Ground Water Seep Meter Is Ready for Prime Time
Groundwater can be an important source of associated contaminants in coastal waters and estuaries – but it’s difficult to track submarine groundwater discharge. Working with Dr. Paul Lee and SDII Engineering of Tampa, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has developed a new instrument to help estimate ground water flow beneath surface water bodies. The “Seepmeter” allows for the precise measurement of small water volumes moving into benthic sediments or discharging from sediments beneath surface water bodies.
The Seep Meter consists of one to three deployable 12-inch PVC collection domes, which are set into bottom sediments and connected via tubing to an extremely sensitive bi-directional flow measurement sensor capable of detecting flows as low as 200 microliters per minute. An onboard data logger records the seepage data which can then be uploaded into a PC for analysis.
Nature Makes Us Nicer
A new study from the University of Rochester indicates that just looking at nature scenes or having living plants in a laboratory setting makes people more caring, community-oriented, and generous.
The findings highlight the importance of creating green spaces in cities to build a stronger sense of community among residents. The study also suggests that people should take advantage of opportunities to get away from built environments and, when inside, they should surround themselves with plants, natural objects, and images of the natural world. "The more you appreciate nature, the more you can benefit," said lead author Netta Weinstein.
In three of the studies, participants were shown a selection of images. Half viewed cityscapes; the others observed landscapes. In a fourth study, participants worked in a lab with or without plants. They all answered questionnaires assessing the importance of aspirations: wealth, fame, connectedness and community.
Across all four studies, people exposed to natural elements rated close relationships and community higher. “Exposure to natural as opposed to man-made environments leads people to value community and close relationships and to be more generous with money,” says Richard Ryan, one of the paper’s authors.
For more information, visit http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3450.
Hillsborough Wins One of 12 Grants to Improve Recycling
Keep Hillsborough County Beautiful has won a $10,000 “Recycle on the Go” grant from Nestlé Waters North America in a partnership with Keep America Beautiful.
The funds will help tackle public space recycling at four major Hillsborough County park facilities with 75,000 visitors per year. The sites chosen are Northdale, Shimberg, Ed Radice Sports Complex and Lake Park.
“As a country, we have got to do better when it comes to recycling,” said Kim Jeffery, president of Nestlé, which has committed to helping to increase plastic beverage bottle recycling rates to 60% by 2018. “One community at a time, one container at a time, we will work with great organizations like Keep America Beautiful to make recycling easier for people.”
For more information, visit http://kab.org/recycleonthego.
Scientists Warn of Persistent Dead Zones
Healing low-oxygen aquatic “dead zones” will be trickier than previously imagined, according to scientists speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That’s because the low oxygen levels that make it impossible for most organisms to survive also kill a bacteria crucial to removing nitrogen from the water.
In recent years there have been extensive efforts to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, and other areas with dead zones, but those efforts have not yielded the expected results. “We’ve been working for 20 years to breathe life into these dead zones, but we’ve found it much harder than we thought,” says Donald F. Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “Even when the nutrient loads are reduced, the hypoxia is generally not recovering with the rapidity we assumed it might.”
FWC Approves Rule to Allow Peregrine Falcons for Falconry
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will allow falconers to take peregrine falcons with up to five permits issued annually in a random drawing with priority given to Florida residents.
Peregrines were removed from the endangered species list in 1999 and scientists estimate there are at least 3,100 breeding pairs in the U.S. today. “Falconers contributed to the successful conservation of the peregrine by providing birds for captive breeding so peregrines could be reintroduced,” said Robin Boughton, the FWC’s avian coordinator.
Noting that the peregrine is considered an iconic species, Audubon of Florida requested that FWC fund projects to monitor populations. Although they do not nest in Florida, they migrate through the state and some spend the winter here.
UF Research Examines How Common Pesticide Mixes May Affect Bee Die-Offs
Researchers have investigated possible reasons ranging from hive-infecting mites to cell phone-tower radiation since reports of widespread bee die-offs began October 2006. They have yet to pinpoint the cause of colony collapse disorder — most likely because there isn’t just one, say University of Florida researchers.
The mysterious die-offs are likely a result of an accumulation of factors, which might include chemicals found in and around the hives, they say.
Just as mixing medications can have unpredictable results in humans, chemical mixes pose a quandary for the bee industry. Bees are commonly exposed to multiple pesticides that are either applied to or near their hives. “The larvae develop in the presence of and consume these mixtures,” said lead researcher Jamie Ellis. “Any one of these pesticides may not be that harmful to the developing larvae. However, it is possible that combinations of the pesticides can interact.”
The U.S. bee industry is responsible for pollinating $15 billion worth of crops each year. By some estimates, bee pollination is responsible for as much as a third of the food we eat. The work, funded by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, would be among the first to look at such combinations of chemicals introduced at the larval stage. “It is going to be a lot of work to run through all these scenarios, but at the end of the day, it’s the only way to really find out how all these factors come together,” Ellis said.