• Design, manufacture, and testing of a modular array for three-dimensional photovoltaics

      Fiscus, Trevar; Peterson, Rorik; Huang, Daisy; Denkenberger, David (2020-08)
      The emerging technology of three-dimensional photovoltaics is explored, shedding light on past research, current developments, and recommendations for future work. Research was performed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks analyzing six different geometric configurations of solar cells, both computationally and experimentally. The primary work described in this paper is the design and production of a modular solar array prototype and the experimental setup used to test the power output of the different configurations. Data collected from hundreds of tests were processed and analyzed to find optimum configuration angles and recommendations for future research. Working through the process of designing and manufacturing the equipment, and then subsequently using it for experimentation, provided many insights into recommended improvements. This text is organized into eight chapters that detail the background of research in using three-dimensional space for solar power generation, the recent project completed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the proposed guidance for future work on this topic. This paper and use of the sources cited herein should provide the reader with the background and tools necessary to continue research. The latter chapters should act as a guide for the future design of components to be used in laboratory experimentation. It is hoped that this report, the collected data, and associated files from this project will add to the knowledge base of threedimensional solar arrays and help advance the technology one step closer to real-world application.
    • The development and initial testing of the vertical comet assay, a novel technique for the study of DNA damage and repair

      Williams, Robert T. D.; Pdlutsky, Andrej; Chen, Cheng-fu; Drew, Kelly (2021-05)
      Gene-specific repair is the idea that certain segments of the genome repair at a faster rate than others. This idea, if demonstrated with adequate evidence, would have large implications for the field of biology as a whole, with special significance for the fields of oncology, gerontology, and molecular and cell biology. The concept of gene-specific repair is not new, with the earliest references in the literature dating back to 1985, and there is a small volume of evidence derived over the years. However, the evidence generated so far is not enough to conclusively prove the existence of gene-specific DNA repair. Generally, the reason for the lack of evidence is that currently available assays and techniques are not adequate for the study of gene-specific repair on a large scale as the techniques that are available require a great deal of time, funding, and skill to generate a reliable and conclusive data set for a single gene, let alone the entire genome. The vertical comet technique described here-in is a response to the perceived need for a robust and relatively high-throughput technique for the study of gene-specific DNA repair. In the traditional comet assay, cells are fixed in agarose gel. Electrophoresis is performed, following several treatment steps, to create a ball of nuclear material embedded in the agarose gel with a 'tail' of smaller pieces of nominally damaged DNA extending to one side. The vertical comet captures this tail DNA in a buffer, allowing for its further analysis with processes such as quantification, PCR/qPCR, and sequencing. The capture of the tail DNA not only makes genespecific repair studies possible, it also allows the vertical comet to fulfill the role of the traditional comet assay with a number of advantages - a reduction in human bias, a reduction in labor-hours required for work, and a reduction in inter-lab variability of results.
    • Development of a vertical oscillator energy harvester: design and testing of a novel renewable resource power conversion system

      Wise, Michael A. Jr.; Al-Badri, Maher; Wies, Richard Jr.; Kasper, Jeremy (2020-12)
      Remote Alaska communities have historically dealt with elevated electric power expenses due to high cost of transporting diesel fuel for power generation. To offset this cost, the installation of various renewable resources have been utilized, particularly wind and solar power. Hydrokinetic generation by harnessing river flows is an emerging and less commonly implemented renewable resource that offers great potential for power generation. Specifically, this study investigates the behavior of a novel concept for harnessing vertical oscillation that occurs when a bluff body is inserted into a flow path. Unlike traditional rotating turbines used in hydrokinetic energy, this particular device utilizes the fluid structure interactions of vortex-induced-vibration and gallop. Due to the unique characteristics of this vertical motion, a thorough examination of the proposed system was conducted via a three-pronged approach of simulation, emulation, and field testing. Using a permanent magnet synchronous generator as the electrical power generator, an electrical power conversion system was simulated, emulated, and tested to achieve appropriate power smoothing for use in microgrid systems present in many Alaskan rural locations.
    • Development of scalable energy distribution models to evaluate the impacts of renewable energy on food, energy, and water system infrastructures in remote Arctic microgrids of Alaska

      Karenzi, Justus; Wies, Richard; Huang, Daisy; Al-Badri, Maher (2020-08)
      Experience and observations from remote Alaska communities have shown that energy is inarguably at the center of food, energy, and water (FEW) security. The availability of potable water, fresh produce, food storage, or processed seafood ultimately depends on a reliable and adequate energy supply. For most communities, diesel fuel is the primary source of power, which comes at high cost because of the logistics associated with importing the fuel to these relatively isolated communities. Integrating locally available renewable energy resources not only enhances energy supply, but the impacts further translate to food and water security in remote microgrids. The focus of this work is to investigate how intermittent renewable energy sources impact community level food and water infrastructure systems in a remote Arctic microgrid. Energy distribution models are mathematically developed in MATLAB® Simulink® to identify, describe, and evaluate the connections between intermittent renewable resources and the FEW loads. Energy requirements of public water systems, greenhouses, cold storage units, seafood processing loads, and modular water and food system loads are evaluated. Then energy sources including solar PV, solar thermal collectors, wind, hydro, energy storage, and diesel electric generation are modeled and validated. Finally, simulations of scenarios using distributed energy resources to serve water and food infrastructure loads are carried out including the incorporation of dispatchable loads. The results indicate that the impacts of renewable energy on FEW infrastructure systems are highly seasonal, primarily because of the variability of renewable resources. The outcome of this work helps in gaining firsthand insights into FEW system dynamics in a remote islanded microgrid setting.
    • Development of working fluid control techniques for improved ramping response in geothermal-based organic Rankine cycle generation systems

      Shofowora, Abayomi John; Wies, Richard; Denkenberger, David; Al-Badri, Maher (2021-05)
      Small-scale low-temperature geothermal-based electricity generation systems are under development for use as grid supporting and grid forming power sources in remote locations. Conversion of low-temperature heat to electrical energy in an organic Rankine cycle using working fluids such as refrigerants is challenging due to the low energy conversion efficiency of the process and the significantly slower thermal response rate in comparison to the time response of the electrical grid for changes in electrical generation and load. There is a need to investigate techniques for controlling the flow of the working fluid in combination with the use of a secondary heat exchanger to improve ramping response of these systems. This research project develops and models a working fluid control technique that incorporates power electronic technologies that could help to improve the ramping response of geothermal-based organic Rankine cycle generation systems. The performance of the model is examined with the aid of simulations in MATLAB® Simulink®. The results from these simulations are used to develop a functional and reliable control technique for ramping response improvement in geothermal-based electricity generation systems using organic Rankine cycles.
    • The effect of Siberian alder on the activities of three extracellular enzymes and their implications for soil decomposition in Arctic and boreal Alaska

      Heslop, Calvin; Ruess, Roger; Bret-Harte, Syndonia; Kielland, Knut (2020-08)
      As tall shrubs increase in extent and abundance in response to a changing climate, they have the potential to substantially alter ecosystem nutrient availability and carbon (C) balance. Siberian alder (Alnus viridis ssp. fruticosa), a nitrogen (N) fixing shrub, is among the species responding to climate warming in both the Arctic and boreal forests. Alder-fixed N has the potential to increase decomposition of labile C, by relieving N limitation on microbial activity. Simultaneously, it has the potential to decrease decomposition of recalcitrant C by downregulating microbial N mining. The net effect of N additions is influenced by the relative quality of the soil C and could determine whether alder N additions result in a net sink or source of C to the atmosphere. We measured the activities of three extracellular enzymes in bulk organic soils under and away from alder canopies, in stands differing in soil organic matter quality, in both arctic and boreal forest regions of Alaska, USA. In the Alaskan arctic, the proximity of alder increased the activities of both recalcitrant and labile C-degrading enzymes regardless of soil C quality, potentially resulting in increased C losses. In the boreal forest, enzyme activities did not differ with alder proximity nor stand soil C quality, possibly due to long legacies of alder N inputs relieving microbial N limitation in these stands. As arctic and boreal forest ecosystems experience shifts in the distribution and abundance of this N fixing shrub, alders' influence on soil decomposition could have significant consequences for high latitude soil C budgets.
    • Effectiveness, environmental pathways and operational readiness of OP-40 chemical herder when used in conjunction with in-situ burning for oil spill reponse in the offshore Arctic

      Bullock, Robin J.; Perkins, Robert A.; Aggarwal, Srijan; Schnabel, William; Barnes, David; Allen, Alan (2021-05)
      The Arctic is the northern most part of the Earth, and within Alaska (United States), is home to approximately 10,000 people, the majority of which are indigenous populations. It contains some of the largest reserves of natural resources and the most extensive and continuous wilderness areas in the world. As the Earth's climate changes, so does the Arctic and its economy, its commercial opportunities as well as the associated risks. One such risk is the unintentional release of oil into the offshore Arctic environment from resource extraction, commercial fishing, tourism or marine shipping. Oil spills in this environment prove damaging to the marine population, as well as logistically challenging given the remote landscape, harsh temperatures, ice cover and difficult working conditions. The primary oil spill response methods are mechanical recovery, chemical dispersion, and/or in-situ burning. Regarding possible spills in Arctic seawaters, the choice of response option depends on ice cover, along with other factors. In-situ burning is a possible primary response option if the oil slick is thick enough to sustain burning and may be one of the few options available for use in ice-covered waters. Chemical agents, known as thickening agents or "herders", may enhance the opportunities for in-situ burning by temporarily thickening of the oil slick in order to sustain a burn. With careful evaluation of the physical and chemical processes involved with herder application and subsequent burning and their ultimate fate within the environment; industry, government, Alaska native and other interested parties would be better able to assess the usefulness of this response option and judge the safety and effectiveness of herder use in the Arctic, as well as estimate its effects on the environment.
    • The effects of individual and environmental heterogeneity on long-term population dynamics of Cassin's auklets (Ptychoramphus aleuticus)

      Johns, Michael E.; Breed, Greg; Lindberg, Mark; Kitaysky, Alexander; Doak, Pat (2020-12)
      Reproductive output and survival are expected to be balanced through a tradeoff between current success and future potential, in response to environmental conditions that vary on spatial and temporal scales. Long-term datasets that follow uniquely marked animals through time are excellent tools for describing how heritable or derived traits that influence reproduction and survival can be attributed to individual quality, and how the added reproductive performance of these individuals influence population dynamics. A 37-year record of breeding histories from known-aged Cassin's auklets from Southeast Farallon Island, a colony off the coast of central California, was used to examine these ideas in the context of a behavior unique to long-lived birds called double brooding. The results of generalized linear mixed modeling and multistate mark-recapture models revealed that double brooding, a form of increased immediate breeding effort, was associated with both higher reproductive output and longer lifespans. Older individuals that initiated breeding early in the season were most likely to attempt a second brood, particularly when food availability was high. Multistate mark-recapture analyses showed individuals that double brooded many times throughout their lives incurred no apparent longterm costs to survival or longevity. Oceanographic conditions related to prey abundance in the summer months affected the rates of double brooding, and using three years of movement data were shown to be important drivers of winter habitat selection as well. Findings at the individual level present strong evidence of a positive relationship between double brooding and survival that can only be attributed to some measure of individual quality. At the population level, when competition for breeding sites was relaxed, higher rates of double brooding had a positive effect on future recruitment rates; buffering the population against climate-driven periods of low adult survival.
    • Effects of sea ice seasonal evolution and oil properties on crude oil upward migration through sea ice

      Oggier, Marc; Eicken, Hajo; Collins, Eric; Barnes, David L.; Pettit, Erin; Truffer, Martin (2020-12)
      Sea ice plays an essential role in polar ecosystems as a habitat for organisms at the base of the food web. Receding Arctic perennial sea ice, potential oil and gas reserves, and increasing industrial activities in the Arctic are likely to increase oil extraction and transport in the maritime Arctic. Despite a decrease in summer sea ice extent, Arctic waters remain covered with sea ice for much of the year, increasing the risk of an oil spill in and under Arctic sea ice. This dissertation addresses the need for a quantitative understanding of the timing of and constraints on oil mobilization through the full seasonal cycle as well as the resulting oil distribution within the ice cover. All of these factors have major implications for spill clean-up efforts and habitat damage assessments. In Chapter 1, I assemble sea ice physical properties derived from long-term observations to characterize sea ice seasonal development stages. In Chapter 2, guided by results from three sets of oil-in-ice tank experiments, I present a semi-empirical multistage oil migration model linked to sea ice seasonal stages. I also find that ice stratigraphy plays a major role in oil movement, with granular ice hindering oil movement. In Chapter 3, I quantify the microstructural differences between granular and columnar ice texture. While both pore spaces have similar pore and throat size distribution, the higher tortuosity of granular ice increases the distance oil and brine have to travel by up to 30% to cover the same vertical distance as in columnar ice. With a less connected pore space, granular ice permeability is estimated as one order of magnitude smaller than that of columnar ice during winter and at the onset of spring warming. Chapter 4 introduces a simple 1D vertical model with a small set of initial conditions to describe oil movement along a connected pore pathway, I constrain the oil flow by accounting for the lateral displacement of brine into the surrounding ice volume to improve prediction of the timing and distribution of oil-in-ice flow. Future coupling of this model to a model of ice growth and melt may help inform oil spill response and clean-up operations, and improve the understanding of oil migration in the context of natural resource damage assessments.
    • Efficient alternative food systems for earth and space

      Alvarado, Kyle A.; Denkenberger, David; Schiewer, Silke; Karlsson, Meriam (2020-12)
      Alternative foods are a source of human-edible calories derived from an unconventional source or process. This thesis includes two alternative foods: (i) crops grown under low-tech greenhouses in low sunlight environments and (ii) hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria (HOB) in space and Earth refuges, such as to repopulate the Earth. The purpose of alternative foods is to ensure food security for human survival. During a global catastrophic risk (GCR) scenario, such as nuclear winter or super volcanic eruption, the sun may be obscured, causing lack of crop production and therefore global food shortages. The purpose of this thesis was to improve the cost and energy use of producing food during a GCR by avoiding the need to use artificial light photosynthesis. As a solution, a low-tech greenhouse scaling method was designed that could feed the Earth as quickly and cost-effectively as possible during a GCR, such as nuclear winter. Using concepts derived for scaling HOB single cell protein (SCP), a cost analysis was conducted for space that relates to Earth refuges. The cost of HOB was compared to that of microalgae SCP and of dry prepackaged food in a closed-loop system. Low-tech greenhouses were designed with basic materials to continue the production of non-cold tolerant crops at low cost; cold tolerant crops would be able to grow outside of greenhouses where it does not freeze. Scaling of low-tech greenhouses, which would add a cost to food of $2.30 /kg dry, is currently one of the most effective alternative foods for Earth. HOB is an effective method of converting electrical energy into food, having an electricity to biomass energy conversion efficiency of 18% versus 4.0% for artificial light (vertical farming) of microalgae (other crops would be even less efficient).
    • Environmental drivers of fish communities and food webs in Gulf of Alaska estuaries

      Lundstrom, Nina; Beaudreau, Anne; Mueter, Franz; Konar, Brenda (2021-05)
      The coastal Gulf of Alaska (GOA) is experiencing rapid, climate-driven ecological change. Climate forecasts predict increased temperatures and more precipitation as rainfall, but these changes will not have uniform effects across nearshore ecosystems. Estuarine habitats will be dynamically affected by changes in neighboring watersheds as glaciers melt and recede. Because estuaries provide critical habitat for many fishes, including some that support fisheries, it is important to understand how changing estuarine conditions may impact nearshore fish communities. The overall goal of this thesis was to investigate how environmental conditions, fish communities, and food webs vary across estuaries fed by watersheds with varying glacial coverage (0-60%). We conducted monthly beach seining and measured environmental conditions from April to September 2019 at ten estuary sites in two regions of the GOA, Lynn Canal in southeastern Alaska and Kachemak Bay in southcentral Alaska. The goal of Chapter One was to characterize differences in estuarine fish communities along the glacial gradient, between regions, and throughout the sampling season. We then focused on two abundant species in Lynn Canal, starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus) and Pacific staghorn sculpin (Leptocottus armatus), and used multiple years of data (2014, 2016-2017, 2019) to determine environmental drivers of size structure for each species. Fish communities showed the greatest differences between regions and across months, and temperature and salinity were significant drivers of variation in species composition. Variation in mean length of Pacific staghorn sculpin was best explained by year and the interaction of site and month, whereas variation in mean length of starry flounder was best explained by temperature, salinity, and turbidity. The goal of Chapter Two was to provide foundational information on the diet of juvenile coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) during the estuarine life stage and characterize variation in diets between years and regions. Juvenile coho salmon have a diverse diet of terrestrial and marine invertebrates and fishes, and they exhibited a shift to piscivory during this transitional period in nearshore habitats. Site differences accounted for most of the variability in diet, while temperature and salinity only accounted for a total of 12% of the variability in diet. Overall, we found that fish communities in GOA estuaries vary with environmental and habitat conditions, but that the glacial to non-glacial watershed gradient was less important in explaining variation in fish community structure than regional and interannual differences.
    • Environmental impacts on reproductive responses of Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) and subsistence users of St. Lawrence Island

      Larsen Tempel, Jenell T.; Atkinson, Shannon; Kruse, Gordon H.; Fugate, Corey; Pyenson, Nick (2020-08)
      An interdisciplinary approach is used in understanding change and resiliency in St. Lawrence Island (SLI) resources and resource users throughout this dissertation. Historically SLI inhabitants have relied on the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) for their survival and this resource is still highly valued for cultural and dietary purposes. The responses of Pacific walruses and SLI subsistence users to environmental change was analyzed. In walruses, reproductive capacity was analyzed using an anatomical approach as well as reproductive plasticity which was determined using a physiological approach to characterize their estrus cycle. A suite of anatomical measurements were developed to characterize reproductive capacity of walruses by analyzing ovaries from three distinct time frames during a 35-year period. Reproductive capacity was reduced during time frames when carrying capacity (K) was reached and when large environmental changes occurred in the Bering Sea, including years of very low sea ice extent. Reproductive capacity was high in times when K was lower and harvest levels were greater. Our results explained how perturbations in K and environmental changes may have influenced reproductive capacity of the population in the past. Endocrine techniques were used in ovarian tissues to determine if progesterone and total estrogens are useful indicators of female reproductive status in walruses harvested during the spring hunt. Progesterone and total estrogen concentrations were greater in the reproductive tissues of unbred and pregnant females than postpartum females, however neither hormone could distinguish between pregnant and unbred animals. These results provide the first physiological evidence for pseudopregnancy in this species, rather than a postpartum estrus. Lastly, discussions were held with SLI community members to determine changes in key subsistence resources and community resiliency with regard to food security. Walruses ranked highest among key resources. Stakeholders reported limited access and increased effort to hunt walruses, changes in crab abundance, and increases in commercially exploitable fish stocks. Changes were attributed to loss of sea ice, "bad" weather, and climate change. In order for SLI communities to continue their subsistence-based way of life, inhabitants may need to expand their diet to include less-preferred food items in place of harvested ice-associated species. In conclusion, loss of sea ice and rapid environmental changes in the Bering Sea have the potential to greatly impact walrus reproduction and the marine subsistence way of life that is practiced by SLI stakeholders.
    • Ethnoarchaeology of the middle Tanana Valley, Alaska

      Smith, Gerad M.; Reuther, Joshua; Kari, James; Holmes, Charles; Hanson, Diane (2020-12)
      This study explores the shifting anthropological constructs of identity for the Middle Tanana people through time. It first summarizes this theme through contemporary regional Native American internal and external influences. A discussion is then given on how these constructs became formed through historical processes. Next, it provides an in-depth look into how identity became shaped prior to the Euro-American influence through an ethnographic reconstruction. These are framed in a way to form relevant hypotheses to study the regional prehistoric archaeological record. The Historical Linguistics analytical approach used here confirms that there is very little, if any, evidence in the languages of the Tanana Valley from any non-Dene or other hypothetical pre-existing linguistic group. Language forms an integral unit of community identity. This study also frames the linguistic argument for deep regional cultural antiquity and identity through an extensive survey of traditional place names. A brief comparative study of the processes and effects of the incursion of the Indo-European languages into traditional Dene territory is discussed to demonstrate this argument. Next, the research explores the middle and later Holocene archaeological record of the Shaw Creek basin, located deep within the Middle Tanana homelands, using innovative approaches framing traditional Optimal Foraging theory arguments through the lens of Complexity theory. It focuses on the household archaeology and spatial artifact analysis of two archaeological sites, Swan Point (three Holocene components) and Pickupsticks (one Holocene component). In these case studies, cultural identity analogs, social structure, and agency are discussed using the material cultural record as a proxy. Finally, a dynamic, seasonal, ecological landscape-use model informed by predator/prey interactions is used to inform hypothetical human foraging movements. It models decision-making and risk-mitigation processes through resource shortfalls, predicting raw materials' movements from their source locations to their discard locations at these two archaeological sites. The conclusions support the theory that Dene presence in the Middle Tanana Valley is an ancient phenomenon that has at least early Holocene roots. Further, the period between 2,000 and 1,000 years ago appears to have been a critical period of additional cultural intensification processes. The processes leading to the development of the Athabascan archaeological tradition are considered to be the result of demographic expansion, increased territoriality, and a critical reinterpretation of the roles of kinship and non-related partnerships.
    • An evaluation of GPR techniques for analyzing the safety of Interior Alaskan ice roads under varying river ice and environmental conditions

      Richards, Elizabeth M.; Stuefer, Svetlana; Maio, Chris; Belz, Nathan; Daanen, Ronald (2021-05)
      Ice roads and bridges are necessary routes to transport heavy equipment, supplies and food in the winter months to and from isolated cold region communities off the road system. Ice roads allow for community members to avoid the high costs of air shipments and obtain equipment and vehicles that would otherwise not be available. These ice roads traverse frozen bodies of water (e.g., rivers, estuaries, and lakes), and require extreme safety when driving over. To achieve this, calculations are frequently completed to determine the maximum acceptable loading on the ice cover. River ice tends to have increased safety concerns and uncertainty for travel that stem from warmer air temperatures and other factors such as precipitation, snow drifting, and ice cover forming differently each year. The necessity of obtaining time intensive ice thickness measurements by hand puts the responsible personnel at considerable risk of injury or fatality. Ground penetrating radar (GPR), which has gained much popularity in the last few decades, is a quicker and more effective non-invasive method for measuring ice thickness and other properties. The GPR system was tested for its accuracy in measuring ice thickness on common transportation routes on the Yukon River and the Tanana River. Identification of varying ice type layers in river ice cover using GPR was also attempted. While layers could not be identified using the 450 MHz and 750 MHz central frequency antennas, an accuracy analysis of GPR ice thickness measurements under various environmental conditions was completed. This analysis contributes to a comprehensive understanding of the safety of ice roads for community members in remote northern villages and provides the basis for further research on identifying layers in river ice cover.
    • Even in Arcadia: stories

      Wood, Rebecca N.; Farmer, Daryl; Johnson, Sara; Schell, Jennifer (2021-05)
      Even in Arcadia: Stories is a short story collection that follows adolescent and young adult women as they navigate growing up and growing out of the spaces they inhabit. Set in the American southwest, specifically unnamed suburban and rural cities of Arizona, the collection challenges the culturally popular narratives that surround the West-- the idealized cowboy, rugged individualism, and conquest of nature. Drawing on long-standing myths, serialized TV shows, and classic literature, the collection asks the reader to evaluate the stories they consume and are willing to take as truth. The stories range from realistic to speculative, employing horror and surrealistic elements as they descend into a sort of hellscape that draws on natural elements of desert landscapes juxtaposed against urban spaces. The collection focuses on gender, adolescence, and trauma set in the aftermath of the 2008 recession and the decline of small-town America from the perspective of youth.
    • Experimental investigation of the role of different clays in low salinity waterflooding

      Ivuawuogu, Henry; Zhang, Yin; Dandekar, Abhijit; Khataniar, Santanu; Awoleke, Obadare (2020-08)
      Various studies have demonstrated that Low Salinity Water Flooding (LSWF) can enhance oil recovery effectively, and its typical recovery mechanisms have been recognized. However, there is still a significant debate on the functions of clay during LSWF. This study investigates the impact of different clays, including montmorillonite, illite, and kaolinite, on the performance of LSWF. The zeta potentials of sand, montmorillonite, illite, and kaolinite in the presence of high salinity water (HSW) and low salinity water (LSW) were first examined. Then, the swelling factors of the three clay minerals in the HSW and LSW were measured in succession to determine their swelling characteristics. Subsequently, coreflooding experiments were conducted using one clay-free sand pack column and five sand pack columns respectively containing 10 wt% of montmorillonite, 10 wt% of illite, 10 wt% of kaolinite, compound clays (5 wt% of montmorillonite + 2.5 wt% of illite + 2.5 wt% of kaolinite), and 5 wt% of montmorillonite and the cumulative oil production and pressure drops were recorded. A produced crude oil sample with the American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity of 34° and viscosity of 14 cP (60°F) was used in the experiments. The total dissolved solids (TDS) of the HSW and LSW are 27,501 mg/L, and 2,485 mg/L respectively. It has been found that LSW could generate more negative zeta potential values for sand, montmorillonite, illite, and kaolinite, which made them more water-wet and thus favor oil recovery. Montmorillonite obviously swelled in HSW, and it could further swell significantly by contacting LSW. Although illite showed some swelling in HSW, LSW could not further expand it. Kaolinite did not swell in both HSW and LSW. The results from six coreflooding experiments showed that after high salinity waterflooding, the subsequent LSWF could generally further improve the oil recovery. The sand pack columns containing montmorillonite showed higher incremental oil recovery during LSWF (17.42% from sand pack column with 10 wt% of montmorillonite, 10.27% from sand pack column with compound clay, and 8.90% from sand pack column with 5 wt% of montmorillonite). Also, LSWF could improve oil recovery for the clay-free sand pack column, the sand pack column with kaolinite, and the sand pack column with illite by 0.73%, 0.83%, and 1.03%, respectively. Therefore, clay minerals would play an important role in determining oil recovery performance in LSWF, and the more swelling there is in clay in LSW, the more favorable it is in LSWF. This study proved that both clay swelling and wettability alteration could attribute to the improved oil recovery by LSWF.
    • Exploring infrasound wavefields to characterize volcanic eruptions

      Iezzi, Alexandra M.; Fee, David; Tape, Carl; West, Michael; Izbekov, Pavel; Haney, Matthew (2020-08)
      Infrasound has become an increasingly popular way to monitor and characterize volcanic eruptions, especially when combined with multidisciplinary observations. Regardless of how close the infrasound instruments are to the eruption, the effects from propagation must be considered prior to characterizing and quantifying the source. In this dissertation, we focus on modeling the effects of the atmosphere and topography on the recorded infrasound waveforms in order to better interpret the acoustic source and its implications on the volcanic eruption as a whole. Alaska has 54 historically active volcanoes, one third of which have no local monitoring equipment. Therefore, remote sensing (including that of infrasound arrays) is relied upon for the detection, location, and characterization of volcanic eruptions. At long ranges, the wind and temperature structure of the atmosphere affects infrasound propagation, however, changes in these conditions are variable both in time and space. We apply an atmospheric reconstruction model to characterize the atmosphere and use infrasound propagation modeling techniques for a few recent eruptions in Alaska. We couple these atmospheric propagation results with array processing techniques to provide insight into detection capability and eruption dynamics for both transient and long-duration eruptions in Alaska. Furthermore, we explore the future implementation of this long-range infrasound propagation modeling as an additional monitoring tool for volcano observatories in real time. The quantication of volcanic emissions, including volume flow rate and erupted mass, is possible through acoustic waveform inversion techniques that account for the effects of propagation over topography. Previous volcanic studies have generally assumed a simple acoustic source (monopole), however, more complex source reconstructions can be estimated using a combination of monopole and dipole sources (multipole). We deployed an acoustic network around Yasur volcano, Vanuatu, which has eruptions every 1-4 minutes, including acoustic sensors along a tethered aerostat, allowing us to better constrain the acoustic source in three dimensions. We find that the monopole source is a good approximation when topography is accounted for, but that directionality cannot be fully discounted. Inversions for the dipole components produce estimates consistent with observed ballistic directionality, though these inversions are somewhat unstable given the station conguration. Future work to explore acoustic waveform inversion stability, uncertainty, and robustness should be performed in order to better estimate and quantify the explosion source. Volcanic explosions can produce large, ash-rich plumes that pose great hazard to aviation. We use a single co-located seismic and infrasound sensor pair to characterize 21 explosions at Mount Cleveland, Alaska over a four-year study period. While the seismic explosion signals were similar, the acoustic signals varied between explosions, with some explosions exhibiting single main compressional phase while other explosions had multiple compressions in a row. A notable observation is that the seismo-acoustic time lag varied between explosions, implying a change in the path between the source and receiver. We explore the influence of atmospheric effects, nonlinear propagation, and source depth within the conduit on this variable seismo-acoustic time lag. While changes in the atmospheric conditions can explain some of the observed variation, substantial residual time lags remain for many explosions. Additionally, nonlinear propagation does not result in a measurable difference for the acoustic onset. Therefore, using methods such as seismic particle motion analysis and cross correlation of waveforms between events, we conclude that varying source depth within the conduit likely plays a key role in the observed variation in the seismo-acoustic time lags at Mount Cleveland.
    • Exploring the use of machine learning for daily fire growth prediction in Alaska

      White, James; Walsh, John; Thoman, Richard; Bhatt, Uma (2021-05)
      Wildfire is a natural but often hazardous part of the Alaskan ecosystems. Physically based wildfire models range from simple relationships used for rapid, in-situ fire behavior analysis to complex weather models used for prediction over several days and weeks. Physical models in Alaska, however, often struggle to integrate weather forecast information to make predictions beyond just a few days. The random forest model explored here is able to leverage an array of variables to identify days of enhanced and reduced satellite fire detections. Peaks and lulls in activity are accurately identified, though exact magnitudes are often incorrect, especially when wildfire suppression efforts occurred. This study emphasizes the use of reanalysis weather variables in addition to antecedent fire activity, highlighting the usefulness of variables like vapor pressure deficit for use in quantitative prediction. By applying weather forecast data, the model generated simulated wildfire forecasts. These forecasts show some success at identifying peaks and lulls in fire activity. Effective lead time varied widely ranging between 1 and 10 days, mostly dependent on the weather model performance. By providing specific timing and using real ensemble forecasts for medium term prediction, a model likes this fills a potential open niche in fire predictive services. Machine learning may be especially useful for its relative efficiency and ease of automation.
    • Fate and effects of commercial crude oil bioremediation products in Arctic seawater

      Gofstein, Taylor R.; Leigh, Mary Beth; Simpson, William; Guerard, Jennifer; Collins, R. Eric (2020-08)
      With increased oil exploration, development, and transport in the Arctic in recent years, the potential for disastrous oil spills is imminent. Biodegradation, the consumption of contaminants by indigenous microorganisms capable of using them as an energy source, can be enhanced using bioremediation treatments and may be a viable spill remediation method when traditional physical recovery techniques are not. The EPA National Contingency Plan (NCP) product schedule lists oil spill response treatments that can be used in the event of a spill, many of which can stimulate intrinsic biodegradation. However, there is often little to no experimental data demonstrating the effectiveness of these products in aiding the remediation of a spill. Here we investigate the effects of the currently listed NCP products Corexit 9500 and Oil Spill Eater II (OSEII) on crude oil biodegradation in Arctic seawater and the associated shifts in the microbial community using mesocosm incubations. Despite conflicting reports in the literature, Corexit 9500 showed no inhibitory effects on the biodegradation of crude oil. When oil and Corexit were co-present, chemical and microbial data revealed a sequential degradation beginning with the non-ionic surfactant components of Corexit (Span 80, Tween 80, Tween 85), followed by the degradation of the labile alkane oil components, with the degradation of other Corexit components such as dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS) and dipropylene glycol n-butyl ether (DGBE) less clear. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that oil and Corexit stimulate different microbial communities but some taxa are stimulated by either (Oleispira, Pseudofulvibacter, Roseobacter), suggesting that these organisms may be capable of degrading both. Further analysis with metatranscriptomic sequencing showed increased gene expression in the presence of Corexit, even when co-present with oil, suggesting that Corexit may enhance the metabolic activity of oil degraders. Increased expression of β-oxidation pathway genes (fadE, fadA, fadB) in the presence of Corexit coincided with the chemical loss of Corexit components. Based on these findings and the abundance of ester groups in the chemical structures of Corexit 9500 surfactant components, we propose a biodegradation pathway that involves the transformation of ester groups into fatty acids either through biotic lipase enzymes or abiotic hydrolysis, before funneling into the β-oxidation fatty acid degradation pathway. Taxonomic origins for these transcripts showed a diverse number of genera expressing these genes, which along with its lability may serve to explain the number of taxa observed to respond to Corexit both here and in the literature. Characterization of the contents of OSEII revealed the presence of sugars, surfactants, nutrients, phytochemicals, amylase, protease, and the non-hydrocarbonoclastic non-viable microorganisms Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. Incubation experiments targeting the efficacy of OSEII showed a slight enhancement of n-alkane loss at 30 days, suggesting that it may have utility in longer term use following a post-spill nutrient depletion. However, the nutrient contents of OSEII were up to 32-fold times higher for ammonia and 100,000-fold times higher for iron than in ambient Arctic seawater, which although are limiting nutrients in seawater, may also cause more harmful ecological effects following a spill by inducing phytoplankton blooms. Based on these findings, the non-ionic surfactants of Corexit 9500 appear to be easily degraded through the proposed β-oxidation fatty acid pathway. Future NCP dispersants should target these labile ester chemical moieties while also being effective at dispersion. It is imperative for NCP products to undergo more rigorous third-party experiments to demonstrate their suitability, effectiveness, toxicity, and unintended side effects that may occur in situ before an oil spill occurs. Doing so will allow decision-makers to have comprehensive information to aid in selection of appropriate oil spill response techniques.
    • Feasibility of multiple camera large-scale particle image velocimetry techniques for rivers in Alaska

      LaMesjerant, Eric N.; Toniolo, Horacio; Barnes, David; Shur, Yuri (2020-12)
      Alaska is characterized by sparse hydrologic data. Non-intrusive gauging is one method of increasing the data available but is limited in its current application. This study seeks to assess the feasibility of using commercially available software and multiple cameras to diversify the conditions for which large-scale particle image velocimetry may be applied. Using available software and the deployment of multiple cameras, stereoscopically determined discharge is compared with discharge determined using an acoustic Doppler current profiler and accepted single camera practices currently in use with large-scale particle image velocimetry. The results indicate that the use of commercial software and multiple cameras is feasible, with additional work, and that there is a statistically significant relationship between the velocity index (alpha) and aspect ratio (B/H, width divided by average depth). The velocity index-aspect ratio data indicate that the velocity index is a result of the environmental and geometric conditions for a given cross section and that an empirical relationship could be established.