Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How We Analyze Ions

“A process of critical thinking that uses observations and experiments to investigate testable predictions about the physical universe.” By using the scientific method throughout our class experiment we have attempted to dissect the more complex issue into smaller parts to help us better understand our experiment and purpose.  We want to know does this high resolution small scale experiment help us understand trends for the large scale rivers that serve as tributaries to Buck Creek. The steps of the method we have used in our tests are choosing a guiding question to go along with our controlled experiment to seek out the big picture in our study.  Our hypothesis or guiding question is by examining Buck Creek and its surrounding wetlands does the water quality improve with increased nitrogen and more organisms as the water travels its course through the sub-tributaries of the river. To investigate our hypothesis we have put in place procedures of sampling and recording our results to put together a data set we can show and interpret at GSA. 

We have collected ion concentrations by using an automatic sampling ion chromatograph(pictured above).  An ion chromatograph analyzes the concentrations of various ions that are in the samples.  This is done by using standard solutions that we create with concentrations within the expected range for each ion.  The chromatograph then uses these standard solutions to create an equation to find the concentrations of the unknown samples.    As the sample travels through the machine each ion travels at different speeds and the machine measures this speed and produces peeks(sample peaks pictured below).  The area is then found and can correlate to what the concentrations of the ions are. 

With the small scale data we can observe how our local impact is affecting the larger tributaries such as the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

-Beth and Grant

Sources used:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wetland Sampling Sites

The scientific method is defined as, “The principles and empirical processes of discovery and demonstration considered characteristic of or necessary for scientific investigation, generally involving the observation of phenomena, the formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomena, experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis, and a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.”

We have already formulated our hypothesis and have submitted it to GSA.  We have read several articles that have proven our hypothesis.  We are curious to see if we will get the same results dealing with a much smaller area that we can then apply to a larger scale.  Currently we are in the process of experimenting in order to demonstrate the truth or falseness of our hypothesis about the Municipal Stadium Wetland. 

Each pin in this photo represents a place that we have
taken a water sample.

Our question about this wetland is whether or not it will act as a filter to Buck Creek by removing some nutrients that are overloaded by agricultural inputs. We chose this question by reading other scientific articles about this topic.  In the articles we read we found out that the nitrogen to silica ratio is very important to sustaining aquatic life.  We believe that this ratio will become more balanced once it has had time to filter through the wetland before flowing back into Buck Creek.  In order to test whether or not our hypothesis is true we have taken many water samples in different places throughout the wetland.  By spacing the samples out we hope to get a better idea about how the ratio of nitrogen to silica, as well as other nutrients, react as it passes through different areas of the wetland.  We took many samples at the inlet, outlet, and middle areas of the wetland to see if there was a change relative to location.  We hope that our local data will be able to contribute to the big picture.  Then we may be able to see how smaller tributaries can affect larger rivers, and ultimately the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico.     

By, Lexi Crisp and TJ Mobley 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Scientific Method and Water Processing

The scientific method is the process by which scientists seek to construct an accurate representation of the world.  The first step of the scientific method is to observe and describe some sort of scientific phenomena.  The second step is to formulate a hypothesis to describe the observed phenomena.  Next, the hypothesis is used to predict the existence of other scientific phenomena.  Finally, a set of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters are designed to test the hypothesis (http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/phy_labs/appendixe/appendixe.html).

The guiding question for this study is: how does the Municipal Stadium Wetland affect the water quality of the water from Buck Creek?  This question was chosen to mirror a study performed by Heidelberg University in the Great Miami River.  The hypothesis is that the wetland improves the water quality of Buck Creek by filtering out dissolved silica and dissolved inorganic nitrogen, as well as excess anions and cations from Buck Creek.  We are testing this hypothesis by collecting both spatial and temporal (diurnal) samples from the Municipal Stadium Wetland and Buck Creek.  A diurnal sample occurs over a 24 hour period, with a sample being collected hourly.  These samples were collected by an auto-sampler.  The spatial samples were collected manually, by randomly chosing 30 sampling locations within both the wetland and Buck Creek.  Sample contamination was prevented by wearing gloves and rinsing sample bottles three times prior to collection.  After collection, samples were filtered and pH was measured.  The attached photo is the filtration set up.  Filtration was used to remove sediment from the water sample.  pH was tested using a digital pH probe.  Following filtration, samples were run through an Ion Chromatograph.  This data will contribute to a larger data set of the Ohio River watershed.