Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day #9 Last Full Day at the Flume

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Today is my last full day at the Flume. The weather has been great, and we are back to a normal wave schedule. We ran four sets of 30 minute irregular wave runs, and one 1 hour wave run, one 5 minute monochromatic wave run, followed by 15 minutes of bichromatic waves.  Below is just another photo of the flume, watching waves roll in this morning.

 You will see below, is a group photo we took this morning. Unfortunately Dr. Ian Turner is not in this picture, because he is in fact the one taking the picture. But I thought it was about time that we got a picture of at least most of us involved in Bardex II.

Below, is yet another picture of me in the flume helping to record sensor measurements, and post-adjustments that we make. This has helped me a great deal to get familiar with, and recognize the different sensors and instruments that measure sediment transport on beaches. There is nothing like first-hand experience in the field! I think back to just two weeks ago, when I had a vague understanding of what was involved with Coastal Engineering, and little to no understanding of how to measure sediment transport on a beach, and I am simply amazed at what I have learned being at the Flume, and working with such marvelous, patient engineers and researchers. Although, they have taught me a lot, I realize that there is still so much I do not know, and that I look forward to learning this summer working with Diane!

Today, Diane introduced me to the world of MATLAB which is computer software that is used to help interpret the data we collect from our sensors. It is pretty complex, and seems to have it's own scientific language that I will be learning this summer. Lucky for me, I should hopefully get more comfortable with it the more I continue to use it this summer while I am working with Diane.   

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day #8 Camera Day in the Flume

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Today we are using a high speed camera, that takes 90 frames/second, in the bed of the flume to track sediment movement in the swash zone. We will be running about 10 sets of very short (2 minute wave runs) of monochromatic waves, with our main focus of collecting accurate data from the high speed camera.

 It took about 3 hours to prepare the flume by moving and adjusting sensors, and to place the camera in the swash zone correctly. As part of the preparation, Thijs Lanckriet (PhD candidate from the University of Delaware), and I had to replace the probes on five of the CCP (Conductivity Concentration Profilers, I discussed in yesterdays blog), and then place them back into the bed under the Vectrino II's at one of the stations. Below shows a picture of Thijs and I working to replace the probes on one of the CCP's.

Below, is an up close view of a probe being placed into the CCP Sensor.

As I mentioned above, our main focus today  is to collect accurate data from the high speed camera. In fact, two out of our three stations that we normally collect data from are not being used today. So, we are collecting a subset of data (one station) for all the wave runs today. Below, is a picture of our station II (with various sensors and instruments) that had to be adjusted parallel to the bed, instead of perpendicular, as it normally is when collecting data, to accommodate for the high speed camera.

It took several people working hard to set up the high speed camera correctly and safely into the bed of the flume. Below is a picture of Dr. Ian Turner (Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales), Dr. Martin Austin (Post-Doc at Plymouth University), and Dr. Jack Puleo (Associate Professor at the University of Delaware) working to insert the camera into the bed.

Next, is a picture further along in the process of inserting the camera with some happy faces of  Dr. Ian Turner, Dr. Martin Austin, Dr. Jack Puleo, and Hachem Kassem.

Then, Dr.Ian Turner and Dr. Jack Puleo are doing the finishing touches on the camera before the first wave of the day.

Later in the afternoon, we placed the "Smart Sand Grains" back into the flume for a wave run. Only this time, we decided to build a cage for it out of metal wire, so that we would not lose the balls in the flume again. Below, are two pictures of  me helping construct the metal cage in the flume for the "Smart Sand Grains".

You can see from the picture below, that it took quite a few people working hard to set up the cage, and adjust the high speed camera before the next wave run. We have Hachem Kassem, Dr. Gerd Masselink, Dr. Daniel Conley, Patrick Lawless, and Dr. Jack Puleo all working as a solid team to get the job done. 

The picture below, shows what the high speed camera, and metal cage look like set up next to each other, ready for the waves.

Next, we have the "Smart Sand Grains" in the cage, ready for the wave run to begin.

Below, is a video I took of the "Smart Sand Grains" riding the waves; freely spinning and turning while collecting data for us!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day #7 Long Wave Runs Begin

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It seems that everyday I come extra prepared for wet weather while working in the flume, the weather turns out to be beautiful. I am definitely not complaining. I appreciate working in dry weather in the flume, and enjoy the dry bike rides to and from flume!

Today we started out with a 1 hour irregular wave run at 9:15 a.m., followed by a 5 minute monochramtic wave run, a 15 minute bichromatic wave run, and then back to a 3 hour irregular wave run. The 3 hour long wave run is the longest wave run we have had so far, and that we will have for this project.

I find it interesting that frogs are continuing to appear in the flume, hopping in the sand, and we continue to try and rescue them from being drowned in the waves. Diane and I rescued two earlier today between wave runs, and released them into the woods. Below is a picture of one of them in a bucket that we carried it in, and I am not sure of the species. I am guessing they are different from the species we see in the United States. I will have to look into this, it is green with brown spots all over it's body.

Below is a picture of the frog as it was released into the woods, and free to enter the woods.

As you can see in the picture below, the dry part of the beach is getting smaller each day. I took this picture this afternoon. The body of water on the other side of the dry part of the beach is supposed to simulate a lagoon environment. Eventually, at the end of the project, they will create waves that will go up and over into the lagoon. So then there will be absolutely no dry part of the beach. Unfortunately, I will not be around to see this occur.

Today, I learned more background information on this project that I have been involved with, and blogging about for the past week. This research project is called Bardex II, which is very similar to Bardex I which occurred 4 years ago in the same flume, and had many of the same researchers involved. Bardex I involved a bed comprised of coarse gravel instead of more fine sand grain that is in the bed right now for Bardex II. So, the researchers who have been involved with both projects, should be able to determine the importance of grain size with beach erosion that is caused by waves by comparing their data from Bardex II to what they received from Bardex I four years ago, which is really quite amazing.

Another highlight from today, was our release of the "Smart Sand Grains" into the flume, which are ping-pong sized micro-electronics devices that track sediment movement. These small ping-pong ball devices are released to turn and spin freely in the waves of the flume, which can simulate the movement of a grain of sand, so we can track live sediment transport in the waves. This afternoon was our first attempt at releasing one of these devices into the flume, and it was exciting! Dr. Diane Foster (Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire) set the device in the swash zone, and let it ride the waves. Although, she didn't want to lose the device, or let it bump into other instruments, so she was constantly picking it up and moving it while it was riding the waves. This was very challenging! We ended up losing the "Smart Sand Grains" in the waves for about 25 minutes which was slightly nerve racking, but when the wave run finished Diane was able to successfully locate the "Smart Sand Grain". Hooray!  Below is picture of the "Smart Sand Grain" when it was first set into the flume in the swash zone.

The picture below shows it turning and spinning in a wave.

Below, illustrates Dr. Diane Foster's dedication to keeping an eye on the "Smart Sand Grain" that was released. She was dodging in and out of the waves avoiding all the equipment trying to catch it, and then re-releasing the grain into the water. I think by the end of the this set of wave runs it looked like she had gone swimming. Now this is dedication if you ask me!

  Well, as you can see in the picture below, Diane basically went for a swim looking for that "Smart Sand Grain".

But in the end, we had success. Diane found the grain by feeling around the bottom of the bed with her foot. Even though she may be cold and wet, she is still smiling. Nice work Diane!

Day #6 Gelukkig Maandag (Happy Monday)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today has been beautiful! They were calling for 80% chance of rain today, and it only drizzled for a few minutes. So, I enjoyed a nice dry bike ride to and from the flume today.

As I have mentioned before, there is a lot of prep-work that goes into an experiment like this; such as tweaking and moving various instruments, and sensors for most of the researchers. We spent the first 2.5 hours of the today shifting all three of our stations in the swash zone up the beach because the beach had become so eroded after our wave runs on Friday. Other researchers with instruments in the surf zone had to dive out to make adjustments to their equipment. Below is a picture of Dr. Daniel Conley (Associate Professor at Plymouth University), Dr. Jack Puleo (Associate Professor at the University of Delaware), Thijs Lanckriet (PhD Candidate at the University of Delaware), and Dr. Diane Foster (Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire) working on moving their equipment this morning.

Instruments such as the Conductivity Concentration Profilers (CCP's), that stick into the ground in the swash zone, had to be move as well. The CCP's measure the conductivity within a volume around the sensor and that conductivity is related to the sediment concentration in the water. Below is a picture of Dr. Jack Puleo (Associate Professor at the University of Delaware) digging trenches for his CCP's instruments to go into.

Below is a picture of Dr. Diane Foster (Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire) helping Dr. Jack Puleo (Associate Professor at the University of Delaware) place his CCP instruments into the sand just below one of the Vectrino II's at one of the three stations in the swash zone. The Vectrino II's measure the velocity of the sediments in the water.

As were were shifting our instruments in the flume, we also had to take a survey of their new location before we start running waves for the day. Below is a picture of Dr. Gerd Masselink (Project Investigator (PI) of this Bardex II research project at the flume, and Professor at the University of Plymouth) helping with taking surveys of the new positions of the instruments in the flume.

After we finished surveying the instruments, we had four sets of 30 minute irregular wave runs. In between the wave runs, we again hopped down the ladder into the flume to take measurements, and make any needed adjustments to the sensors.

This afternoon, I also had two successful Skype sessions again with students from Oyster River Middle School in Durham, New Hampshire, U.S.A. Because of the six hour time difference, it was just the start of the school day for them. The first session I talked with 5th graders from Sunny Sadana's classroom on the Mountain Lion team. They were able to see part of a wave run, as well as have the opportunity to speak with me, Dr. Diane Foster (Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire), and Dr. Ian Turner (originally from the UK who is an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales, in Australia). The students asked tons of great questions. I have listed below their questions and the answers to them just in case people are interested in reading them.

Questions and answers that the 5th grade students asked during our Skype Session:

1. How do you make the waves in the flume?
It depends on how much they move the paddle in the flume; similar to when you sit in a bathtub and make waves with your feet or hands.
2 Is the flume like a wave pool at a water park?
It sure is to some degree since we are making the waves.
3. How deep is the water?
The water is 3 meters deep offshore in the flume.
4. How deep is the sand?
The sand is 4.5 meters deep right where the ladder is that we use to get into the flume.
5. What is the largest wave you can produce?
The largest wave that can be produced in the flume is 1 meter in height.
6. How long ago was the flume built?
The flume was built on August 21st 1980.
7. Wouldn't there be a difference between river water and salt water waves in your research?
Yes, there would be a difference between fresh river water and salt water. Salt water is more dense contains more bubbles than fresh water which can affect the optical instruments, also salt water has more conductivity than fresh water and some of our instruments measure the conductivity in the water.
8. What are the black and white circular disks that are on the top of the flume?
The disks are called ground control boards which help give an exact location of what we are filming with our cameras.
9. Can you surf the waves or play in the them in the flume?
Because the flume has narrow hard concrete walls, it would probably be a dangerous activity for inside the flume.
10. Are there any animals (plankton etc.) that you put in the water to better simulate the ocean?
No, we have not put any animals in the water for this experiment. We are strictly looking at how waves change the shape of a beach, and create beach erosion.
11. Where is the water stored behind the there a tank?
There is a fixed body of water that is being forced into the flume by a pump.

Later in the afternoon, I had another successful Skype session with 7th graders on the Fusion team in Stephanie Ward's classroom. They too, were able to see a wave run, and had the opportunity to talk with me, Dr. Diane Foster (Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire), Dr. Jack Puleo (Associate Professor at the University of Delaware), and Dr. Martin Anderson (Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales). The students also had the opportunity to see first-hand the measurements, and adjustments that can be made in between wave runs. The students thought of great questions for us to answer which I have written down below as well if anyone is interested in reading them.

Questions and answers that the 7th grade students asked during our Skype Session:

1. Is the sand all the same size in the flume (uniform)?
No, the sand is not uniform in the flume. There is a mixture of coarse and fine sediments in the flume.
2. How do you get the water into and out of the flume? 
There is a big pump that is forcing the water into the flume.
3. Does the fact that you are not using salt water affect the results?
Yes, salt  water is more dense and contains more bubbles than fresh water that can affect the optical instruments that are being used in the flume. Also, salt water has more conductivity than fresh water which can affect our instruments that measure sediment conductivity in the water.
4. What are the black and white disks on the side of the flume?
The black and white disks are called ground control boards which allow our camera to get an exact reading of what were are filming.
5. Are you using any other type of obstructions like larger rocks or rip rap in this experiment?
No, we are not using any obstructions. With this experiment we are strictly looking at how waves change beaches over time.
6. How many more days will the experiment run?
The experiment will run until July 4th. Diane and myself will be here until Saturday, June 16th.
7. Will you be there for the clean out of the flume?
Unfortunately, Diane and I will not be here to help clean out the flume at the end of the experiment.
8. Have you used the smart grains that you showed us?
We are not yet used the smart grains in the flume. Hopefully we will place them into the flume on Wednesday. We are just trying to figure out the best way to release them into the flume without losing them in the deep offshore part of the flume and without bumping into other instruments in the flume.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day #5 Another Day of Waves

Friday, June 8, 2012

 I enjoyed another beautiful bike ride to the flume this morning! I could really get used to biking to work everyday; it is a great way to start the day. At the flume, we started wave runs this morning at 9:30 am after some instrument tweaking from yesterday. We will be doing seven waves runs today total, with five being irregular waves runs in sets of 30 minutes, and one 5 minute long run of monochromatic waves, and 5 minutes of long run of bichromatic waves. I just learned the terms monochromatic and bichromatic waves today. With monochromatic waves each wave has the same height and length (shape), while with bichromatic waves there are two different shaped waves that are repeated over and over again. Below is just another picture of waves from first thing this morning at the flume.

 Just like yesterday, in between each wave run we must climb down the ladder into the flume to take the measurements of our instruments at all three stations, and determine whether we must adjust the height of each instrument depending on whether we observe beach erosion or accretion (which is the opposite of erosion, the process of new layers being slowly added). I, again have the important job of being the log recorder of the measurements, adjustments, and other general observations for each run. As with all science experiments, it is critical to make careful observations, and adjustments and make sure that each are recorded. The picture below with Dr. Jack Puleo and Dr. Diane Foster shows an example of what some of the instruments may look like after a run before we adjust them. If you look at the long instrument that is touching the sand next to Dr. Jack Puleo's (in the yellow hard hat) foot, this is just one example of how we are clearly going to need to make an adjustment by raising the instrument up so that it will be just above the sand.

The picture below shows Dr. Diane Foster, Dr. Jack Puleo, and Thijs Lanckriet raising an instrument ever so slightly at one of our stations.

This is a lot of work! Not only do we need to raise instruments that are attached to the metal bars that you see above, but we also need to dig out instruments in the sand to adjust their height relative to the sand level due to erosion or accretion of the sand on the beach. Below shows a picture of both Dr. Jack Puleo and Thijs Lanckcriet adjusting instruments called CCP's in the sand.

So, as you can see from the pictures we have a lot of different instruments in the flume measuring different factors that effect beach erosion. All of those instruments are hooked up to computers to collect data that will be analyzed by each of the researchers. Below is a picture of Dr. Charlie Thompson, and Hachem Kassem showing me the data that is being generated by their offshore instruments that they will need to analyze. Wow, this data being produced can look intimidating, but Charlie is doing a great job of explaining to me what the computer is showing her about the ripple movement in the water. She is a great teacher!

I had a Skype distance learning experience with 7th graders on the Fushion team at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, New Hampshire in the United States with Diane's Ipad. We were running short wave runs when we were talking, so they only got to see a few waves, and then they were in and out of the flume with us while we were measuring our instruments, and checking to see if they needed to be adjusted between the sets. They had a roller coaster of a ride. Below is a picture of Dr. Diane Foster and me with the Ipad talking to the students in the flume.

So, I posted a video below of the monochromatic wave sets the students missed during their fire drill that happened in the middle of our Skype session.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Day #4 Wave Action

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Today has been another fantastic day at the flume! The weather has been cooperating, and everyone is enjoying listening and watching the waves roll into the flume. We have done seven sets of wave runs, that have been generating some great data. The wave runs started out running in sets of 10 minutes, then sets of 20 minutes, followed by two sets of 30 minutes of waves. Below is a picture of what they waves look like rolling down the flume.

In between the wave runs, Dr. Jack Puleo (originally from California, who is an Associate Professor at the University of Delaware), Dr. Diane Foster (who is an Associate Professor at the University of New Hampshire), Dr. Daniel Conley (Associate Professor at Plymouth University), Thijs Lanckriet (originally from Belgium, who is a PhD. Candidate from the University of Delaware), and I climb down the ladder as quickly as we can to check out equipment, and see if we need to make any adjustments to them before the next run. We have three stations set up, each station has multiple different instruments that are measuring sediment movement, and velocity in the swash zone where the waves roll in and out. I have become the designated recorder of the measurements, and adjustments in the lab notebook, which I have enjoyed quite a bit. I am definitely getting a better understanding of how, and what is being measured with each instrument. Below is a picture of waves rolling over two of our three stations.

Then you can see me diligently recording measurements from Thijs.

Diane and I had a successful distance learning experience with the 7th grade students on the Denali team at Oyster River Middle School in Durham, New Hampshire in the United States this afternoon. We used Diane's Ipad to Skype in with the students during the school day. It is a six hour time difference between the two countries, so we called them at 2:00 pm our time, which was only 8:00 am in the United States. The students were able to see a wave run in the flume, were introduced to several of the different scientists, and had the chance to ask several questions they had about our research in the flume. I think it was a great experience for all. I look forward to our next Skype session tomorrow with the other 7th grade team Fusion at Oyster River Middle School. As a science teacher, I believe that it is important for students to have the opportunity to experience, and see first-hand real scientific research in action. So they can develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for the time and energy that goes into producing sound research.

Day #2: Goedemiddag ("KHOO duh midakh") -- Good afternoon

 Tuesday, June 5, 2012

So here is the picture of the flume, without water in it, that I promised you all. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but it is absolutely huge!

Today there has been no rain; yahoo! I also enjoyed a nice bike ride to and from the flume. It has been a beautiful, and productive day in the Flume. All of the scientists have been quickly working to set up their experiments in the flume today, because they are going to start filling the flume with water today (it takes about 8 hours to fill). They only have today, and tomorrow to get their experiments set up, and working before we start producing some waves in the flume on Thursday and Friday. All of the equipment has to be set up in a precise manner, and location for the data to be collected properly, and to have accurate data. So, it is a lot of prep-work! Below is a Picture of Dr. Tim Scott (originally from England) who is surveying the location of equipment being placed in the flume. Tim is a post-Doc research scientist from Plymouth University in England. 

I spent the day helping various people setting up their experiments in the flume. We have scientists studying a wide variety of factors involved in beach erosion. Some scientists such as Dr. Charlie Thompson (an Oceanographer and research fellow from the University of Southampton in England), and Hachem Kassem (originally from Lebanon, who also attends the University of Southampton as a Coastal Engineer) are setting up their experiments in the zone that is considered offshore that occurs before the wave breaks. They are looking at wave turbulence, ripple movement, and sediment in the water. Below is a picture Hachem with their equipment they set up in the flume.

Then further up the in more shallow waters, (the surf zone), Vinny Winnie, (from the Netherlands who attends the University of Utrechet in the netherlands) Daan Wesselman, (Also from the Netherlands who attends the University of Utrechet)  and Florent Grasso (orginally from France but now attends the University of Utrechet as well) are using optical sensors (using light) to measure sediment concentration and velocity in the water. Below, I have a picture of what their equipment looks like as it is being set up.

I spent a good part of the day helping Dr. Martin Anderson (originally from Denmark, who is a Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Australia), Dan Howe (an Australian, who is a graduate candidate at the University of New South Wales in Australia), Dr. Gabriel Rau (originally from Germany, who is a Post Doc fellow at the University of New South Wales in Australia), and Patrick Lawless (an Australian, who is a Masters student at the University of New South Wales as well). They were setting up several cube-like contraptions that will be buried (4 total) in the sand, and be used to measure water flow rates in the barrier (beneath the sand). Below is a picture of us working on connecting the sensors to it (I am in the blue jacket in case you didn't see me). Then below that, is a picture of  Dan digging a hole to place two of them in. Tomorrow they are going to have to a dig an even deeper hole further up where it is more shallow to place the other two instruments in.

Today was another great day at the Flume! Feel free to post questions on my blog or e-mail me ( about the project, specific equipment we are using, questions for the scientists, and anything about life and culture abroad. I will try and answer your questions as quickly as possible.