Natural Resources - Work in Progress and Outcomes

Chesapeake Bay Restoration: 

UVA Bay game and Global Water Games (BATTEN: Learmonth). The UVA Bay Game is a large-scale, agent-based simulation model that has the unique capacity to represent the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the largest estuary in the country and the watershed with the largest proportion of land to water, as a complex system of interrelated human agents and ecological processes.  The UVA Bay Game is used as an outreach and education tool to motivate collaboration and innovation among stakeholders.  The Global Water Games template makes this approach generalizable to watershed education and stewardship in other localities.

Nitrogen footprint (CLAS: Galloway). UVA researchers have developed N-Print, a suite of nitrogen footprint calculators, which individuals and institutions can use to connect their actions to reactive nitrogen losses to the environment. UVA is the leader in this field and the first university to calculate a nitrogen footprint. Using recommendations from this model the BOV has established a nitrogen reduction goal similar to the carbon reduction goal of a 25% reduction below 2009 levels by 2025.  This nitrogen reduction model is one that other universities are following.

A newly released “Bay Footprint” calculator – which focuses on nitrogen pollution – helps citizens to see how diet and other choices affect the bay’s health, and how changed behaviors can improve the bay. The tool was developed by University of Virginia environmental scientists and Chesapeake Bay Foundation officials, and resides on the foundation’s website.

Land Conservation:

University of Virginia partnership with the National Fisheries and Wildlife Foundation (CLAS: Smith, Shugart, Epstein; LAW: Cannon; McINTYRE: White). Began in 2011, and designed to foster research and collaboration between and UVA students and faculty, and NFWF conservation staff.  Student interns perform research, analysis, and assessment in connection with specific NFWF conservation initiatives, including land and biodiversity conservation.

Shenandoah Watershed Study and the Virginia Trout Stream Sensitivity Study (CLAS: Scanlon) - UVA researchers and students, in collaboration with state and federal agencies and conservation organizations, have been tracking the effects of acid rain, mercury pollution, climate change and other factors affecting water quality and related ecological conditions in Virginia’s native trout streams for nearly four decades.

Climate Change:

Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research Program (CLAS: McGlathery, Reidenbach, Wiberg, Porter, Pace, D'Odorico). UVA's Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) – one of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) flagship programs – has been collecting data on coastal change for nearly 30 years. Virginia LTER research integrates long-term data and experiments with complex models to the resilience of natural coastal ecosystems (barrier islands, marshes, seagrass meadows) to climate change. The program involves 6 institutions in research and student training and engages local K-12 students. The research informs regional policy related to natural disaster resilience on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

Coastal Sustainability: Salt marsh persistence in response to sea-level rise and feedbacks from social adaptations (CLAS: McGlathery, Wiberg). The project involves 8 institutions along the Atlantic coast, with UVA as lead, in a regional comparison of Atlantic Coast sites to understand vulnerability of tidal wetlands to climate change and the influence of human adaptation decisions such as armoring, living shorelines, dredging, damming, and conservation. Outcomes of management decisions are integrated into complex models of ecosystem vulnerability under alternate future scenarios of climate change.

Coastal resilience on Virginia's Eastern Shore (CLAS; McGlathery, Wiberg, Blum, Porter). In a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, VCR LTER data and models are used to develop an on-line decision-support tool The Nature Conservancy's "Coastal Resilience Tool") for citizens and planners to assess regional vulnerability and resilience to sea-level rise and storms.

Stormwater flooding impacts on transportation in coastal urban settings (SEAS: Chen, Goodall). Advances in hydro-informatics and coupled infrastructure system models are used to forecast flooding impacts on water and transportations systems in urban areas. Engineers are developing tools and approaches to integrate civil infrastructure and environmental system models using geospatial data on water and transportation systems to improve predictive capability, preparedness and resilience of urban communities. The outcome will be a framework for a joint storm water management, land use, and transportation planning model for at-risk coastal cities.

Urban planning and design approaches to resilience of Virginia's coastal cities to climate change (SARC: Crisman, Basset, Denckla-Cobb, Wall; McINTIRE: White). Planning and design integrated with economics, environmental sciences and engineering to develop resilience strategies for Virginia's coastal urban region. Local stakeholder engagement is a key aspect of resilience strategies.

Scenario-based assessment framework for critical infrastructure systems and the seismic resilience of seaports (SEAS: Ivey-Burden). The research program develops a probabilistic framework to evaluate the seismic resilience of seaports, with a focus on hurricanes.

Structural enhancements to adapt to impacts of climate change (SEAS: Ozbulut, Harris). Advanced composite materials are being developed and integrated into sustainable structural design to reduce the vulnerability of civil infrastructure systems to expected climate change and extreme weather events. This includes improving the corrosion resistance of the steel.

Actionable strategies for carbon management (SEAS: Clarens). This program develops technical and policy knowledge focused on carbon management in energy, manufacturing, and transportation systems with a focus on mitigation and adaptation strategies.  Modeling work uses life cycle assessment methods to develop more accurate carbon accounting methods for the biofuels and transportation sectors. Complementary lab work is focused on the high-pressure chemistry and physics that will allow capture, transport, and store of carbon dioxide.