Large scale environmental challenges the engineering approach
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LARGE-SCALE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES: THE ENGINEERING APPROACH. Enhance our knowledge base on anthropogenically-stressed, large-scale, geographically-distributed, but interdependent sites.

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Enhance our knowledge base on anthropogenically-stressed, large-scale, geographically-distributed, but interdependent sites.

Exploit new developments in information sensing, imaging, transmission, storage, processing, and visualization.

Focus on the dynamic, interdependent nature of the systems at the sites.

Relate fluxes of materials and energy to anthropogenic impacts, and their evolution over time.

Devise science, engineering and policy options to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts and better manage these sites.

Establish a cybernetwork of Environmental Field Facilities (EFFs) that represent prototypical environments, thereby promoting information exchange to facilitate synthesis and comparative research across all EFFs of the network. This will have a profound impact on the science and practice of decision support for environmental management.

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CLEANERCollaborative Large-scale Engineering Assessment Network for Environmental Research

A cybernetworked infrastructure of Environmental Field Facilities (EFFs) enables development of engineering solutions and policy options for the restoration and protection of environmental resources.

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  • Identify how hierarchies (scale and complexity) of environmental systems and their linkages can be understood through integrated assessment models.

  • Understand the functioning of large-scale, perturbed environmental systems by elucidating stressors that influence the various outcomes, especially through frequent observations facilitated with real-time devices for sensing, data acquisition, data analysis, and data display .

  • Devise vital sign indicators, based on this understanding, both for system condition and early warning.

  • Devise science, engineering and policy options for decision support to prevent and mitigate adverse environmental impacts.

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Sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Systems

Stanford University

Host and Workshop Chair

Professor Richard G. Luthy

December 4-5, 2001

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Stanford University Workshop

December 4 - 5, 2001


Richard G. Luthy, NAE (Workshop Chair)

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Stanford University


Michael D. Aitken

Environmental Science and Engineering

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [President, Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP)]

Lisa Alvarez-Cohen

Civil Engineering

University of California Berkeley

Jacimaria R. Batista

Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of Nevada Las Vegas

Andria M. Costello

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Syracuse University

Janet G. Hering

Environmental Engineering Science

California Institute of Technology

Kimberly L. Jones

Civil Engineering

Howard University

James E. Kilduff

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Sharon C. Long

Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of Massachusetts

Jeanne M. VanBriesen

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Carnegie Mellon University

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Stanford University Workshop

December 4 - 5, 2001

NSF Observers

Dr. Nicholas L. Clesceri

Program Director

Environmental Engineering

Bioengineering and Environmental Systems Division

Dr. Richard Fragaszy

Program Director

Geomechanics and Geotechnical Systems

Civil and Mechanical Systems Division

Dr. Bruce Hamilton


Bioengineering and Environmental Systems Division

Dr. Miriam Heller

Program Director

Information Technology and Infrastructure Systems

Civil and Mechanical Systems Division

Dr. Priscilla P. Nelson


Civil and Mechanical Systems Division

Academic Observers

Arpad Horvath

Assistant Professor

Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

Upal Ghosh

Research Associate

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Stanford University

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Stanford University Workshop

December 4 - 5, 2001


Adrienne Cooper

Assistant Professor

Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of South Carolina

Costel D. Denson Professor

Chemical Engineering

University of Delaware


Domenico Grasso

Professor and Chair

Picker Engineering Program

Smith College

Raymond C. Loehr, NAE


Civil Engineering

University of Texas Austin

Orie Loucks

Ohio Eminent School of Applied

Ecosystems Studies and Professor of


Miami University

James J. Morgan, NAE


Environmental Engineering Science

California Institute of Technology

Jerald L. Schnoor, NAE


Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of Iowa

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What was Talked About

  • What is CLEANER?

  • Why is CLEANER needed?

  • What is the intellectual merit of CLEANER?

  • What are the broader impacts of CLEANER?

  • Why does CLEANER have to be networked?

  • Why is CLEANER needed now?

  • What is distinctive about CLEANER?

  • What is the path forward?

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What is CLEANER?

CLEANER encompasses four general aspects:

1) Network of Environmental Field Facilities (EFFs) - instrumented for the acquisition and analysis of environmental data from anthropogenically-stressed regions,

2) Environmental cyberinfrastructure - a virtual repository of data and information technology for engineering modeling, analysis and visualization of data,

3) Multidisciplinary research and education activities - a grid

designed to exploit the output of the instrumented sites and

networked information technology for engineering and policy activities directed toward the protection, remediation, and restoration of stressed environments and sustainability of environmental resources, and

4) Collaboratories - infrastructure to catalyze collaboration among engineers, natural and social scientists, educators, policy makers, industry, non-governmental organizations, the public, and other stakeholders.

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Network of EFFs

CLEANER will be a network of well-instrumented Environmental Field Facilities (EFFs). Each EFF will have a distinctive anthropogenically-stressed environment/region.

Selection of EFFs will be driven by problems associated with anthropogenic stresses on environmental systems.

EFFs will employ an appropriate array of remote and on-site sensors.

Innovative monitoring methods will be developed based upon specific site characteristics and targeted stressors.

Methods will be devised for real-time data acquisition from newly-designed sensors and wireless transmission.

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Environmental Cyberinfrastructure

Development of a virtual repository for data and models as well as a network to facilitate collaborations.

Collection and organization of existing data for the EFFs within a unified database structure.

Standardization of input format for newly collected data.

Testing and validation of new data with mass balance and statistical approaches.

Utilization of visualization for quantitative understanding.

Integration of the cybernetworked infrastructure architectured around the user.

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Multidisciplinary Research and Education Activities

Integration of research and education with environmental analysis, decision-making, and management will catalyze interactions among relevant disciplines. The instrumented sites and virtual repository for data and models will enable the development of collaborative and multidisciplinary research projects. Modeling will be a central component of both experimental design and analysis and will facilitate the integration of information within and among CLEANER sites.

Data and models will support the elaboration of technical and policy options for site protection, remediation or restoration, requiring collaboration among stakeholders, including engineers, scientists, social scientists, urban planners, and community members.

Education and community outreach at EFFs will present opportunities for experiential learning (e.g., through visitor centers).

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Facilitate collaboration between industry, policy makers, the academic community, non-governmental organizations, the public, and other stakeholders.

Support research both at local and global scales in materials flow accounting and analysis, and human perturbations to natural materials flows, especially from urbanization, transportation, land use, and product and process life-cycle assessment.

Improve industrial pollution prevention, as well as, remedial efforts through the data repository and associated models.

Apply the network for improved public information and education, especially as an “early warning” for system contamination.

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Reductionist and discrete disciplinary methodologies are no longer adequate to evaluate and model large, complex environmental systems and anthropogenic stresses.

Networked infrastructure is necessary for science and engineering solutions and policy alternatives to assess, manage, and protect complex, stressed environmental resources effectively.

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Assist in evaluating engineering options and in making management decisions with improved measurement tools and integrated assessment models. CLEANER will provide databases that will promote the development and validation of models by reducing the need to make assumptions about mechanisms, by narrowing the uncertainty in parameter values, and by providing better information about time variability of model parameters.

Utilize an engineering approach, employing databases and predictive models to define and characterize what sustainability means for a given system, help foresee outcomes of change, and manage environmental systems by controlling anthropogenic inputs, and applying remediation techniques.

Promote sustainability by providing data that can be input to resource models, and providing connections between science, engineering, social science, and policy.

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The CLEANER network will standardize data collection, promote standard protocols, and improve data comparability, quality assurance and quality control to facilitate “lessons-learned” transferability among EFFs..

The remotely accessible data archives will make data available before publication and promote external evaluation and critique of data. These archives will provide an unbiased, unaffiliated, non-political source of data for the broader community, and promote data mining for trends and research support.

An important long-term effect will be to promote collaboration, technology transfer, and communication within fields, among fields, between academic and non-academic institutions, and among stakeholders.

CLEANER has the potential to systemically influence engineering education by engaging the academic community and educators at all levels in large-scale, multidisciplinary, and complex real-world problems,

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The CLEANERnetwork, will facilitate the transfer and fundamental understanding of modeling capabilities, research strategies and methodologies, and technology development among EFFs.

The network will enable the identification of research trends with national implications that couldn’t otherwise be detected at autonomous sites.

The network will serve as a distributed tool for education, research and outreach.

A significant feature of the network, the development of models and advanced knowledge discovery, will identify critical linkages between multiple interacting stressors that might otherwise go undetected.

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*Urgency for need

The growing population and commercial needs lead to increased demand for high quality environmental conditions, e.g., water and current threats to water resources, including pathogens, persistent bioaccumulative toxins, long-term low-level releases, contaminant mixtures, emerging contaminants, groundwater overdraft, and wastewater reuse issues.

The same importance and urgency is apparent for the other environmental media, i.e, air and land resources. In fact, a significant aspect of this urgency is the intermedia fate and transport of contaminants.

*Emerging Technology

The recent development of new technologies in sensing, data networking and information technology has enabled improved collection and management of critical environmental information. CLEANER will be a focused test bed for environmental cyberinfrastructure development.

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Provides a comprehensive engineering approach to evaluating regional environmental impacts, accounting for biological, chemical, physical and human influences.

Focuses on stressed environments.

Focuses on environmental resources critical to economic productivity, human health and quality of life.

Establishes cause-and-effect relationships with feedback mechanisms for implementing change (both engineering and policy).

Enables forecasting capabilities (via modeling) to evaluate impacts of technical, political and social change on the study region.

Extends modeling scope to system and intersystem level.

Addresses environments inherently characterized by changes over broad temporal scales.

Evaluates sensor needs relevant to EFF-specific requirements.

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Path Forward

A. Development of Concept/Content/Management Plan

1. Workshops on:

a. EFF concepts/budgets

b. Project scenarios and interaction with infrastructure design/modification

c. Environmental Cyberinfrastructure, and interactions with LTERs, NEON,


2. Expand disciplinary inclusiveness, beyond Environmental/Civil Engineers

B. Communication

1. Via a CLEANER Website

2. Within NSF and affiliates (e.g., AC/ENG, WG/ERE, AC/ERE, NSB)

3. Other agencies (e.g., EPA, NOAA, DOE, DOD, USGS)


ASM, etc.

C. Leadership (pro tem)

1. Community (Dick Luthy, Jerry Schnoor, Lisa Alvarez-Cohen , Andria,

Costello, Mike Aitken)

2. NSF (Nick Clesceri, Bruce Hamilton, Priscilla Nelson, Miriam Heller,

Rick Fragaszy)