Skip to main content

Fieldwork activities: A great opportunity to expose young scientists and engineers to novel technologies

Between 29 June and 7 July, three environmental monitoring stations have been installed in an organic farm approximately 15 km east of Swindon. The stations are part of the AMUSED project, funded by NERC and lead by me, Rafael Rosolem (Lecturer in Civil Engineering), with the ultimate goal being to identify key dominant processes that control changes in soil moisture and land-atmosphere interactions in the UK.

Each station is equipped with standard meteorological sensor as well as new technology for measuring soil moisture at spatial scales of approximately 600m diameter through cosmic-ray neutron interactions at approximately. The AMUSED network covers an area of approximately 1.7 square kilometers and will provide soil moisture estimates for hyper-resolution hydrometeorological modeling around the farm taking into account spatial scale heterogeneities not seen by satellite remote sensing products. The three sites are above chalk landscape and will improve our understanding of soil moisture and evaporation dynamics in such regions across a range of spatial scales.

Novel cosmic-ray sensor network will help estimate soil moisture at
hyper-resolution while accounting for differences in land cover and
soil characteristics. Source: Rafael Rosolem
An important aspect recognized in the AMUSED project is to expose young engineers and scientists to the novel cosmic-ray sensor technology. Our fieldwork was organized so that a small group of scientists and engineers carried out fieldwork and laboratory activities while learning more about environmental sensors.

The small group consisted of a post-doctoral researcher (Shams Rahman), a Civil Engineering PhD student (Joost Iwema), and a Civil Engineering undergraduate student (Juliana Koltermann da Silva) from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Shams Rahman interests include understanding groundwater-atmosphere coupling through numerical models. He is currently working under the AMUSED project. Joost Iwema is a second year PhD candidate in the Department of Civil Engineering. His background is in Soil Sciences, and he has been directly working with cosmic-ray sensors. Juliana Koltermann da Silva is a Brazilian Sciences Without Borders undergraduate student with interest in Geotechnics.

While in the field, the group had a chance to interact directly with cosmic-ray sensor developer, Darin Desilets, from Hydroinnova, asking questions and learning more about this new technology. Fieldwork activities were also supported by the Faculty of Engineering and the University of Bristol International Office.

Woodland site: Left to right: Juliana (undergraduate student), Joost (PhD candidate),
Shams (Post-Doctoral Research Assistant), and Rafael (Lecturer in Civil Engineering).
Source: Rafael Rosolem
The group had an opportunity to interact with Darin Desilets (Hydroinnova; left in
the photo) during fieldwork and laboratory activities to learn more about the
new cosmic-ray sensor technology. Source: Rafael Rosolem
The fieldwork also involved collection of a large number of soil samples for analysis (more than 100 samples within 200m radius for each site). Soil samples are currently being analyzed in order to calibrate not only the cosmic-ray sensors but also cross-calibrate additional soil moisture sensors available in the site.

We collect approximately 60 soil samples to a depth of 30cm during the field
campaign. Each profile is further subdivided into 6 x 5cm thickness layers,
which are then used for calibrating the cosmic-ray sensors and numerical
models used in the NERC AMUSED project. Source: Rafael Rosolem.
One of the aims of the AMUSED project is to engage in knowledge transfer to young scientists and engineers, with a distinct backgrounds and at different stages of their careers, to novel technologies for environmental monitoring while providing a good balance between fieldwork and laboratory activities as well as numerical modeling approaches.

This blog is written by Cabot Institute member Rafael Rosolem (Lecturer in Civil Engineering).
Rafael Rosolem

Popular posts from this blog

Powering the economy through the engine of Smart Local Energy Systems

How can the Government best retain key skills and re-skill and up-skill the UK workforce to support the recovery and sustainable growth? This summer the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) requested submission of inputs on Post-Pandemic Economic Growth. The below thoughts were submitted to the BEIS inquiry as part of input under the EnergyREV project . However, there are points raised here that, in the editing and summing up process of the submission, were cut out, hence, this blog on how the UK could power economic recovery through Smart Local Energy Systems (SLES). 1. Introduction: Factors, principles, and implications In order to transition to a sustainable and flourishing economy from our (post-)COVID reality, we must acknowledge and address the factors that shape the current economic conditions. I suggest to state the impact of such factors through a set of driving principles for the UK’s post-COVID strategy. These factors are briefly explained belo

Farming in the Páramos of Boyacá: industrialisation and delimitation in Aquitania

Labourers harvest ‘cebolla larga’ onion in Aquitania. Image credit: Lauren Blake. In October and November 2019 Caboteer  Dr Lauren Blake  spent time in Boyacá, Colombia, on a six-week fieldtrip to find out about key socio-environmental conflicts and the impacts on the inhabitants of the páramos, as part of the historical and cultural component of her research project, POR EL Páramo . Background information about the research can be found in the earlier blog on the project website . Descending down the hill in the bus from El Crucero, the pungent smell of cebolla larga onion begins to invade my nose. The surrounding land transforms into plots of uniform rows of onion tops at various stages of growth, some mostly brown soil with shoots poking out along the ridges, others long, bushy and green. Sandwiched between the cloud settled atop the mountainous páramos and the vast, dark blue-green Lake Tota, all I can see and all I can smell is onion production. Sprinklers are scattered around, dr

IncrEdible! How to save money and reduce waste

The new academic year is a chance to get to grips with managing your student loan and kitchen cupboards. Over lockdown the UK wasted a third less food than we usually would. This is brilliant, as normally over 4.5 million tonnes of edible food is wasted from UK homes every year. For students, it’s even higher. The average cost of food waste per student per week is approximately £5.25 - that's about £273 per year !  It’s not just our bank accounts that are affected by food waste – it’s our planet too. The process of growing, making, distributing, storing and cooking our food uses masses of energy, fuel and water. It generates 30% of the world’s CO₂ greenhouse gas emissions. The same amount of CO₂ as 4.6 million return flights from London to Perth, Australia! So it makes sense to keep as much food out of the bin as possible, start wasting less and saving more.  Start the new term with some food waste busting, budget cutting, environment loving habits! Here’s five easy ways to reduce