Excellence in Research and Innovation for Humanity

International Science Index

Commenced in January 1999 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Abstract Count: 40418

Environmental and Ecological Engineering

The Effect of Arabic Gum on Polyethersulfone Membranes
In this paper, the effect of adding Arabic Gum (AG) to the dope solutions of polyethersulfone (PES) was studied. The aim of adding AG is to enhance the properties of ultrafiltration membranes such as hydrophilicity, porosity and selectivity. several AG loading (0.1-3.0 wt.%) in PES/ N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP) casting solutions were prepared to fabricate PES membranes using phase inversion technique. The surface morphology, hydrophilicity and selectivity of the cast PES/AG membranes were analyzed using scanning electron microscopy and contact angle measurements. The selectivity of the fabricated membranes was also tested by filtration of oil solutions (1 ppm) and found to show quite high removal efficiency. The effect of adding AG to PES membranes was found to increase the permeate flux and porosity as well as reducing surface roughness and the contact angle of the membranes.
Geographic Information Systems-Based Spatial Distribution and Evaluation of Selected Heavy Metals Contamination in Topsoils around Ecton Mining Area, Derbyshire, UK
The study area (Ecton mining area) is located in the southern part of the Peak District in Derbyshire, England. It is bounded by the River Manifold from the west. This area has been mined for a long period. As a result, huge amounts of potentially toxic metals were released into the surrounding area and are most likely to be a significant source of heavy metal contamination to the local soil, water and vegetation. In order to appraise the potential heavy metal pollution in this area, 37 topsoil samples (5-20cm depth) were collected and analysed for their total content of Cu, Pb, Zn, Mn, Cr, Ni and V using ICP (Inductively Coupled Plasma) optical emission spectroscopy. Multivariate Geospatial analyses using the GIS technique were utilised to draw geochemical maps of the metals of interest over the study area. A few hotspot points, areas of elevated concentrations of metals, were specified, which are presumed to be the results of anthropogenic activities. In addition, the soil’s environmental quality was evaluated by calculating the Mullers’ Geoaccumulation index (I geo), which suggests that the degree of contamination of the investigated heavy metals has the following trend: Pb>Zn>Cu>Mn>Ni=Cr=V. Furthermore, the potential ecological risk, using the enrichment factor (EF), was also specified. On the basis of the calculated amount for the enrichment factor (EF), the levels of pollution for the studied metals in the study area have the following order: Pb>Zn>Cu>Cr>V>Ni>Mn.
Impact of Combined Wave-Current-Tide-Surge-Mangrove Interaction on Wave Attenuation Characteristics during Aila Cyclone
This paper mainly focuses on how the wave-current-tide-surge mangrove interaction impacts the overall wave attenuation characteristics during extreme weather events. The synthetic experiments conducted as a part of the study using the wave model SWAN 41.01AB has exposed the sensitivity of wave attenuation characteristics to different bottom slopes in the presence of mangroves during an extreme wave climate. The study has also analyzed the efficacy of Avicennia marina mangrove species in attenuating the storm waves. The present work has performed a set of numerical simulations with integrated third generation wave models using the mosaic approach to wave modeling during the period of Aila cyclone from 23rd May 2009 to 26th May 2009. It has been reported that the mangrove forest has acted as a natural barrier by absorbing the fury of Aila cyclone to a great extent. The 2D spectral boundary information generated from the WAM is provided as input boundary conditions to the nested SWAN models with finite difference grid and subsequently to the high-resolution unstructured grid. Other inputs viz. tide, current and surge obtained from the hydrodynamic model ADCIRC has been used in the study to obtain the realistic wave forecasts. The model has satisfactorily simulated the high wave activity as reported during the tropical cyclone, Aila formed over the Bay of Bengal causing extensive damage to India and Bangladesh. The study has quantified the wave attenuation and transformation of spectral characteristics in the presence of mangroves during the storm period. The model results evidently prove that the tidal variation on the wave dissipation in a mangrove ecosystem has a profound effect on the wave attenuation characteristics due to varying wave levels submerging the root system of mangroves. A more complex scenario is observed considering the case of nonlinear interaction in the presence of time varying water level elevations and currents. It is understood that the selected mangrove species are quite efficient in attenuating extreme waves during cyclonic conditions.
Assessing the Role of Water Research and Development Investment towards Water Security in South Africa: During the Five Years Period (2009/10 - 2013/14)
The study aims at providing new insights regarding research and development (R&D) public and private activities based on the national R&D survey of the past five years. The main question of the study is what role does water R&D plays on water security; to then analyze what lessons could be extracted to improve the security of water through R&D. In particular, this work concentrates on three main aspects of R&D investments: (i) the level of expenditures, (ii) the sources of funding related to water R&D, and (iii) the personnel working in the field, both for the public and private sectors. The nonlinear regression approached will be used for data analysis based on secondary data gathered from the South African nation R&D survey conducted annually by the Centre for science, technology and innovation indicators (CeSTII).
Analyzing the Effect of the Akoben Programme on Environmental Performance of Gold Mining in Ghana: Case Study of a Mining Company
Environmental sustainability has been a global challenge worldwide, and for developing countries, the situation is even more threatening to public health especially in mining communities. Therefore, the need to make mining and manufacturing companies more environmentally responsible through policy and monitoring is urgent and at the heart of many governments. It is in view of this that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Ghana introduced the Akoben programme. The Akoben programme is an environmental performance and disclosure tool that evaluates the environmental performance of mining and manufacturing operations. Thus, with a five-color rating scheme - Gold, Green, Blue, Orange and Red ranging from excellent to poor, ratings are disclosed to the media and public every year to ensure participation, as awareness is strengthened. Analysis of over one hundred performance indicators from qualitative, quantitative and visual data form the basis of the Akoben rating. In this case study, the Akoben audit report card for a mining company was analyzed over a three-year period (2009-2011) based on a 7-crieria – legal requirement, hazardous on-site waste management, toxic emissions management, environmental monitoring and reporting, best practice environmental management, complaint management, and corporate social responsibility. Moreover, to assess key stakeholders’ perception of the programme’s suitability as an environmental performance rating and disclosure tool in Ghana, in-depth interviews and semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 15 respondents who were purposively selected from the Ghana Chamber of Mines, EPA, and the mining company. Findings revealed that overall environmental performance over the three-year period under review was poor (2009 – 56.6%; 2010 – 65.6%; 2011 – 59.1%) as each of the years recorded a Red color rating. Except for legal requirement, and corporate social responsibility that the company performed well by meeting the 100% criterion limit for the three years, the company failed in all other criteria. Specifically, both toxic and non-toxic waste emission discharges were major concerns as toxic parameters such as Arsenic, pH and Cyanide were exceeded. Environmental monitoring and reporting was also a problem for the company. Stakeholders identified inadequate publicity, absence of legal backing, and lack of incentives for outstanding performances as the main weaknesses of the programme. Even though, the stakeholders admit the Akoben programme has improved environmental performance of the mining companies because it puts their operations to check, it is clear from this case study that more can be achieved for environmental sustainability with this programmme, if adequate measures are put in place to ensure its continuity.
Performance Assessment of Recycled Alum Sludge in the Treatment of Textile Industry Effluent in South Africa
Textile industry is considered as one of the most polluting sectors in terms of effluent volume of discharge and wastewater composition, such as dye, which represents an environmental hazard when discharged without any proper treatment. A study was conducted to investigate the capability of the use of recycled alum sludge (RAS) as an alternative treatment for the reduction of colour, chemical oxygen demand (COD), total dissolved solids (TDS) and pH adjustment from dye based synthetic textile industry wastewater. The coagulation/flocculation process was studied for coagulants of Alum:RAS ratio of, 1:1, 2:1, 1:2 and 0:1. Experiments on treating the synthetic wastewater using membrane filtration and adsorption with corn cobs were also conducted. Results from the coagulation experiment were compared to those from adsorption with corn cobs and membrane filtration experiments conducted on the same synthetic wastewater. The results of the RAS experiments were also evaluated against standard guidelines for industrial effluents treated for discharge purposes in order to establish its level of compliance. Based on current results, it can be concluded that reusing the alum sludge as a low-cost material pretreatment method into the coagulation/flocculation process can offer some advantages such as high removal efficiency for disperse dye and economic savings on overall treatment of the industry wastewater.
Transient Freshwater-Saltwater Transition-Zone Dynamics in Heterogeneous Coastal Aquifers
The ever growing threat of saltwater intrusion has prompted the need to further advance the understanding of underlying processes related to SWI for effective water resource management. While research efforts have mainly been focused on steady state analysis, studies on the transience of saltwater intrusion mechanism remain very scarce and studies considering transient SWI in heterogeneous medium are, as per our knowledge, simply inexistent. This study provides for the first time a quantitative analysis of the effect of both inland and coastal water level changes on the transition zone under transient conditions in layered coastal aquifer. In all, two sets of four experiments were completed, including a homogeneous case, and four layered cases: case LH and case HL presented were two bi-layered scenarios where a low K layer was set at the top and the bottom, respectively; case HLH and case LHL presented two stratified aquifers with High K–Low K–High K and Low K–High K– Low K pattern, respectively. Experimental automated image analysis technique was used here to quantify the main SWI parameters under high spatial and temporal resolution. The findings of this study provide an invaluable insight on the underlying processes responsible of transition zone dynamics in coastal aquifers. The results show that in all the investigated cases, the width of the transition zone remains almost unchanged throughout the saltwater intrusion process regardless of where the boundary change occurs. However, the results demonstrate that the width of the transition zone considerably increases during the retreat, with largest amplitude observed in cases LH and LHL, where a low K was set at the top of the system. In all the scenarios, the amplitude of widening was slightly smaller when the retreat was prompted by instantaneous drop of the saltwater level than when caused by inland freshwater rise, despite equivalent absolute head change magnitude. The magnitude of head change significantly caused larger widening during the saltwater wedge retreat, while having no impact during the intrusion phase.
The Effect of Subsurface Dam on Saltwater Intrusion in Heterogeneous Coastal Aquifers
Saltwater intrusion (SWI) in coastal aquifers has become a growing threat for many countries around the world. While various control measures have been suggested to mitigate SWI, the construction of subsurface physical barriers remains one of the most effective solutions for this problem. In this work, we used laboratory experiments and numerical simulations to investigate the effectiveness of subsurface dams in heterogeneous layered coastal aquifer with different layering patterns. Four different cases were investigated, including a homogeneous (case H), and three heterogeneous cases in which a low permeability (K) layer was set in the top part of the system (case LH), in the middle part of the system (case HLH) and the bottom part of the system (case HL). Automated image analysis technique was implemented to quantify the main SWI parameters under high spatial and temporal resolution. The method also provides transient salt concentration maps, allowing for the first time clear visualization of the spillage of saline water over the dam (advancing wedge condition) as well as the flushing of residual saline water from the freshwater area (receding wedge condition). The SEAWAT code was adopted for the numerical simulations. The results show that the presence of an overlying layer of low permeability enhanced the ability of the dam to retain the saline water. In such conditions, the rate of saline water spillage and inland extension may considerably be reduced. Conversely, the presence of an underlying low K layer led to a faster increase of saltwater volume on the seaward side of the wall, therefore considerably facilitating the spillage. The results showed that a complete removal of the residual saline water eventually occurred in all the investigated scenarios, with a rate of removal strongly affected by the hydraulic conductivity of the lower part of the aquifer. The data showed that the addition of the underlying low K layer in case HL caused the complete flushing to be almost twice longer than in the homogeneous scenario.
Methodological Approach for the Prioritization of Different Micro-Contaminants as Potential River Basin Specific Pollutants in the Upper Tisza River Watershed
Taking into consideration the huge number of chemicals released into environment compartments a proper environmental risk assessment is difficult to predict due to the gap of legislation and improper toxicological assessment of chemicals compounds. In Romania as well as in many other countries from Europe, the chemical status of the water body is characterized taking into consideration the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the substances listed in Annex X. This Annex includes 45 substances from different classes of organic compounds and heavy metals for which AA-EQS and MAC-EQS have been established. For other compounds which are not included in Annex X, different methodologies to prioritize chemicals for risk assessment and monitoring has been proposed. These methodologies take into account Predicted No-Effect Concentrations (PNECs) of different classes of chemicals compounds available from existing risk assessments or from read-across models for acute toxicity to the standard test organisms such as Daphnia magna and Selenastrum capricornutum. Our work presents the monitoring results of 30 priority substances including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, halogenated compounds, plasticizers and heavy metals and other 34 substances from different classes of pesticides and pharmaceuticals which are not included on the list of priority substances, performed in the Upper Tisza River Watershed from Romania and Ukraine. The obtained monitoring data were used for the establishment of the list of more relevant pollutants in the studied area and to establish the potential river basin specific pollutants. For this purpose, two indicators such as the Frequency of exceedance and Extent of exceedance of Predicted no-Effect Concentration (PNEC) were evaluated. These two indicators are based on maximum environmental concentrations (MECs) of priority substances and for other pollutants is use statistically based averages of obtained measured concentration compared to the lowest PNEC thresholds. From the obtained results it can be concluded that polyaromatic hydrocarbon such as Fluoranthene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Benzo[b]fluorathene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, Benzo(g.h.i)perylene, Indeno(1.2.3-cd)-pyrene, heavy metals such as Cadmium, Lead and Nickel can be considered as river basin specific pollutants, their concentration exceeding the Annual Average EQS concentration. Other compounds such as estrone, estriol, 174-β estradiol, naproxen or some antibiotics (Penicillin G, Tetracycline or Ceftazidime) should be taken into account for a long monitoring, in some cases their concentration exceeding PNEC. Acknowledgements: This work is performed in the frame of NATO SfP Programme, Project no. 984440.
Climate Change and Dengue Transmission in Lahore, Pakistan
Dengue fever is one of the most alarming mosquito-borne viral diseases. Dengue virus has been distributed over the years exponentially throughout the world be it tropical or sub-tropical regions of the world, particularly in the last ten years. Changing topography, climate change in terms of erratic seasonal trends, rainfall, untimely monsoon early or late and longer or shorter incidences of either summer or winter. Globalization, frequent travel throughout the world and viral evolution has lead to more severe forms of Dengue. Global incidence of dengue infections per year have ranged between 50 million and 200 million; however, recent estimates using cartographic approaches suggest this number is closer to almost 400 million. In recent years, Pakistan experienced a deadly outbreak of the disease. The reason could be that they have the maximum exposure outdoors. Public organizations have observed that changing climate, especially lower average summer temperature, and increased vegetation have created tropical-like conditions in the city, which are suitable for Dengue virus growth. We will conduct a time-series analysis to study the interrelationship between dengue incidence and diurnal ranges of temperature and humidity in Pakistan, Lahore being the main focus of our study. We have used annual data from 2005 to 2015. We have investigated the relationship between climatic variables and dengue incidence. We used time series analysis to describe temporal trends. The result shows rising trends of Dengue over the past 10 years along with the rise in temperature & rainfall in Lahore. Hence this seconds the popular statement that the world is suffering due to Climate change and Global warming at different levels. Disease outbreak is one of the most alarming indications of mankind heading towards destruction and we need to think of mitigating measures to control epidemic from spreading and enveloping the cities, countries and regions.
Structure-Activity Relationship of Gold Catalysts on Alumina Supported Cu-Ce Oxides for CO and VOCs Oxidation
The catalytic oxidation of CO and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is considered as one of the most efficient way to reduce harmful emissions from various chemical industries. The effectiveness of gold-based catalysts for many reactions of environmental significance was proven during the past three decades. The aim of this work was to combine the favorable features of Au and Cu-Ce mixed oxides in the design of new catalytic materials of improved efficiency and economic viability for removal of air pollutants in waste gases from formaldehyde production. Supported oxides of copper and cerium with Cu/Ce molar ratio 2:1 and 1:5 ratios were prepared by wet impregnation of gamma-alumina. Gold (2 wt.%) catalysts were synthesized by deposition-precipitation method. Catalysts characterization was carried out by X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis, temperature programmed reduction and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. The catalytic activity in oxidation of CO, CH3OH and (CH3)2O was measured using continuous flow equipment with fixed bed reactor. Both Cu-Ce/alumina samples demonstrated similar catalytic behavior. Addition of gold caused significant enhancement of CO and methanol oxidation activity (100 % degree of CO and CH3OH conversion at about 60 and 140 oC, respectively). The composition of Cu-Ce mixed oxides affects considerably the performance of gold-based samples. Gold catalyst on Cu-Ce 1:5 exhibited higher activity for CO and CH3OH oxidation in comparison with Au on Cu-Ce 2:1. The better performance of Au/Cu-Ce 1:5 was related to the availability of highly dispersed gold particles and copper oxide clusters in close contact with ceria.
Influence of Atmospheric Circulation Patterns on Dust Pollution Transport during the Harmattan Period over West Africa
This study used Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) Aerosol Index (AI) and reanalysis dataset of thirty years (1983-2012) to investigate the influence of the atmospheric circulation on dust transport during the Harmattan period over WestAfrica using TOMS data. The Harmattan dust mobilization and atmospheric circulation pattern were evaluated using a kernel density estimate which shows the areas where most points are concentrated between the variables. The evolution of the Inter-Tropical Discontinuity (ITD), Sea surface Temperature (SST) over the Gulf of Guinea, and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index during the Harmattan period (November-March) was also analyzed and graphs of the average ITD positions, SST and the NAO were observed on daily basis. The Pearson moment correlation analysis was also employed to assess the effect of atmospheric circulation on Harmattan dust transport. The results show that the departure (increased) of TOMS AI values from the long-term mean (1.64) occurred from around 21st of December, which signifies the rich dust days during winter period. Strong TOMS AI signal were observed from January to March with the maximum occurring in the latter months (February and March). The inter-annual variability of TOMSAI revealed that the rich dust years were found between 1984-1985, 1987-1988, 1997-1998, 1999-2000, and 2002-2004. Significantly, poor dust year was found between 2005 and 2006 in all the periods. The study has found strong north-easterly (NE) trade winds were over most of the Sahelianregion of West Africa during the winter months with the maximum wind speed reaching 8.61m/s inJanuary.The strength of NE winds determines the extent of dust transport to the coast of Gulf of Guinea during winter. This study has confirmed that the presence of the Harmattan is strongly dependent on theSST over Atlantic Ocean and ITD position. The locus of the average SST and ITD positions over West Africa could be described by polynomial functions. The study concludes that the evolution of near surface wind field at 925 hpa, and the variations of SST and ITD positions are the major large scale atmospheric circulation systems driving the emission, distribution, and transport of Harmattan dust aerosols over West Africa. However, the influence of NAO was shown to have fewer significance effects on the Harmattan dust transport over the region.
Determination of the Effective Economic and/or Demographic Indicators in Classification of European Union Member and Candidate Countries Using Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis
Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis (PLSDA) is a statistical method for classification and consists a classical Partial Least Squares Regression (PLSR) in which the dependent variable is a categorical one expressing the class membership of each observation. PLSDA can be applied in many cases when classical discriminant analysis cannot be applied. For example, when the number of observations is low and when the number of independent variables is high. When there are missing values, PLSDA can be applied on the data that is available. Finally, it is adapted when multicollinearity between independent variables is high. The aim of this study is to determine the economic and/or demographic indicators, which are effective in grouping the 28 European Union (EU) member countries and 7 candidate countries (including potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Kosova) by using the data set obtained from database of the World Bank for 2014. Leaving the political issues aside, the analysis is only concerned with the economic and demographic variables that have the potential influence on country’s eligibility for EU entrance. Hence, in this study, both the performance of PLSDA method in classifying the countries correctly to their pre-defined groups (candidate or member) and the differences between the EU countries and candidate countries in terms of these indicators are analyzed. As a result of the PLSDA, the value of percentage correctness of 100 % indicates that overall of the 35 countries is classified correctly. Moreover, the most important variables that determine the statuses of member and candidate countries in terms of economic indicators are identified as 'external balance on goods and services (% GDP)', 'gross domestic savings (% GDP)' and 'gross national expenditure (% GDP)' that means for the 2014 economical structure of countries is the most important determinant of EU membership. Subsequently, the model validated to prove the predictive ability by using the data set for 2015. For prediction sample, %97,14 of the countries are correctly classified. An interesting result is obtained for only BiH, which is still a potential candidate for EU, predicted as a member of EU by using the indicators data set for 2015 as a prediction sample. Although BiH has made a significant transformation from a war-torn country to a semi-functional state, ethnic tensions, nationalistic rhetoric and political disagreements are still evident, which inhibit Bosnian progress towards the EU.
Improved Performance of Polyethylene Flat Sheet Membranes Through the Coating of Graphene Nanoplatelets for Direct Contact Membrane Distillation: A Reverse Osmosis Wastewater Treatment Application
Management of reverse osmosis (RO) brine has become a major area of research due to the environmental concerns associated with it. Direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD) has displayed potential of enhanced water recovery from highly saline solutions, hence reducing the volume of this RO brine. One of the major drawbacks associated with the operation of DCMD systems is the fouling of the membranes which impairs their performance. In this study, we aimed to coat hydrophobic polyethylene (PE) membrane used within the DCMD system with graphene allowing for an enhanced hydrophobicity. This, in turn, resulted in an improved performance of the system. Graphene solutions of 0.08 to 0.3 wt% were prepared using Graphene Nanoplatelets of thickness 2-10 nm dissolved in 99.9% ethanol solution that was sonicated for 1 hour. Afterwards, the solution was poured onto the surface of the PE membrane through the use of a vacuum filtration system. The membrane was then dried at 60oC for 30 minutes. The surface of this membrane was characterized through contact angle (CA), liquid entry pressure (LEP), mean pore size, tensile strength, porosity, scanning electron microscope (SEM) and infrared (IR) methods then compared to the virgin membrane. The results of the study indicated an improved hydrophobicity of the membranes as a result of this nanoparticle modification. The potential of this method in the recovery of fouled membranes was studied for the DCMD system performance in terms of both flux and salt rejection. The results displayed great promise in the recovery of these membranes where they were tested for the treatment of RO brine of salinity 56,500 ppm.
An Experimental Approach to the Influence of Tipping Points and Scientific Uncertainties in the Success of International Fisheries Management
The Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery have been considered as the archetype of an overfished and mismanaged fishery. This crisis has demonstrated the role of public awareness and the importance of the interactions between science and management about scientific uncertainties. This work aims at investigating the policy making process associated with a regional fisheries management organization. We propose a contextualized computer-based experimental approach, in order to explore the effects of key factors on the cooperation process in a complex straddling stock management setting. Namely, we analyze the effects of the introduction of a socio-economic tipping point and the uncertainty surrounding the estimation of the resource level. Our approach is based on a Gordon-Schaefer bio-economic model which explicitly represents the decision making process. Each participant plays the role of a stakeholder of ICCAT and represents a coalition of fishing nations involved in the fishery and decide unilaterally a harvest policy for the coming year. The context of the experiment induces the incentives for exploitation and collaboration to achieve common sustainable harvest plans at the Atlantic bluefin tuna stock scale. Our rigorous framework allows testing how stakeholders who plan the exploitation of a fish stock (a common pool resource) respond to two kinds of effects: i) the inclusion of a drastic shift in the management constraints (beyond a socio-economic tipping point) and ii) an increasing uncertainty in the scientific estimation of the resource level.
Large Herbivores Benefit Plant Growth via Diverse and Indirect Pathways in a Temperate Grassland
Large herbivores affect plant growth not only through their direct, consumptive effects, but also through indirect effects that alter species interactions. Indirect effects can be either positive or negative, therefore having the potential to mitigate or enhance the direct impacts of herbivores. However, until recently, we know considerably less about the indirect effects than the direct effects of large herbivores on plants, and few studies have explored multiple indirect pathways simultaneously. Here, we investigated how large domestic herbivores, cattle (Bos taurus), can shape population growth of an intermediately preferred forb species, Artemsisa scoparia, through diverse pathways in a temperate grassland of northeast China. We found that, although exposure to direct consumption of cattle, A. scoparia growth was not inhibited, but rather showed a significant increase in the grazed than ungrazed areas. This unexpected result was due to grazing-induced multiple indirect, positive effects overwhelmed the direct, negative consumption effects of cattle on plant growth. The much more intensive consumption on the dominant Leymus chinensis grass, ground litter removal, and increases in ant nest abundance induced by cattle, exerted significant indirect, positive effects on A. scoparia growth. These pathways benefited A.scoparia growth by lessening interspecific competition, mitigating negative effects of litter accumulation, and increasing soil nutrient availability, respectively. Our results highlight the need to integrate indirect effects into the traditional food web theory, which is based primary on direct, trophic linkages, to fully understand community organization and dynamics. Large herbivores are important conservation and management targets, our results suggest that these mammals should be managed with the understanding that they can affect primary producers through diverse paths.
Ecosystem Engineering Strengthens Bottom-up and Weakens Top-down Effects via Trait-Mediated Indirect Interactions
Ecosystem engineering is a powerful force shaping community structure and ecosystem function. Yet, very little is known about the mechanisms by which engineers affect vital ecosystem processes like trophic interactions. Here, we examine the potential for a herbivore ecosystem engineer, domestic sheep, to affect trophic interactions between the web-building spider Argiope bruennichi, its grasshopper prey Euchorthippus spp., and the grasshoppers’ host plant Leymus chinensis. By integrating small- and large-scale field experiments, we demonstrate that: 1) moderate sheep grazing changed the structure of plant communities by suppressing strongly interacting forbs within a grassland matrix; 2) this change in plant community structure drove interaction modifications between the grasshoppers and their grass host plants and between grasshoppers and their spider predators, and 3) these interaction modifications were entirely mediated by plasticity in grasshopper behavior. Overall, ecosystem engineering by sheep grazing strengthened bottom-up effects and weakened top-down effects via trait-mediated interactions, resulting in a nearly two-fold increase in grasshopper densities. Interestingly, the grasshopper behavioral shifts which reduced spider per capita predation rates in the microcosms did not translate to reduced spider predation rates at the larger system scale because increased grasshopper densities offset behavioral effects at larger scales. Our findings demonstrate that 1) ecosystem engineering can strongly alter trophic interactions, 2) such effects can be driven by cryptic trait-mediated interactions, and 3) the relative importance of trait- versus density effects as measured by microcosm experiments may not reflect the importance of these processes at realistic ecological scales due to scale-dependent interactions.
Water Quality and Coastal Management Profile Assessment of Puerto Galera Bay, Philippines
As global industrialization progresses, the environment remains to be at risk of disturbances brought by developments of cities and communities. Impacts of flourishing industries such as tourism require rapid growth of establishments and may threaten ecosystems and natural resources. Puerto Galera as a biosphere reserve and declared as the Center of the World’s Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity is on the brink of ecological deterioration as tourism further develops in its coastal areas. Apparently, attempts were initiated to establish a baseline for designation of protection in the economic and coastal marine zones of Puerto Galera but continuity of its implementation and coordination of concerned units remains deficient. Indications of eutrophication have been observed based on water quality analysis although parameter values still comply with the national standards for coastal waters. Water quality data, biodiversity and hydrodynamic information, gathered from studies, and local government units were analysed to assess the condition of the coast as well as acting policies implemented by the local authorities. Sources of contaminants were also located in its three main communities, and their shores wherein in recommendations for installing wastewater treatment facilities and further improvement of policies of waste discharge must be addressed. With a conceptual framework proposed in the study, a comprehensive data analysis and coordinated management are necessary to form an integrated coastal management for further protection and preservation of the sustainable coastal marine ecosystem of Puerto Galera.
Modelling the Influence of Meteorological Forcing on Water-Level in the Head Bay of Bengal
Water-level information along the coast is very important for disaster management, navigation, planning shoreline management, coastal engineering and protection works, port and harbour activities, and for a better understanding of near-shore ocean dynamics. The water-level variation along a coast attributes from various factors like astronomical tides, meteorological and hydrological forcing. The study area is the Head Bay of Bengal which is highly vulnerable to flooding events caused by monsoons, cyclones and sea-level rise. The study aims to explore the extent to which wind and surface pressure can influence water-level elevation, in view of the low-lying topography of the coastal zones in the region. The ADCIRC hydrodynamic model has been customized for the Head Bay of Bengal, discretized using flexible finite elements and validated against tide gauge observations. Monthly mean climatological wind and mean sea level pressure fields of ERA Interim reanalysis data was used as input forcing to simulate water-level variation in the Head Bay of Bengal, in addition to tidal forcing. The output water-level was compared against that produced using tidal forcing alone, so as to quantify the contribution of meteorological forcing to water-level. The average contribution of meteorological fields to water-level in January is 5.5% at a deep-water location and 13.3% at a coastal location. During the month of July, when the monsoon winds are strongest in this region, this increases to 10.7% and 43.1% respectively at the deep-water and coastal locations. The model output was tested by varying the input conditions of the meteorological fields in an attempt to quantify the relative significance of wind speed and wind direction on water-level. Under uniform wind conditions, the results showed a higher contribution of meteorological fields for south-west winds than north-east winds, when the wind speed was higher. A comparison of the spectral characteristics of output water-level with that generated due to tidal forcing alone showed additional modes with seasonal and annual signatures. Moreover, non-linear monthly mode was found to be stronger than during tidal simulation, all of which point out that meteorological fields do not cause much effect on the water-level at periods less than a day and that it induces non-linear interactions between existing modes of oscillations. The study signifies the role of meteorological forcing under fair weather conditions and points out that a combination of multiple forcing fields including tides, wind, atmospheric pressure, waves, precipitation and river discharge is essential for efficient and effective forecast modelling, especially during extreme weather events.
Bioprotective Role of Soil Borne Bacillus Strain against Selected Fungal Pathogens of Agriculture Relevance
The agriculture productivity losses due to microbial pathogens have been a serious issue in Pakistan and rest of the world. Present work was designed to isolate soil borne microorganisms having the antagonistic ability against notorious phytopathogens. From the initial collection of 23 bacterial isolates, two potent strains of Bacillus were screened on the basis of their comparative efficacy against devastating fungal pathogens. The strains AK-1 and AK-5 showed excellent inhibitory indexes against the majority of tested fungal strains. It was noted that both strains of Bacillus showed significant biocontrolling activity against Aspergillus flavus, Fusarium moniliforme, Colletotricum falcatum, Botrytis cinerea, Aspergillus niger, Fusarium oxysporum, Phythopthora capsici and Rhizopus oryzae. The strain AK-1 was efficient to suppress Aspergillus species and Rhizopus oryzae while AK-5 expressed significant antagonistic activity against Fusarium, Botrytis, and Colletotricum species. On the basis of in vitro assay, it can be postulated that the Bacillus strains AK-1 and AK-5 can be used as a bio-protective agent against various plant diseases. In addition, their applications as natural pesticides could be very helpful to prevent the adverse effects of chemical pesticides.
Tropical Squall Lines in Brazil: A Methodology for Identification and Analysis Based on ISCCP Tracking Database
The ISCCP-Tracking database offers an opportunity to study physical and morphological characteristics of Convective Systems based on geostationary meteorological satellites. This database contains 26 years of tracking of Convective Systems for the entire globe. Then, Tropical Squall Lines which occur in Brazil are certainly within the database. In this study, we propose a methodology for identification of these systems based on the ISCCP-Tracking database. A physical and morphological characterization of these systems is also shown. The proposed methodology is firstly based on the year of 2007. The Squall Lines were subjectively identified by visually analyzing infrared images from GOES-12. Based on this identification, the same systems were identified within the ISCCP-Tracking database. It is known, and it was also observed that the Squall Lines which occur on the north coast of Brazil develop parallel to the coast, influenced by the sea breeze. In addition, it was also observed that the eccentricity of the identified systems was greater than 0.7. Then, a methodology based on the inclination (based on the coast) and eccentricity (greater than 0.7) of the Convective Systems was applied in order to identify and characterize Tropical Squall Lines in Brazil. These thresholds were applied back in the ISCCP-Tracking database for the year of 2007. It was observed that other systems, which were not Squall Lines, were also identified. Then, we decided to call all systems identified by the inclination and eccentricity thresholds as Linear Convective Systems, instead of Squall Lines. After this step, the Linear Convective Systems were identified and characterized for the entire database, from 1983 to 2008. The physical and morphological characteristics of these systems were compared to those systems which did not have the required inclination and eccentricity to be called Linear Convective Systems. The results showed that the convection associated with the Linear Convective Systems seems to be more intense and organized than in the other systems. This affirmation is based on all ISCCP-Tracking variables analyzed. This type of methodology, which explores 26 years of satellite data by an objective analysis, was not previously explored in the literature. The physical and morphological characterization of the Linear Convective Systems based on 26 years of data is of a great importance and should be used in many branches of atmospheric sciences.
Biofouling Control during the Wastewater Treatment in Self-Support Carbon Nanotubes Membrane: Role of Low Voltage Electric Potential
This work will explore the influence of low voltage electric field, both alternating (AC) and direct (DC) currents, on biofouling control to highly electrically conductive self-supporting carbon nanotubes (CNT) membranes at conditions which encourage bacterial growth. A mutant strain of Pseudomonas putida S12 was used a model bacterium. The antibiofouling studies were performed with flow-through mode connecting an electric circuit in resistive mode. Major emphasis was placed on AC due to its ability of repulsing and inactivating bacteria. The observations indicate that an AC potential >1500 mV, 1 kHz frequency, 100 Ω external resistance on ground side and pulse wave above the offset (+0.45) almost completely prevented attachment of bacteria (>98.5%) and bacterial inactivation (95.3±2.5%). Findings suggest that at the conditions applied, direct electron transfer might be dominant in a decrease of cell viability. AC resulted more effective than DC, both in terms of biofouling reduction compared to cathodic DC and in terms of cell inactivation compared to anodic DC. This electrically polarized CNT membranes offer a viable antibiofouling strategy to hinder biofouling and simplify membrane care during filtration.
The Long-Run Impact of Financial Development on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in India: An Application of Regime Shift Based Cointegration Approach
The present study investigates the long-run impact of financial development, energy consumption and economic growth on greenhouse gas emissions for India, in presence of endogenous structural breaks, over a period of 1971-2013. Autoregressive distributed lag bounds testing procedure and Hatemi-J threshold cointegration technique have been used to test the variables for cointegration. ARDL bounds test did not confirm any cointegrating relationship between the variables. The threshold cointegration test establishes the presence of long-run impact of financial development, energy use and economic growth on greenhouse gas emissions in India. The results reveal that the long-run relationship between the variables has witnessed two regime shifts, in 1978 and 2002. The empirical evidence shows that financial sector development and energy consumption in India degrade environment. Unlike previous studies, this paper finds no statistical evidence of long-run relationship between economic growth and environmental deterioration. The study also challenges the existence of environmental Kuznets curve in India.
A Case Study on the Drivers of Household Water Consumption for Different Socio-Economic Classes in Selected Communities of Metro Manila, Philippines
The main purpose of this study is to examine whether there is a significant relationship between socio-economic class and household water supply demand, through determining or verifying the factors governing water use consumption patterns of households from a sampling from different socio-economic classes in Metro Manila, the national capital region of the Philippines. This study is also an opportunity to augment the lack of local academic literature due to the very few publications on urban household water demand after 1999. In over 600 Metro Manila households, a rapid survey was conducted on their average monthly water consumption and habits on household water usage. The questions in the rapid survey were based on an extensive review of literature on urban household water demand. Sample households were divided into socio-economic classes A-B and C-D. Cluster analysis, dummy coding and outlier tests were done to prepare the data for regression analysis. Subsequently, backward stepwise regression analysis was used in order to determine different statistical models to describe the determinants of water consumption. The key finding of this study is that the socio-economic class of a household in Metro Manila is a significant factor in water consumption. A-B households consume more water in contrast to C-D families based on the mean average water consumption for A-B and C-D households are 36.75 m3 and 18.92 m3, respectively. The most significant proxy factors of socio-economic class that were related to household water consumption were examined in order to suggest improvements in policy formulation and household water demand management.
Estimating Industrial Pollution Load in Phnom Penh by Industrial Pollution Projection System
Manufacturing plays an important role in job creation around the world. In 2013, it is estimated that there were more than half a billion jobs in manufacturing. In Cambodia in 2015, the primary industry occupies 26.18% of the total economy, while agriculture is contributing 29% and the service sector 39.43%. The number of industrial factories, which are dominated by garment and textiles, has increased since 1994, mainly in Phnom Penh city. Approximately 56% out of total 1302 firms are operated in the Capital city in Cambodia. Industrialization to achieve the economic growth and social development is directly responsible for environmental degradation, threatening the ecosystem and human health issues. About 96% of total firms in Phnom Penh city are the most and moderately polluting firms, which have contributed to environmental concerns. Despite an increasing array of laws, strategies and action plans in Cambodia, the Ministry of Environment has encountered some constraints in conducting the monitoring work, including lack of human and financial resources, lack of research documents, the limited analytical knowledge, and lack of technical references. Therefore, the necessary information on industrial pollution to set strategies, priorities and action plans on environmental protection issues is absent in Cambodia. In the absence of this data, effective environmental protection cannot be implemented. The objective of this study is to estimate industrial pollution load by employing the Industrial Pollution Projection System (IPPS), a rapid environmental management tool for assessment of pollution load, to produce a scientific rational basis for preparing future policy direction to reduce industrial pollution in Phnom Penh city. Due to lack of industrial pollution data in Phnom Penh, industrial emissions to the air, water and land as well as the sum of emissions to all mediums (air, water, land) are estimated using employment economic variable in IPPS. Due to the high number of employees, the total environmental load generated in Phnom Penh city is estimated to be 476.980.93 tons in 2014, which is the highest industrial pollution compared to other locations in Cambodia. The result clearly indicates that Phnom Penh city is the highest emitter of all pollutants in comparison with environmental pollutants released by other provinces. The total emission of industrial pollutants in Phnom Penh shares 55.79% of total industrial pollution load in Cambodia. Phnom Penh city generates 189,121.68 ton of VOC, 165,410.58 ton of toxic chemicals to air, 38,523.33 ton of toxic chemicals to land and 28,967.86 ton of SO2 in 2014. The results of the estimation show that Textile and Apparel sector is the highest generators of toxic chemicals into land and air, and toxic metals into land, air and water, while Basic Metal sector is the highest contributor of toxic chemicals to water. Textile and Apparel sector alone emits 436,015.84 ton of total industrial pollution loads. The results suggest that reduction in industrial pollution could be achieved by focusing on the most polluting sectors.
Quantifying the Difference in Perceived Thermal Touch among the Surfaces of Pine, Oak and Ceramic Tile
Materials like those that metal has a higher value of thermal conductivity and therefore feel colder to touch than wood at a normal room temperature. Here, we quantify this difference in perceived thermal sensation between untreated pine, and oak and ceramic tile surfaces using psychophysical experiments. Twenty-four participants (9 female, 16 male, Age, 27+- 5 years) took part in the experiment. Results showed that pine surface at 20 ºC feel equal in coldness sensation (point of subjective equality, PSE) to that of ceramic tile surface, which temperature is 22.76 ºC. The discrimination threshold for coldness sensation between pine and ceramic tile surfaces was found to be 3.66 ºC. Similarly, pine surface at 20 ºC and oak surface at 20.9 ºC evoked equal sensation of coldness and, here the discrimination threshold was found to be 2.05 ºC. These results offer some insight to quantify the potential for reducing the energy consumption in buildings: the increased use of the wood material in building construction that has good tactile warmth could provide an indirect path for sustainable energy saving without compromising the thermal comfort of inhabitants. We propose that the point of subjective equality and discrimination threshold as engineering measures to evaluate thermal quality of construction materials and discuss the possible applications of thermal touch quantification in built environment.
Evaluating of Chemical Extractants for Assessment of Bioavailable Heavy Metals in Polluted Soils
Availability of a metal is characterised by its quantity transgressing from soil into different extractants or by its content in plants. In literature, the terms 'available forms of compounds' and 'mobile' are often considered as equivalents of the term 'accessible' to plants. Rapid and a sufficiently reliable method for defining the accessible for plants forms turns out to be their extraction through different extractants, imitating the functioning of the root system. As a criterion for the pertinence of the extractant to this purpose usually serves the significant statistic correlation between the extracted quantities of the element from soil and its content in plants. The aim of this work was to evaluate the effectiveness of various extractions (DTPA-TEA, AB-DTPA, Mehlich 3, 0.01 M CaCl₂, 1M NH₄NO₃) for the determination of bioavailability of heavy metals in industrially polluted soils from the metallurgical activity near Plovdiv and Kardjali, Bulgaria. Quantity measurements for contents of heavy metals were performed with ICP-OES. The results showed that extraction capacity was as follows: Mehlich 3>ABDTPA>DTPA-TEA>CaCl₂>NaNO₃. The content of the mobile form of heavy metals depends on the nature of metal ion, the nature of extractant and pH. The obtained results show that CaCl₂ extracts a greater quantity of mobile forms of heavy metals than NH₄NO₃. DTPA-TEA and AB-DTPA are capable of extracting from the soil not only the heavy metals participating in the exchange processes but also the heavy metals bound in carbonates and organic complexes, as well as bound and occluded in oxide and secondary clay minerals. AB-DTPA extracts a bit more heavy metals than DTPA-TEA. The darker color of the solutions obtained with AB-DTPA indicates that considerable quantities organic matter are being destructed. A comparison of the mobile forms of heavy metals extracted from clean and highly polluted soils has revealed that in the polluted soils the greater portion of heavy metals exists in a mobile form. High correlation coefficients are obtained between the metals extracted with different extractants and their total content in soil (r=0.9). A positive correlation between the pH, soil organic matter and the extracted quantities of heavy metals has been found. The results of correlation analysis revealed that the heavy metals extracted by DTPA-TEA, AB-DTPA, Mehlich 3, CaCl₂ and NaNO₃ correlated significantly with plant uptake. Significant correlation was found between DTPA-TEA, AB-DTPA, and CaCl₂ with heavy metals concentration in plants. Application of extracting methods contains chelating agents would be recommended in the future research on the availability of heavy metals in polluted soils.
Effect of the Nature of the Precursor on the Performance of Cu-Mn Catalysts for CO and VOCs Oxidation
The catalytic oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde is an important industrial process in which the waste gas in addition to CO contains methanol and dimethyl ether (DME). Evaluation of the possibility of removing the harmful components from the exhaust gasses needs a more complex investigation. Our previous work indicates that supported Cu-Mn oxide catalysts are promising for effective deep oxidation of these compounds. This work relates to the catalyst, comprising copper-manganese spinel, coated on carrier γ-Al₂O₃. The effect of preparation conditions on the active component composition and activity behavior of the catalysts is discussed. Different organometallic compounds on the base of four natural amino acids (Glycine, Alanine, Valine, Leucine) as precursors were used for the preparation of catalysts with Cu/Mn molar ratio 1:5. X-Ray and TEM analysis were performed on the catalyst’s bulk, and surface composition and the specific surface area was determined by BET method. The results obtained show that the activity of the catalysts increase up to 40% although there are some specific features, depending on the nature of the amino acid and the oxidized compound.
Improved Water Productivity by Deficit Irrigation: Implications for Water Saving in Orange, Olive and Vineyard Orchards in Arid Conditions of Tunisia
Field experiments on deficit irrigation (DI) were performed in Médenine, Tunisia on drip-irrigated olive, orange and grapevine orchards during 2013 and 2014. Four irrigation treatments were compared: full irrigation (FI), which was irrigated at 100% of ETc for the whole season; two deficit irrigation (DI) strategies -DI75 and DI50- which received, respectively, 25 and 50% less water than FI; and traditional farming management (FM) - with water input much less than actually needed. The traditional farming (FM) applied 11, 18, 30 and 33% less water than the FI treatment, respectively, in orange, grapevine and table and oil olive orchards, indicating that the farmers practices represent a form of unintended deficit irrigation. Yield was reduced when deficit irrigation was applied and there were significant differences between DI75, DI50 and FM treatments. Significant differences were not observed between DI50 and FM treatments even though numerically smaller yield was observed in the former (DI50) as compared to the latter (FM). The irrigation water productivity (IWP) was significantly affected by irrigation treatments. The smallest IWP was recorded under the FI treatment, while the largest IWP was obtained under the deficit irrigation treatment (DI50). The DI50 and FM treatments reduced the economic return compared to the full treatment (FI), while the DI75 treatment resulted in a better economic return in respect to DI50 and FM. Full irrigation (FI) could be recommended for olive, orange and grapevine irrigation under the arid climate of Tunisia. Nevertheless, the treatment DI75 can be applied as a strategy under water scarcity conditions in commercial olive, orange and grapevine orchards allowing water savings up to 25% but with some reduction in yield and net return. The results would be helpful in adopting deficit irrigation in ways that enhance net financial returns.
Using Groundwater Modeling System to Create a 3-D Groundwater Flow and Solute Transport Model for a Semiarid Region: A Case Study of the Nadhour Saouaf Sisseb El Alem Aquifer, Central Tunisia
The Nadhour Saouaf Sisseb El Alem (NSSA) system comprises some of the most intensively exploited aquifers in central Tunisia. Since the 1970s, the growth in economic productivity linked to intensive agriculture in this semiarid region has been sustained by increasing pumping rates of the system’s groundwater. Exploitation of these aquifers has increased rapidly, ultimately causing their depletion. With the aim to better understand the behavior of the aquifer system and to predict its evolution, the paper presents a finite difference model of the groundwater flow and solute transport. The model is based on the Groundwater Modeling System (GMS) and was calibrated using data from 1970 to 2010. Groundwater levels observed in 1970 were used for the steady-state calibration. Groundwater levels observed from 1971 to 2010 served to calibrate the transient state. The impact of pumping discharge on the evolution of groundwater levels was studied through three hypothetical pumping scenarios. The first two scenarios replicated the approximate drawdown in the aquifer heads (about 17 m in scenario 1 and 23 m in scenario 2 in the center of NSSA) following an increase in pumping rates by 30% and 50% from their current values, respectively. In addition, pumping was stopped in the third scenario, which could increase groundwater reserves by about 7 Mm3/year. NSSA groundwater reserves could be improved considerably if the pumping rules were taken seriously.