties.

Dr. Alan Dutton (alan.dutton@utsa.edu)

Making an Improved Map of the Potentiometric Surface of the Edwards Aquifer

This proposed MORE science project focuses on the mapping of the potentiometric surface of the groundwater in the aquifer. The potentiometric surface indicates the amount of potential energy stored in the water in the aquifer. Groundwater tends to move or flow from an area of high energy to an area of low energy; that is, from an area where the potentiometric surface has a higher elevation to where it is lower. To help better understand the hydrogeology of the aquifer, since 1998 the EAA has been collecting detailed synoptic water-level measurements with which to map the potentiometric surface of the aquifer; synoptic measurements have been collected quarterly. Data density differ between two main parts of the aquifer: the recharge zone Improved Map of the Potentiometric Surface 2 and the artesian zone. Also, the general gradient, i.e., the direction and inclination of the potentiometric surface, also is different between these two zones.

A student with average-to-good abilities for learning software should be able to quickly master Excel and Surfer. The project will have a medium level of success in getting a student more experience in looking at hydrogeologic data and familiarity with mapping scientific data. The project will have a great success if the student can show EAA how to better process its synoptic data to efficiently produce better potentiometric surface maps.

The MORE Science Student will have access to a PC and plotter in the Hydro-GIS lab at the UTSA Center for Water Resources. The PC has installed Excel, Surfer, and any other software needed for this project.

Tasks for the MORE Science Student will include:

  1. Obtain synoptic water level data from the EAA.
  2. Take part in tutorials with Dr. Dutton on basic elements of hydrogeology, with a focus on the meaning of hydraulic head, potentiometric surfaces, and unconfined versus confined aquifers.
  3. Review rules for contouring elevation maps.
  4. Prepare data in Excel for mapping.
  5. Map hydraulic-head data for the unconfined and confined parts of the aquifer and visualize the difficulty of making the map "look right" when using computer contouring. This step of the process gets the MORE Science Student familiar with using the Surfer software.
  6. Develop method for making an improved version of a single continuous potentiometric surface of the aquifer.
  7. Prepare report to EAA and prepare presentation to MORE Science Seminar.
Dr. Rupali Datta (rupali.datta@utsa.edu)

A Novel Phytoremediation Method Using Vetiver Grass to Cleanup Lead-Based Paint Contaminated Soils

The principal source of human exposure to environmental lead in the U.S. is lead-based paints in pre-1978 houses. In San Antonio alone, there are 340,532 pre-1978 housing units, which comprise 57% of the total housing units in the city. Children living in these houses are at the greatest risk of exposure, as crawling on the ground and playing in the backyards can result in ingestion and inhalation of soil- and dust-borne lead. Several investigations have found that natural and anthropogenic factors, such as weathering, chipping, scraping, sanding and sand blasting of painted pre-1978 structures induce human exposure to lead via soils or house dust. Therefore, increasing efforts to cleanup soil lead in residential areas have translated into remarkable reductions in lead concentrations in house dust. Our objective is to reduce lead concentrations in soil and house dust in residential areas to levels specified by the USEPA through phytoremdiation. We plan to accomplish our objective by pursuing the following specific aims: (1) Examine the relationship between soil speciation of lead and phytoavailable lead as a function of soil properties; (2) Evaluate the use of a perennial, metal accumulating grass, vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) in reducing human bioavailability of soil lead; (3) Evaluate the use of a biodegradable chelating agent, ethylenediaminedisuccinate (EDDS) to promote lead phytoremediation in soil systems with naturally high lead retention capacity.

Dr. Judy Haschenburger (judy.haschenburger@utsa.edu)

Mapping Streambed Configuration

Coarse-grained river channels often display characteristic streambed morphology that consists of alternating deeps (pools) and shallows (riffles) adjacent to areas of sediment buildup (bars). This morphology often adjusts in response to flood events that are capable of moving sediment. The aim of this project is to characterize streambed morphology in Carnation Creek, which is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. To address this aim, the streambed morphology will be mapped over approximately 4 weeks during the summer and a morphological map will be produced using GIS. As time allows this map will be compared to previously collected mapping data to quantify the change in streambed morphology resulting from about 200 floods. This is a good project for students with a general interest in rivers and a desire to gain field experience and use GIS. Field expenses (transportation, housing, and food) will be covered by a research grant.

Dr. Lance Lambert (lance.lambert@utsa.edu)

Paleontology Related Topics

including:

  • Paleoecology of a large sponge reef/biostrome
  • Identification and paleoecologic clustering of ammonoids from Timor (or Mexico, or Guadalupe Mountains National Park, or even San Antonio)
  • Morphometric analysis of ornamentation in the Conodonta
  • Silicified fossils from Guadalupe Mountains National Park, west Texas
  • Microfossil biostratigraphy and paleoecology of the subsurface Caddo Fm, north Texas
  • Population analysis of Cymatoceras hilli (a Cretaceous nautiloid), Bexar Co., south Texas

Exact project descriptions can often be worked out with the individual student’s primary interests.

Dr. Debajyoti Paul (debajyoti.paul@utsa.edu)

Paleoclimate Related Topics

TBA

Dr. Dibyendu Sarkar (dibyendu.sarkar@utsa.edu)

Studying the Geochemistry of Heavy Metals in Soils and their Impacts on Environmental Quality

Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium etc., are toxic and can get into soils from a variety of sources, both natural and anthropogenic. Our lab (the Environmental Geochemistry Lab or the EGL) studies the impacts of those heavy metals on the quality of our environment using a combination of lab, greenhouse, and field studies aided with a variety of state-of-the-science analytical equipments. We also study the risk to human health and to the ecological system from exposure to such heavy metals, and prescribe efficient, but cost-effective remedial measures. A summer intern will learn: (1) how to perform chemical analysis of metals in environmental samples, (2) how to collect and interpret environmental data, and (3) how to perform risk analysis.

Dr. Hatim Sharif (hatim.sharif@utsa.edu)

Potential Benefits of Pervious Concrete for Better Management of Quality and Quantity of Storm Runoff

As more available land area gets paved over, a larger amount of rainwater ends up falling on impervious surfaces such as parking lots, driveways, and streets rather than infiltrating into the soil. This may cause several problems including erosion, flash floods, water table depletion, and pollution of rivers, lakes, as rainwater flowing over paved transports contaminants such as oil, grease, and chemical fertilizers. A simple solution to this problem is to use pervious concrete, a material that most of the structural qualities of concrete pavement while inducing infiltration and reducing storm water. A student is need to perform a literature review of the use of pervious concrete worldwide with focus on areas having similar climates as San Antonio. Simple analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the approach will be done. Potential impacts on water qualities will be assessed.

Collection of Flood Data for San Antonio

San Antonio is in a unique position, leading to high recurrence of significant flash flooding. Close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico (approx 150 miles southeast of San Antonio) allows very moist and unstable boundary layer air to enter the area. Stalled fronts or other boundaries and the Balcones Escarpment (a 100-600 m rise in terrain to the immediate northwest of San Antonio) serve as mechanisms to focus moisture convergence and mechanical lift. Close proximity to the subtropical jet (year round) and polar jet (cool season) provide additional destabilization and bulk ascent through passing short wave troughs and jet streaks. When all of these factors combine, flash floods are likely. In addition, decaying tropical cyclones can produce significant rainfall over the area. A student is needed to collect rainfall and runoff data about 1998 and 2002 floods from published papers and reports and present data in spreadsheet format. Simple statistical analysis of the data will be done.

GIS Analysis over Bexar County

Two students with some GIS expertise is need to compile watershed data in Bexar county. The domain of the study will be the San Antonio Metropolitan Area. Digital sources of watershed characteristics data will be sought from the City of San Antonio. The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) maintains an extensive GIS database of the city. Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data of the watershed are being obtained from the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Land use/land cover data will be collected from available sources The geo-referenced data will be stored, manipulated and output for use with hydrologic models using both ARC/INFO GIS package, in conjunction with the Watershed Modeling System (WMS) interface developed for GSSHA by the Engineering Computer Graphics Laboratory at Brigham Young University.

Dr. Hongjie Xie (hongjie.xie@utsa.edu)

Mapping and Analyzing the Martian Highlands Bedrocks (Outcrops)

Numerous exposures of bedrocks (outcrops) have been identified using THEMIS data in a variety of southern highlands terrains, including crater floors and intercrater plains. This study will use THEMIS, and other high spatial and spectral resolution images available (MOC, HRSC, HiRISE, OMEGA, CRISM) to characterize the composition, thermophysical properties, and morphology of these rocks. The purpose of this study is determine the mineralogical composition of the rocks, and detail spatial relationships between defined units, and evaluate possible igneous and sediment processes to recover the Martian history of evelotion.

Validating AMSR-E Sea Ice Products Using Ship-Based Sea Ice Observations during the 2006 Antarctic Expedition

During the December 2006 Antarctic expedition, we did sea ice observations when the icebreaker ODEN transit from Chile to McMurdo Station. This data will be used to validate the AMSR-E derived sea ice products: ice concentration, sea ice temperature products.

Weather Radar and Rain Gauge Based Rainfall Comparison and Statistical Analysis

This project will lead the student to understand the principal of rainfall measurements, data processing, rainfall variability, validation, and statistical evaluation.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)

Potential projects at Southwest Research Institute exist in the following areas:
Environmental Science, Geochemistry, Geological Engineering, Geophysics, Hydrology, Planetary Geology, Remote Sensing, Rock Mechanics, Structural Geology, and Volcanology.

For detail information, please contact Dr. Marius Necsoiu (mnecsoiu@swri.edu).

UT Austin

Dr. Sean M. Buckley (buckley@csr.utexas.edu)

GIS and Remote Sensing in Support of Radar Interferometry Deformation Analyses

This project will integrate ancillary remote sensing data products with radar interferometry measurements at several actively deforming study sites. The student should have sufficient GIS experience to incorporate remote sensing data sets such as high-resolution optical imagery, GPS deformation measurements and fault maps with InSAR subsidence measurements. The final products will include movies of ground motion over places such as Houston, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona and GIS material published on the web.

Radar interferometry (InSAR) is a satellite microwave remote sensing technique used to measure centimeter-scale ground movement. The technique is used to observe deformation associated with earthquakes, volcanic activity, glaciers as well as oil, gas and water extraction.

Using NEXRAD Radar Data to Improve the Interpretation of Satellite Measurements of Houston Ground Motion

This project will investigate the use of NEXRAD radar data archived at the National Climatic Data Center to identify atmospheric artifacts in radar interferograms of Houston, Texas. The student should have sufficient GIS experience to use the NCDC Java NEXRAD tools and other GIS software to manipulate NEXRAD radar data, export it to other data formats and combine with radar interferometry measurements.

Radar interferometry (InSAR) is a satellite microwave remote sensing technique used to measure centimeter-scale ground movement. The technique is used to observe deformation associated with earthquakes, volcanic activity, glaciers as well as oil, gas and water extraction. There are two primary limitations of InSAR: (1) scattering surface changes result in decorrelation of the radar images over time, and (2) atmospheric artifacts associated with the ionosphere and troposphere, particularly the spatial and temporal variations in water vapor, mask deformation signals.

Dr. Zong-liang Yang (liang@mail.utexas.edu)

Future Climate Trend in Houston and Implications for Air Quality

The project will involve 1) downloading, from an publicly available website, output of the NCAR global climate model projections for the 21st century; 2) extracting precipitation and surface air temperature (and other meteorological variables) from the model output; 3) analyzing the climate trend in Houston for different scenarios and discussing implications for air quality (e.g. stagnation conditions); 4) writing a report to summarize the results. The project will provide the student an opportunity to read the climate change literature, understand climate model output, practise basic programming and graphic skills, and gain experience in scientific research.

Texas State University, San Marcos

Dr. Le Wang (Lewang@txstate.edu)

Urban Population Estimation from Remote Sensing Data

Knowledge of the size and spatial distribution of human population in an urban area is essential for understanding and responding to myriad social, economic, and environment problems such as emergency response and environment impact assessment. Remote sensing, coupled with other source of data, provides an opportunity to estimate the urban population at a large spatial coverage and in a timely fashion. What will you learn from this project: 1) Basic remote sensing skills; 2) how remote sensing can be coupled with GIS data, and socioeconomic data; 3) methods for field data collection, e.g., GPS and survey.


Year 2006

UTSA

Dr. Alan Dutton (alan.dutton@utsa.edu)

Hydrology Related Topic

TBA

Dr. Huade Guan (huade.guan@utsa.edu)

The Effect of Large-Scale Climate Variability Effect on Agricultural Water Use in Texas

Precipitation and evapotranspiration (ET) are two major water balance components. It is found that precipitation is often related to the large-scale climate variability. However, it is not clear whether potential ET is also tele-connected to large-scale climate variability. Potential ET directly determines agricultural irrigation water use. If the tele-connection is found for the potential ET, it will provide very useful information for predictive agricultural water management. What will you learn from this study? 1) Large scale climate variability (e.g., ENSO), 2) Potential ET basics and its quantification, 3) Statistic analysis, and 4) Climate data downloading.

Dr. Weldom Hammond (weldon.hammond@utsa.edu)

Hydrology Related Topic

TBA

Dr. Judy Haschenburger (judy.haschenburger@utsa.edu)

Sources and Sinks of River Gravels

During a flood sediment that moves along the bed of a river comes from different areas of the streambed, travels a range of distances based on grain size, and ends up deposited in different places of the streambed. The aim of this project is to identify preferred sources and sinks of river gravels by mapping the locations where most gravel originates and is deposited over a series of 160 flood events. To address this aim, an existing database of magnetically tagged river gravels will be analyzed using GIS. This is a good project for students with a general interest in rivers and a desire for hands-on experience using GIS.

How Flashy are Flash Floods in Texas?

Texas is known for floods that happen very quickly once it starts to rain. The aim of this project is to determine whether flash flood characteristics vary within central Texas. To address this aim, streamflow records from a range of rivers located in the region will be analyzed using standard hydrological analysis, and the resulting hydrologic variables will be mapped using GIS to determine regional differences. This is a good project for students with a general interest in hydrology and a desire for an introduction to GIS.

Dr. Lance Lambert (lance.lambert@utsa.edu)

Paleontology Related Topic

TBA

Dr. Debajyoti Paul (debajyoti.paul@utsa.edu)

Paleoclimate Related Topics - Project 1

Study of ancient soils (paleosols) that provide a record of ancient soil formation process, and paleoenvironment such as hydrologic setting, prevailing climate, CO2 concentration, and vegetation present during the soil formation process. This information is recorded in the stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon in the carbonate rich soils and is routinely used as proxies for paleoclimate reconstruction. Currently we are conducting isotopic investigation on Cretaceous and Quaternary paleosols from Texas.

Paleoclimate Related Topics - Project 2

Carbon isotopic composition of peat, and paleoclimate reconstruction. Environmental variations during vegetation results in various isotope fractionation in various plants. d13C profiles in peat bogs could be a valuable tool to reconstruct past climates. Currently research is ongoing on soil and plant samples from Big Bend National park. Students may also gain first-hand experience with analytical techniques for precise stable isotope measurements, and help in (currently undergoing) refining analytical procedures.

Paleoclimate Related Topics - Project 3

One area of interest is geochemistry of Ocean Island Basalts and plume related magmatism. Other area of interest is balancing the heat flow budget (in particular the radiogenic heat produced by decay of U, Th, K in the mantle) in the Earth’s mantle, and the consequence for mantle convection models.

Dr. Feng Qi (feng.qi@utsa.edu)

GIS for Soil Mapping

Soil survey in the United States has traditionally been a manual process. With the aid of GIS and Artificial Intelligence technologies, soil mapping can be conducted in a more accurate and efficient way. The new approach uses a knowledge-based approach for automated soil mapping. This project focuses on one aspect of this new soil mapping approach: acquiring knowledge for the knowledge-based inference. The student is expected to learn the basics of GIS, GIS online data warehousing, soil mapping, and a fast-growing research area called Data Mining.

Dr. Dibyendu Sarkar (dibyendu.sarkar@utsa.edu)

Studying the Geochemistry of Heavy Metals in Soils and their Impacts on Environmental Quality

Heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium etc., are toxic and can get into soils from a variety of sources, both natural and anthropogenic. Our lab (the Environmental Geochemistry Lab or the EGL) studies the impacts of those heavy metals on the quality of our environment using a combination of lab, greenhouse, and field studies aided with a variety of state-of-the-science analytical equipments. We also study the risk to human health and to the ecological system from exposure to such heavy metals, and prescribe efficient, but cost-effective remedial measures. A summer intern will learn: (1) how to perform chemical analysis of metals in environmental samples, (2) how to collect and interpret environmental data, and (3) how to perform risk analysis.

Dr. Hatim Sharif (hatim.sharif@utsa.edu)

Hydrometeorological Analysis of the 1998 Flooding in San Antonio

San Antonio, a city of about 1.5 million people, is located in the middle of the San Antonio River Basin. San Antonio is one of the most flash-flood prone regions in North America. This is a proposal for a study that will employ remote sensing of precipitation and rainfall/runoff modeling to examine the meteorology, precipitation, and runoff during the flooding event of 1998 in the San Antonio. Specific objectives of the study are: (1)Examine the meteorological conditions that existed prior to and during the events, (2) perform quality control of radar rainfall products of the events and compare it to estimates from the rain gauge network, (3) collect and organize watershed characteristics and flood data from the City and SARA using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools, and (4) apply a state of the art physically-based distributed parameter hydrologic model to simulate some of the flooding events.

Hydrometeorological Analysis of the 2002 Flooding in San Antonio

San Antonio, a city of about 1.5 million people, is located in the middle of the San Antonio River Basin. San Antonio is one of the most flash-flood prone regions in North America. This is a proposal for a study that will employ remote sensing of precipitation and rainfall/runoff modeling to examine the meteorology, precipitation, and runoff during the flooding event of 2002 "the big flood" in the San Antonio. Specific objectives of the study are: (1) Examine the meteorological conditions that existed prior to and during the events, (2) perform quality control of radar rainfall products of the events and compare it to estimates from the rain gauge network, (3) collect and organize watershed characteristics and flood data from the City and SARA using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools, and (4) apply a state of the art physically-based distributed parameter hydrologic model to simulate some of the flooding events.

Dr. Hongjie Xie (hongjie.xie@utsa.edu)

Monitoring CO Emission from Texas and Okalahoma Grass Fires Using MOPITT Satellite Measurements

Since later December, grass fires cross Texas have killed three people, burned more than 250,000 acres and destroyed at least 250 homes. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gaseous by product from the burning of fossil fuels, in industry and automobiles, as well as burning of forests and grasslands. CO emission from grass fires considerably impacts air quality. Estimates and mapping of CO plumes and their movement are of important in terms of constraint on uncertain ground-based fire emission and its environmental impacts. Measurements Of Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) is an instrument on board NASA’s Terra earth observation system (EOS) satellite, which was launched on December 18, 1999. MOPITT has provided, for the first time, derived CO measurements from space over several years. This project will use the MOPITT level 2 data to map CO and its time series changes. What will you learn from this study? 1) Basic remote sensing concepts, 2) Basic knowledge about MOPITT sensor and its data, 3) Reading and understanding scientific papers, 4) Downloading and processing the data, 5) Prepare a final report.

Mapping Maritan Minerals and Rocks Using OMEGA/Mars Express Hyperspectral Imagery

Since January 2004, OMEGA/Mars Express hyperspectral data has revealed a diverse and complex Martian surface mineralogy. The important findings, together with Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES), Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), and in-situ observations from Mars Exploration Rovers, include but not limited to (1) hydrated sulfates; (2) iron oxides and oxhydroxides; (3) hydrated alteration phyllosilicates and sheet silicates; and (4) mafic and ultramafic rocks containing pyroxene and olivine. These results are extremely improving our knowledge regarding the Martian surface mineralogy and lithology, and the geological history of Mars. In this summer project, student will expect to study on one particular area (for mineral compositions) or one particular mineral (for its distribution in many areas) by using the OMEGA imagery. What will you learn from this study? 1) Scientific paper reading and understanding, 2) Basic knowledge about Mars and its geology and geomorphology, 3) Basic knowledge about the OMEGA sensor and its imagery, 4) Entire procedure from OMEGA data downloading, pre-processing, atmospheric correction, to spectral matching with spectral libraries, and 5) write a report on how you did and what you get.

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI)

Potential projects at Southwest Research Institute exist in the following areas:
Environmental Science, Geochemistry, Geological Engineering, Geophysics, Hydrology, Planetary Geology, Remote Sensing, Rock Mechanics, Structural Geology, and Volcanology.

For detail information, please contact Dr. Marius Necsoiu (mnecsoiu@swri.edu).

UT Austin

Dr. Sean M. Buckley (buckley@csr.utexas.edu)

GIS and Remote Sensing in Support of Radar Interferometry Deformation Analyses

This project will integrate ancillary remote sensing data products with radar interferometry measurements at several actively deforming study sites. The student should have sufficient GIS experience to incorporate remote sensing data sets such as high-resolution optical imagery, GPS deformation measurements and fault maps with InSAR subsidence measurements. The final products will include movies of ground motion over places such as Houston, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona and GIS material published on the web.

Radar interferometry (InSAR) is a satellite microwave remote sensing technique used to measure centimeter-scale ground movement. The technique is used to observe deformation associated with earthquakes, volcanic activity, glaciers as well as oil, gas and water extraction.

Using NEXRAD Radar Data to Improve the Interpretation of Satellite Measurements of Houston Ground Motion

This project will investigate the use of NEXRAD radar data archived at the National Climatic Data Center to identify atmospheric artifacts in radar interferograms of Houston, Texas. The student should have sufficient GIS experience to use the NCDC Java NEXRAD tools and other GIS software to manipulate NEXRAD radar data, export it to other data formats and combine with radar interferometry measurements.

Radar interferometry (InSAR) is a satellite microwave remote sensing technique used to measure centimeter-scale ground movement. The technique is used to observe deformation associated with earthquakes, volcanic activity, glaciers as well as oil, gas and water extraction. There are two primary limitations of InSAR: (1) scattering surface changes result in decorrelation of the radar images over time, and (2) atmospheric artifacts associated with the ionosphere and troposphere, particularly the spatial and temporal variations in water vapor, mask deformation signals.

Modeling Houston Aquifers and Ground Motion with MODFLOW and Satellite Radar Interferometry

This project will use existing ground water models and the recently developed MODFLOW subsidence package to investigate land subsidence associated with ground water pumping from Houston-area aquifers. The student should have experience in groundwater hydrology and using MODFLOW.

Radar interferometry (InSAR) is a satellite microwave remote sensing technique used to measure centimeter-scale ground movement. My research group has created InSAR-derived deformation maps of Houston and would like to: (1) compare our results with subsidence predicted with existing aquifer deformation models, and (2) improve aquifer model parameters with InSAR deformation measurements.

Texas State University, San Marcos

Dr. Le Wang (Lewang@txstate.edu)

Urban Population Estimation from Remote Sensing Data

Knowledge of the size and spatial distribution of human population in an urban area is essential for understanding and responding to myriad social, economic, and environment problems such as emergency response and environment impact assessment. Remote sensing, coupled with other source of data, provides an opportunity to estimate the urban population at a large spatial coverage and in a timely fashion. What will you learn from this project: 1) Basic remote sensing skills; 2) how remote sensing can be coupled with GIS data, and socioeconomic data; 3) methods for field data collection, e.g., GPS and survey.

 


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