Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New technique allows frequent water quality monitoring for suite of pollutants

Date:
March 5, 2014
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
A new technique that uses existing technology to allow researchers and natural resource managers to collect significantly more information on water quality has been developed, with the promise of better informing policy decisions. The technique will allow researchers to develop more sophisticated models that address water quality questions. For example, the researchers are using data they collected using the new technique to determine the extent to which fertilizer runoff contributes to water pollution in specific water bodies and the role of wetlands in mitigating the effect of the runoff.

Researchers developed a new technique for collecting more (and more accurate) water quality data. The technique was tested in this brackish marsh.
Credit: François Birgand

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that uses existing technology to allow researchers and natural resource managers to collect significantly more information on water quality to better inform policy decisions.

Related Articles


"Right now, incomplete or infrequent water quality data can give people an inaccurate picture of what's happening -- and making decisions based on inaccurate data can be risky," says Dr. François Birgand, an assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work. "Our approach will help people get more detailed data more often, giving them the whole story and allowing them to make informed decisions."

In addition to its utility for natural resource managers, the technique will also allow researchers to develop more sophisticated models that address water quality questions. For example, the researchers are using data they collected using the new technique to determine the extent to which fertilizer runoff contributes to water pollution in specific water bodies and the role of wetlands in mitigating the effect of the runoff.

The researchers used existing technology called "UV-Vis" spectrometers, which are devices that measure the wavelengths of light absorbed by water to collect water quality data. The upside to these devices is that they can collect data as often as every 15 seconds, and over long periods of time. This is far more frequent than is possible with conventional water sampling and lab analysis techniques. The downside is that they are designed to monitor only a handful of key water quality parameters: nitrates, dissolved organic carbon and turbidity -- or how clear the water is.

But the NC State research team developed a technique that uses a suite of algorithms to significantly expand the amount of information that can be retrieved from the spectroscopy data collected by UV-Vis devices. Specifically, the new technique allows researchers to get information on the levels of organic nitrogen, phosphates, total phosphorus, and salinity of the water. This water quality data can offer key insights to a host of questions, including questions about nutrient pollution.

The researchers tested the new technique in a restored brackish marsh that experiences approximately 70 centimeters of tidal variation -- and a salinity that can vary from freshwater to saltwater within minutes when the tide turns.

"We found that the automated results using our technique were comparable to the results we obtained by testing water samples in the lab," Birgand says. "So we gain a lot in terms of monitoring frequency, without sacrificing accuracy."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. Randall Etheridge, François Birgand, Jason A. Osborne, Christopher L. Osburn, Michael R. Burchell II, Justin Irving. Using in situ ultraviolet-visual spectroscopy to measure nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, and suspended solids concentrations at a high frequency in a brackish tidal marsh. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 2014; 12: 10 DOI: 10.4319/lom.2014.12.10

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "New technique allows frequent water quality monitoring for suite of pollutants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305110933.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2014, March 5). New technique allows frequent water quality monitoring for suite of pollutants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305110933.htm
North Carolina State University. "New technique allows frequent water quality monitoring for suite of pollutants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140305110933.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins