Monday, February 26, 2018

Episode 409 (2-26-18): The Underground World of Buried "Ghost Streams"


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:26).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-23-18.
 

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 26, 2018.

MUSIC – ~9 sec

This week, that excerpt from “Rusty Piper” by the Blacksburg- and Roanoke-based band No Strings Attached opens an episode about an ecosystem hidden in pipes.  For that story, I'm joined by guest host Brynn O’Donnell.

This week we’re diving down to explore an ecosystem hidden beneath the ground, and learn about how our actions in towns can affect water bodies downstream.  Have a listen for about 10 seconds to this mystery sound, and see if you can guess what underground ecosystem you’re hearing.

SOUND - ~8 sec – Branch of Stoubles Creek under Draper Road in Blacksburg, Feb. 10, 2018

If you guessed a buried stream, you’re right!

Take note of your feet, and feel how the soles of your shoes press up against the floor—hard to imagine you've been walking on water, right?

In downtown Blacksburg, Va., that’s exactly what people are doing.  The stream you heard runs under buildings, sidewalks, and roadways, and most people don’t even realize it’s there.  In many cities and towns, an entire aquatic ecosystem flows similarly under the pavement—an invisible network of “ghost streams,” streams that once used to run above ground, but we’ve now buried in pipes so that we could construct buildings on top.  Humans have been burying streams since the Roman Empire, but we still don’t fully understand what happens when we do that.  How these streams have changed, and the impacts of those changes on downstream waterways, is the focus of my research at Virginia Tech.

Although we’ve buried these streams, we haven’t quite put them to rest.  Ghost streams are still beneath us, and still flowing, but they’re drastically changed from a more natural stream.  Such buried streams aren’t exposed to light or freely moving air, impacting organisms typically on the bottom of a stream or growing alongside of one.

If you recall the process of photosynthesis, plants need light, air, and nutrients to grow.  And although we don’t normally think of algae in streams as plants, they conduct photosynthesis, too, and they’re important components of natural streams, particularly in the use of nutrients.  Without light inside pipes, algae and streamside plants can’t survive.  With no life, buried streams can’t remove nutrients, so any nutrients that run off from cities into these streams are shuttled straight downstream.  This helps lead to nutrient buildups in downstream lakes, ponds, or other water bodies, in turn causing too much algae growth.  While algae perform important functions, other life is harmed by an algae over-abundance, such as when one sees a thick, green sludge on top of lakes or ponds.

With this possible sequence of events, sometimes it seems as if ghost streams are haunting us.  But moving forward through research and learning more about buried streams, we can understand how to mitigate their impact by promoting the retention of nutrients and the revitalization of life.

Thanks to No Strings Attached for permission to use this week’s music, and as a note to stream ecosystems buried beneath us in pipes, we close with a few more seconds of “Rusty Piper.”

MUSIC - ~14 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.   In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This week’s script was based on Brynn O’Donnell’s November 4, 2017, presentation of her research in the Nutshell Games, conducted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Communicating Science.  A video of that presentation is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8QkWhXrbLk.  As of February 2018, Brynn was a master’s student in the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Sciences.  For more information about Brynn’s work with buried streams, contact her at brynno@vt.edu. Virginia Water Radio thanks Brynn for developing and hosting this episode.

The sounds heard in this episode were of a branch of Stroubles Creek flowing under Draper Road in Blacksburg, Va., recorded on February 10, 2018; footsteps were heard in the audio because the stream at that point is under a staircase between the street and sidewalk.

Flying Cloud Reel/Rusty Piper,” by No Strings Attached, is from the 1999 album “In the Vinyl Tradition—Volume I,” from Enessay Music, used with permission.  More information about No Strings Attached is available online at http://www.enessay.com/ and at https://www.facebook.com/the.no.strings.attached.  This music was part of Episode 315, 5-9-16, on sandpipers.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com. 

PHOTOS

A branch of Stroubles Creek emerging from underground on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.  Photo courtesty of Brynn O’Donnell.
A branch of Stroubles Creek under Draper Road in Blacksburg, Va., February 10, 2018 (site of the audio used in this episode of Virginia Water Radio).

SOURCES USED FOR AUDIO AND OFFERING MORE INFORMATION

Used for Audio
Virginia Tech Center for Communicating Science, online at https://communicatingscience.isce.vt.edu/.

For More Information about Buried Streams
Jake J. Beaulieu et al., “Urban Stream Burial Increases Watershed-Scale Nitrate Export,” PLOS One, July 17, 2015, online at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0132256#pone-0132256-g004.

Amy Trice/American Rivers, “Daylighting Streams: Breathing Life Into Urban Streams And Communities” (undated), online at https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/daylighting-streams-breathing-life-urban-streams-communities/.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). See particularly the “Science” subject category.

Other episodes on streams include the following:
stream assessment with aquatic macroinvertebrates – Episode 81, 9/26/11;
stream flow measurement – Episode 324, 7/11/16;
stream/river channel energy and patterns – Episode 248, 1/12/15;
streamside insect and spider sampling – Episode 336, 10/3/16;

Other episodes on research by college students in Virginia include the following:
antibiotic resistance – Episode 290, 11/16/15;
avian malaria – Episode 259, 3/30/15;
Emerald Ash Borer – Episode 376, 7/10/17;
headwater streams – Episode 397, 12/4/17;
oysters and nitrogen – Episode 280, 9/7/15;
soils and greenhouse gases – Episode 312, 4/18/16.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

The episode may help with Virginia 2013 Music SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

This episode may also help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decision, hazard mitigation, cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
4.5 - ecosystem interactions and human influences on ecosystem.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.6 - ecosystem interactions, including the water cycle, other cycles, and energy flow.
LS.11 - relationships between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science Course
ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs:

Civics and Economics Course
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade;
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade; Episode 406 (2-5-18) – on ice on rivers, for middle school;
Episode 407 (2-12-19)
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Episode 408 (2-19-18): A Frog and Toad Medley


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (3:27).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-19-18.
 

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 19, 2018.

SOUND - ~5 sec – rainfall in Blacksburg, Va., April 21, 2015

This week, that sound of a Virginia spring rain opens an episode on creatures who show up, sound off, and pair up every year, especially in spring, in temporary ponds and other water bodies.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds to a series of mystery sounds, and see if you can guess what animals are making this variety of clucks, peeps, trills, and croaks.   And here’s a hint: when spring rains come, Virginia’s waters start jumping with these creatures.

SOUNDS - ~40 sec

If you guessed frogs or toads, you’re right!  Those were the calls of nine frogs and two toads, part of Virginia’s 27 native species of these two groups of amphibians.  As early as late January in the Commonwealth, some species—like the Wood Frog and Spring Peeper—move from overwintering habitats to temporary pools or other wet areas, where males use distinctive calls to attract females for breeding.  As spring and summer progress, Virginia’s ponds, rivers, and other aquatic areas resonate with chorus frogs, tree frogs, pickerel frogs, leopard frogs, bullfrogs, green frogs, and several kinds of toads.

Whether or not the weather at the moment looks or feels like spring, frog and toad calls are sure signs of seasonal changes in the air, on the land, and in the water.

Thanks to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and to Lang Elliott for permission to use several of this week’s sounds.

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This episode revises and replaces Episode 148, 2-11-13.

The calls heard in this week’s audio were the following (in order heard):
Wood Frog, Spring Peeper, American Toad and Spring Peeper chorus, Mountain Chorus Frog, Pickerel Frog, American Bullfrog, Carpenter Frog, Fowler’s Toad, Northern Cricket Frog, Green Frog, and Gray Treefrog.

The sounds of the Mountain Chorus Frog, American Bullfrog, and Carpenter Frog were excerpted from The Calls of Virginia Frogs and Toads” CD, copyright 2008 by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and Lang Elliott/NatureSoundStudio, used with permission.  The CD is part of the VDGIF’s A Guide to the Frogs and Toads of Virginia.  For more information, visit https://www.shopdgif.com/product.cfm?uid=1928838&context=&showInactive=N, or contact VDGIF at 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230; phone: (804) 367-1000 (VTDD); e-mail: dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov.   Lang Elliott’s work is available online at the “Music of Nature” Web site, http://www.musicofnature.org/.

The other amphibian sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio, as follows (again in the order heard in the episode):
Wood Frog – Huckleberry Trail near Christiansburg, Va., March 9, 2014;
Spring Peeper – Blacksburg, Va., March 13, 2010;
American Toad and Spring Peeper chorus – Blacksburg, Va., March 29, 2010;
Pickerel Frog – Peaks of Otter/Blue Ridge Parkway, April 19, 2011;
Fowler’s Toad – Along James River near Howardsville, Va., July 12, 2009;
Northern Cricket Frog – Along the Potomac River/C&O Canal Towpath near Boyd’s Landing, Md., July 10, 2010;
Green Frog - Leesburg, Va., June 28, 2010;
Gray Treefrog – Blacksburg, Va., June 10, 2011;

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode. More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

PHOTOS

Shallow, temporary ponds, such as this one in Blacksburg, Va. (Montogmery County) on February 18, 2018, offer breeding habitat for frogs and other amphibians.
This Fowler’s Toad was calling beside the James River near Howardsville, Va. (Albemarle County), on July 12, 2009.
This Green Frog was found in an artificial pond at a residence in Blacksburg, Va., April 29, 2007.
SOURCES

Used for Audio

John D. Kleopfer and Chris S. Hobson, A Guide to the Frogs and Toad of Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Special Publication Number 3, Richmond, Va., 2011.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Fish and Wildlife Information Service,” online at http://vafwis.org/fwis/?Title=VaFWIS+Species+Information+By+Name&vUT=Visitor.

For More Information about Virginia Amphibians

B.S. Martof et. al., Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980.

J.C. Mitchell and K.K. Reay, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, Va., 1999.

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, “Virginia is for Frogs,” online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/virginia-is-for-frogs/.

Virginia Herpetological Society, online at http://www.virginiaherpetologicalsociety.com/.

Herbert S. Zim and Hobart M. Smith, Golden Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians, Golden Books, New York, N.Y., 1987.

For an account of Spring Peepers, their connection to ephemeral spring ponds, and the importance of amphibians generally, please see "Vernal ponds spring to life with peepers' serenades," in the April 2013 issue of Bay Journal.

For more information about amphibians breeding in ephemeral ponds in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, please see Catch the spring action at a vernal pool near you, Bay Journal, 2/8/18.  This article includes a list of local parks and other areas in the Bay watershed areas of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania that sponsor amphibian monitoring or viewing events.

If you’re interested in amphibians and particularly in frog calls, you might want to consider volunteering for the Virginia Frog and Toad Calling Survey, coordinated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  See information online at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/frogsurvey/, or contact the department at (804) 367-1000.  The Virginia program is part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.  These programs use the sensitivity of amphibians to water quality as a tool for assessing changes or threats to aquatic systems.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “Amphibians” subject category.

Listed below are previous episodes on specific frogs or toads.
Barking Treefrog – Episode 319, 6/6/16;
Bullfrog – Episode 74, 8/8/11;
Carpenter Frog – Episode 148, 2/11/13;
Eastern Spadefoot – Episode 357, 2/27/17;
Gray Tree Frog – Episode 323, 7/4/16 (July 4 “debate”);
Green Frog – Episode 310, 4/4/16;
Spring Peeper – Episode 105, 4/2/12.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs) AND OTHER INFORMATION

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Life Processes Theme
K.7 – basic needs and processes of plants and animals.
1.5 - animals’ basic needs and distinguishing characteristics.
2.4 - life cycles.
3.4 - behavioral and physiological adaptations.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
3.6 - ecosystems, communities, populations, shared resources.
5.5 - cell structures and functions, organism classification, and organism traits.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Life Science Course
LS.4 - organisms’ classification based on features.
LS.8 - community and population interactions, including food webs, niches, symbiotic relationships.

Biology Course
BIO.8 - dynamic equilibria and interactions within populations, communities, and ecosystems; including nutrient cycling, succession, effects of natural events and human activities, and analysis of the flora, fauna, and microorganisms of Virginia ecosystems.

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250 (1-26-15) – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255 (3-2-15) – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282 (9-21-15) – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309 (3-28-16) – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332 (9-12-16) – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade;
Episode 403 (1-15-18) – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 404 (1-22-18) – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade;
Episode 406 (2-5-18) – on ice on rivers, for middle school;
Episode 407 (2-12-19) – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Episode 407 (2-12-18): Snow Shows Chemistry and Physics at Work


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:08).


Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-9-18.


TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO

From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 12, 2018.  We’re joined this week by guest host Saalehah Habeebah, the spring 2018 intern at the Virginia Water Resources Research Center.

SOUND – ~14 sec

This week, that excerpt from a NOAA Weather Radio advisory for parts of southwestern Virginia on February 3, 2018, opens a freezing-water episode intended especially for Virginia high school science students.  Have a listen for about 40 seconds to a series of mystery sounds, and see if you can guess two basic sciences that are at work when winter turns the landscape white.

SOUNDS - ~40 sec

If you guessed chemistry and physics, you’re right!  You heard a snow shovel, snowmelt salt pellets, and another NOAA Weather Radio excerpt, this time from January 29, 2014, about melting and refreezing potential after an Appalachian snowfall.  The impacts of a snowfall—on transportation, recreation, and water supplies—depend on weather conditions interacting with chemical and physical properties of water and of surfaces and substances in contact with the snow.  One of these properties is snow density, that is, how much water any given snow contains. Snow density determines how much liquid water may result from a given snowpack.  Also, three energy-related properties play key roles in what happens to snow: first, the melting point of water with and without dissolved substances, such as snowmelt salt; second, the light-absorbing and –reflecting capacities of different colors and substances; and third, the capacity of snow and adjacent surfaces to absorb, emit, and conduct heat.  These energy-related properties, combined with snow density, affect how fast the snow will disappear, either by melting or sublimating—that is, turning into vapor without first melting; and whether melted water will evaporate or refreeze onto roadways or sidewalks

Snow chemistry and physics are complicated.   But they affect us in very practical ways, such as the recharge of your water supplies by winter snows; the effectiveness of snow-melting chemicals; and the timing for shoveling a sidewalk to get a dry, clear surface instead of a slippery, refrozen glaze.

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This Virginia Water Radio episode revises and replaces Episode 199, 2-3-14.

The excerpts from National Weather Service (NWS) winter-weather messages on the mornings of Februrary 3, 2018, and January 29, 2014, were recorded by Virginia Water Radio from broadcasts on those days by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio, WXL 60 from the NWS’ Blacksburg, Va., Forecast Office. Information from that office is available online at http://www.weather.gov/rnk/.  Information about NOAA Weather Radio is available online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/.

Thanks to Kevin McGuire, Virginia Water Resources Research Center, for providing advice and information for this episode.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

PHOTOS

A sampler of snow scenes around Blacksburg, Va., on January 17 (top three) and February 4 (bottom two), 2018.

 

EXTRA FACTS ABOUT SNOWMELT AND WATER SUPPLIES

Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Water Science School/Snowmelt—The Water Cycle,” online at https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesnowmelt.html [bolding added by Virginia Water Radio].

“If you live in Florida or on the French Riviera you might not wake up everyday wondering how melting snow contributes to the water cycle.   But, in the world-wide scheme of the water cycle, runoff from snowmelt is a major component of the global movement of water.  Of course, the importance of snowmelt varies greatly geographically, and in warmer climates it does not directly play a part in water availability.  In the colder climates, though, much of the springtime runoff and streamflow in rivers is attributable to melting snow and ice.

“Mountain snow fields act as natural reservoirs for many western United States water-supply systems, storing precipitation from the cool season, when most precipitation falls and forms snowpacks, until the warm season when most or all snowpacks melt and release water into rivers.  As much as 75 percent of water supplies in the western states are derived from snowmelt.

“During certain times of the year water from snowmelt can be responsible for almost all of the streamflow in a river.  An example is the South Platte River in Colorado and Nebraska. Historically, the South Platte River was essentially ‘turned off’ after the supply of water coming from melting snow was exhausted in late spring.  Today, though, seepage of irrigation water from ditches and fields replenishes the alluvial aquifer (water-bearing deposit of sand and gravel left behind by a river) during spring and summer, and the aquifer slowly drains during fall and winter by discharging groundwater to the South Platte River.   Indirectly, your buying a loaf of wheat bread in the grocery store helps to keep water flowing in the South Platte River all year long.”

SOURCES

Used for Audio

David R. DeWalle and Albert Rango, Principles of Snow Hydrology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2008.

Nolan J. Doesken and Arthur Judson, The Snow Booklet: A Guide to the Science, Climatology, and Measurement of Snow in the United States, Colorado State University Department of Atmospheric Science, Fort Collins, Colo., 1997.

James C. Halfpenny and Roy Douglas Ozanne, Winter: An Ecological Handbook, Johnson Publishing Company, Boulder, Colo., 1989.

Ken Libbrecht, Field Guide to Snowflakes, Voyageur Press, St. Paul, Minn., 2006.

Natural Resources Conservation Service and National Water and Climate Center, “Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) and Snow Course Data and Products," online at http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snow/.  This site provides information on the system of measuring snow pack and its water equivalent in the western United States.

Kimberley Waldron, The Chemistry of Everything, Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J., 2007; see p. 266 for “Why is Salt Used to Melt Ice on Wintry Roads?”

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “Water Science School/Snowmelt—The Water Cycle,” online at https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesnowmelt.html; and b) “Water Science School/Sublimation—The Water Cycle,” online at https://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesublimation.html.

Sources for Snow Measurements in Virginia and Neighboring Areas

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network (CoCoRaHaS), “Virginia Daily Precipitation Reports,” online at http://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=va.  Following are the main CoCoRaHs links for states neighboring Virginia, plus the District of Columbia:
D.C.: https://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=dc.
Maryland: https://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=md.
Kentucky: https://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=ky.
North Carolina: https://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=nc.
Tennessee: https://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=tn.
West Virginia: https://www.cocorahs.org/state.aspx?state=wv.

National Weather Service, “Observed Weather Reports”: Blacksburg, Va., Forecast Office, online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk; Morristown, Tenn., Forecast Office (serving far southwestern Virginia), online http://www.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=mrx; Baltimore-Washington Forecast Office, online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=lwx; and Wakefield, Va., Forecast Office, online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=akq.

National Weather Service/Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, online at http://water.weather.gov/precip/.  This site provides maps of precipitation nationwide or by state, with capability to show county boundaries, and archives available for specific days, months, or years.

National Weather Service, “Winter Weather Forecasts,” online at http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/wwd/winter_wx.shtml.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See the “Science” subject category for episodes on physical states of water, and the “Weather” subject category for episodes on frost, ice, or snow.

This week’s episode is the fourth in a series in 2018 on freezing water, designed for specific grade levels of Virginia science students. The episodes in the series are as follows:
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th grade through 8th grade;
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school;
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Another previous episode on snow is Episode 300, 1/25/16, on words for snow in various languages.

Following are links to other previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels:
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade;

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs)

This episode targets the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs for the Chemistry and Physics courses:

Chemistry Course
CH.5 – phases of matter, kinetic theory, and forces of attraction, including pressure, temperature, and volume principles and laws.

Physics Course
PH.4 – applications of physics to the real word, including roles of science and technology.
PH.7 – energy transfer, transformations, and capacity to do work, including chemical, electromagnetic, mechanical, and thermal energy.

Following are Science SOLs for other grades or courses that may also be supported by this episode:

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
K.5 – water properties, including flowing, objects floating or sinking, and water occurring in different phases.
2.3 – properties of solids, liquids, and gases.
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water.
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere, including weather topics.

Physical Science Course
PS.2 – nature of matter, including elements and compounds, states of matter, physical and chemical properties.
PS.7 – temperature, heat, and thermal energy transfer, including phase changes, melting point, etc.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – weather and climate.

Biology Course
BIO.2 – water chemistry and its impact on life processes.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Episode 406 (2-5-18): Ice on the River


CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:35).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 2-2-18.
 

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of February 5, 2018.

MUSIC – ~8 sec

This week, that excerpt of “Cold World,” by Kat Mills of Blacksburg, Va., opens a freezing-water episode intended especially for Virginia middle school science students.  Have a listen for about 20 seconds to the following sounds, and see if you can guess what cold-world experience was taking place.   And here’s a hint: the speaker and the water are both on the move.

SOUNDS - ~19 sec

If you guessed, wading into an icy river, you’re right!  You heard me wading—very quickly!—into the partially iced-over New River in Giles County, Va., on January 1, 2018.  After nighttime temperatures in the teens or lower for several days, about half of the river’s surface in some locations on that New Year’s morning was covered in ice.

Rivers throughout Virginia will freeze during notably cold winter spells, but it’s not a routine occurrence.  River freeze-ups are really noteworthy in the tidal sections of the James, Rappahannock, and other Commonwealth rivers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed; in those sections, the water is somewhat salty, called brackish, so it has a lower freezing point.

When rivers do freeze, ice typically forms first at the river edges, where in slow currents surface water can lose heat to colder air and not be mixed with warmer, deeper water.  This border ice can also form in slower currents around rocks or other obstacles well away from shore.  In stronger currents that keep the water mixed, if the whole water column drops just below the freezing point, ice can form around tiny particles; this type of ice is called frazil.  Sometimes frazil gets transported to the river bottom and attaches there, forming what’s known as anchor ice.   If the water keeps losing heat to colder air, these and other kinds of ice can accumulate horizontally and vertically, eventually covering the river and perhaps filling much of its depth.

Ice may also be carried along by the current, particularly after warming temperatures break up a solid ice cover.   If these ice floes get blocked by natural or human-made structures, ice jams can occur.  Ice jams can block a river’s flow, leading possibly to upstream flooding.  And when an ice jam eventually breaks, it can suddenly release large amounts of water and ice, causing possible hazards downstream.

Thanks to Blacksburg friends for recording the New Year’s Day New River wade-in.  Thanks also to Kat Mills for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “Cold World.”

MUSIC - ~18 sec

SHIP’S BELL

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.

AUDIO NOTES AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The New River wade-in sounds were taken from a video recording on January 1, 2018, below McCoy Falls in Giles County, Va.  Thanks to Virginia Water Radio friends Sarah, John, and Alan for making the recording possible.

“Cold World,” on the 2003 album “Long Time,” is copyright by Kat Mills and Sweetcut Music, used with permission.  This music was featured in Virginia Water Radio Episode 253, 2-6-15.  More information about Kat Mills is available online at http://www.sweetcut.com/kat/ and at https://www.facebook.com/katmillsmusic.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Ben Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.

PHOTOS

Virginia Water Radio host Alan Raflo in the New River in Giles County, Va., January 1, 2018.  Photo courtesy of John Imbur.
Ice on the New River at McCoy Falls in Montgomery County, Va., January 1, 2018.
Ice on Goose Creek in Loudoun County, Va., January 20, 2018.
Ice jam in the Potomac River near Washington, D.C., February 1918. Photo from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, accessed online at https://www.loc.gov/item/npc2008011359/. For more historic Potomac River ice photos in the Library of Congress, see https://www.loc.gov/photos/?q=Potomac+River+ice.

EXTRA FACTS ABOUT ICE IN FLOWING WATER

The seriousness of the threats river ice can pose is highlighted in the following information from the National Weather Service, Chicago Forecast Office, “River Ice Spotters Wanted,” online at http://www.weather.gov/lot/River_Ice_Spotters_Wanted, accessed 2/2/18:

“The National Weather Service (NWS) in Chicago/Romeoville, IL, is looking for individuals that live or work along rivers to become part of our River Ice Spotter network.  It consists of ice spotters living or working along area rivers, especially the Kankakee, Fox, Des Plaines, Du Page, Rock and Pecatonica Rivers.  Spotters along other area rivers are welcome to participate as well.  River ice spotters provide valuable data on ice cover and ice jam flooding to our office.  Ice jams can result in rapid and devastating flooding.  Although the NWS does monitor automated river gages, they typically do not accurately reflect the conditions upstream and downstream of a river gage due to the isolated nature of ice jams.  It is also important to know the extent of the current ice cover and other conditions. That kind of information can only be obtained from visual observations.

“Under no circumstances are river ice spotters to actually go out on the ice! Your safety is important to us. Observations should be made from a safe location only.

“River ice spotters will receive training materials that will cover ice formation and ice reporting procedures. Internet access is required. Reports are made every Monday morning before 9:00 am, December 1 through March 31.”

SOURCES USED FOR AUDIO AND OFFERING MORE INFORMATION

Kevin Ambrose, The Potomac River has a history of disastrous ice floes during a rapid thaw, Washington Post, 1/10/18.

Spyros Beltaos, ed., River Ice Jams, Water Resources Publications LLC, Highlands Ranch, Colo., 1995.

Spyros Beltaos, ed., River Ice Breakup, Water Resources Publications LLC, Highlands Ranch, Colo., 2008.

Tamara Dietrich, Arctic blast not enough to freeze James, York rivers, [Newport News, Va.] Daily Press, 2/19/15.

Don M. Gray and Terry D. Prowse, “Snow and Floating Ice,” Chapter 7 of Handbook of Hydrology, David R. Maidment, ed., McGraw-Hill, Inc., New York, N.Y., 1993.

Erica Leayman, Frozen Potomac River, Lakes Show Just How Cold It Is; From boats stuck on the ice to people skating on reflecting pools, here's a visual reminder of the bitter cold around the DC area, Old Town Alexandria [Va.] Patch, 1/3/18.

National Weather Service, Blacksurg, Va., Forecast Office, “Observed Weather Reports/Preliminary Monthly Climate Data for Blacksburg, online at http://w2.weather.gov/climate/index.php?wfo=rnk.

RELATED VIRGINIA WATER RADIO EPISODES

All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See the “Science” subject category for episodes on physical states of water, and the “Weather” subject category for episodes on frost, ice, or snow.

This week’s episode is the third in a series in 2018 on freezing water, designed for specific grade levels of Virginia science students. The episodes in the series are as follows:
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th grade through 8th grade;
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school;
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.

Following are links to previous Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels:
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade;
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten;
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade;
Episode 332, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade;
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade;
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th grade through 8th grade.

FOR VIRGINIA TEACHERS – RELATED STANDARDS OF LEARNING (SOLs)

This episode targets the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs for grade 6 and the Life Science and Physical Science courses:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decision, hazard mitigation, cost/benefit assessments).

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme
6.5 – properties and characteristics of water.
6.6 – Properties of air (including pressure, temperature, and humidity) and structure/dynamics of earth’s atmosphere, including weather topics.

Life Science Course
LS.9 - adaptations for particular ecosystems’ biotic and abiotic factors, including characteristics of land, marine, and freshwater environments.

Physical Science Course
PS.2 – nature of matter, including elements and compounds, states of matter, physical and chemical properties.
PS.7 – temperature, heat, and thermal energy transfer, including phase changes, melting point, etc.

Following are Science SOLs for other grades or courses that may also be supported by this episode:

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.

Grades K-6 Matter Theme

K.5 – water properties, including flowing, objects floating or sinking, and water occurring in different phases.
2.3 – properties of solids, liquids, and gases.

Earth Science Course
ES.12 – weather and climate.

Biology Course
BIO.2 – water chemistry and its impact on life processes.

Chemistry Course
CH.5 – phases of matter, kinetic theory, and forces of attraction, including pressure, temperature, and volume principles and laws.

Physics Course
PH.4 – applications of physics to the real word, including roles of science and technology.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.