Here we explore the Critical Zone that encompasses the lowermost groundwater to the atmosphere that meets the earth. Exchanges between rock, water, soil, and living things that are critical to our sustainability. To understand the importance of this zone to us, this blog will focus on Critical Zone processes in Springfield, Ohio, our home.
“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.
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.
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.