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Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

2023 Capstone Day: Department of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

The 2023 U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Yard-wide Capstone Day will be held on May 3rd, 2023.  This is an all-day event with oral project presentations in the morning followed by an afternoon poster session. Oceanography majors will be presenting results of their Honors, Independent, and Capstone Research projects during the afternoon poster session in Alumni Hall. The research and accomplishments of our students this past year are inspiring. We are excited to celebrate their research with you at the 2023 Capstone Day!


Quick Links and Information

Event Information :

Transportation and Security Information :

  • Parking: Navy and Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (contractor charges $10/vehicle)
  • Transportation: Bus service will run continuously between 0700 and 1630. Two buses will be used during high traffic windows (0730-0830; 1230-1330; 1500-1630).
  • Security: All visitors will be screened at Alumni Hall or USNA Gate 1. All visitors must have valid U.S. ID. 


Schedule of Events

0730-1600 Shuttle Bus Service (park at Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium)
0730-0830 Continental Breakfast (Alumni Hall Lobby)
0855-1225 Oral Capstone Presentations (see Capstone Day website for details)
1200-1330 Lunch (Invited) and Superintendent's Remarks in Volgenau Conference Center (Hopper Hall)
1230-1315 Oceanography Department Capstone Day Reception (Chauvenet Hall 218)
Light Refreshments Offered
1330-1530 Poster Capstone Presentations (Alumni Hall; See Poster Layout Coming Soon!)
Abstracts listed below. We appreciate your support of Midshipmen research within the Department of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, and look forward to seeing you on Capstone Day! Questions? Please contact LCDR Matt Smart at msmart@usna.edu.

 

Honors, Independent, and Capstone Research Posters:

 

Poster #291.  Analysis of Tide Propagation Along the Main Stem Severn River Over a Neap-Spring Cycle

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Julia Galbraith, 1/C Autumn Nicholas, 1/C Sophie Shelbourne
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) and pressure sensors were deployed over a wintertime neap-spring cycle to collect data to determine differences between the timing of high and low tide at sites along the main axis of the Severn River estuary. These data and additional meteorological data were used to assess how geomorphology and factors like meteorological forcing may influence tidal propagation and tidal current response in the estuary.

Poster #292.  Sedimentological and Geophysical Survey along the USNA Seawalls from Hospital Point to Trident Light

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Robert Archambault, 1/C Ryan Craft, 1/C Lucas Schatz
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: Grain size analysis was performed on surficial sediment samples collected along the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) seawalls from Hospital Point to Trident Light. Results were compared to backscatter amplitude and depth values obtained using a low-cost Commercial-Off-the-Shelf combination fish finder-chirp-side scan sonar system to assess whether these systems can be used to determine surficial sediment type and infer fine-grained sediment deposition adjacent to man-made structures like seawalls.

Poster #293. Local-Scale Forcing Effects on Rhodamine Dye Plume Dispersion and Transport in Carr Creek Cove

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Alexander Khieu, 1/C Zane Richardson, 1/C Alexandra Urbine
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor(s): U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA)
  • Project Collaborator(s): Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis
  • Abstract: Rhodamine dye releases were conducted in Carr Creek Cove to measure plume dispersion and transport using a custom flow-through system. An acoustic doppler current profile, wave buoy, and weather station were deployed at the time of each release. Measured results were compared to simulated releases (DELFT FM) to investigate how local-scale forcing (wind, waves, currents) affects plume dispersion and transport in small coastal embayments like Carr Creek Cove.

Poster #294. Side Scan Sonar Detection of Bottom-Mounted Objects with Different Material Properties

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Julianne Barkholz, 1/C Andrew Matthews
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, Mr. Benjamin Hickman
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: Custom aluminum target frames covered with different materials (bare aluminum, low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber) were constructed and deployed on the bottom of the Severn River to determine the effect of object geometry and surface material properties on the ability to detect and identify underwater bottom-mounted objects with a 455 kHz/900 kHz dual-frequency Klein 4900 side scan sonar system.

Poster #295. Reconstruction of Meteorological Conditions Leading up to the September 2021 Annapolis, MD Tornado

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Wyatt Morris, 1/C Christina Null
  • Advisor(s): Asst. Prof. Scott Loeffler, Instr. Alexander R. Davies, Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith
  • Project Collaborator(s): Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
  • Abstract: Meteorological data were used to assess atmospheric conditions that led to formation of an EF2 tornado in Anne Arundel County, MD on 01 September 2021. Historical data on Annapolis-area tornadoes was compiled to identify seasonal and annual trends in tornado activity. Understanding the meteorological conditions that led to the September 2021 Annapolis, MD Tornado, will help to improve tornado forecasting, watch and warning times, and further the study of tornadogenesis.

Poster #296. Winter-to-Spring Primary Productivity and Zooplankton Abundance in Santee Basin and College Creek

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Nyla Chambers, 1/C Maggie Cleary, 1/C Eloise Gebert, 1/C Stephanie Jacobs
  • Advisor(s): Instr. Brianna Tracy, Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Project Collaborator(s): Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Abstract: Primary productivity and zooplankton abundance was measured weekly over a month-long period from winter-to-spring at two different locations in the lower Severn River, Santee Basin and College Creek to investigate spatial heterogeneity in ecosystem productivity. Water column conditions were also measured to investigate primary factors such as temperature, water chemistry, and light conditions that influence local-scale primary productivity and zooplankton abundance in the Severn River.

Poster #297. Wave Period and Energy Variability of Surface Gravity Waves in the Upper Chesapeake Bay

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Garrison Clark, 1/C David Moore, 1/C Nataline Ziola
  • Advisor(s):  CAPT Shawn Gallaher, Mr. Benjamin Hickman, Instr. Alexander R. Davies, Instr. Brianna Tracy
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: This project analyzes the relationship between meteorological conditions and the variability of wave energy in the upper-Chesapeake Bay and Severn River. Data were collected using MetOcean SOFAR wave buoys and RBR Pressure Sensors at two mooring locations. Surface wave time series were converted to the frequency domain using a Fourier Transform where wave period and energy were evaluated against changes in available fetch based on predominate wind direction.

Poster #298. Estimating Wet Bulb Globe Temperature from Machine Learning using Readily Available Meteorology Data

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Andrea Marrero-Massa, 1/C Riley Plosica
  • Advisor(s): CAPT Shawn Gallaher, Instr. Alexander R. Davies, Prof. Ric Crabbe
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Abstract: At the Naval Health Clinic Annapolis, recording Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) is a manual, time-consuming process. WBGT values are used to determine safe working conditions and reduce heat-related injuries at military training commands. To reduce manpower requirements, this study aims to predict WBGT using environmental data from autonomous surface observing systems and a machine learning (ML) model. These ML model results are then validated against recorded WBGT observations.

Poster #299. Winter-to-Spring Evolution of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Heat Balance

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Andrew Brophy, 1/C Makayla Fernandez-Sanchez, 1/C Adam McCowan
  • Advisor(s): CAPT Shawn Gallaher, Mr. Benjamin Hickman, Instr. Alexander R. Davies, Instr. Brianna Tracy
  • Abstract: This project investigates the variability of upper water column thermodynamics and stratification in the Northern Chesapeake Bay. Data from a Castaway CTD, NOAA buoy, and automated surface observation station were employed to determine how vertical stability can affect the local heat balance above, within, and below the pycnocline. Estimates of the residual heat balance are calculated from a thermodynamic model and compared to heat content changes from January through April.

Poster #300. 2-D Analysis of Meteorological Forcing and Tides on Severn River Discharge and Currents

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Wade Quigley, 1/C Christopher Vazquez, 1/C Blake Weaver
  • Advisor(s): CAPT Shawn Gallaher, Mr. Benjamin Hickman, Instr. Alexander R. Davies, Instr. Brianna Tracy
  • Abstract: An Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler is used to collect u, v, and w velocities through a Severn River cross-section to estimate fluvial discharge during the winter of 2023. Current speed and direction were compared with tidal data and meteorological conditions to determine the lateral and vertical responses these forcings on river current structure and bulk discharge. Several tidal and meteorological condition combinations were investigated to determine most dominate component.

Poster #301. Using Lidar to Identify Impacted Areas Superstorm Sandy Induced on Coastal Jersey

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Linh Tang
  • Advisor(s):  Prof. Peter Guth
  • Abstract: On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy, the largest hurricane in diameter, swept through Atlantic City, NJ. With 80mph sustained winds, heavy rain, and severe flooding, the city practically sank underwater. The aftermath left New Jersey with $36.8 billion in damage to include over 300,000 homes requiring renovation. A decade later, we used lidar to identify areas of changes to gain a deeper understanding of the city's replenishment process.

Poster #302. Utilizing Sentinel 2 Satellite Imagery to Monitor the Effects of the 2023 Turkish Earthquakes

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Owen Ray, 1/C Reilly Wilson
  • Advisor(s): Prof. Peter Guth
  • Abstract: On February 6, 2023, in south-central Türkiye, two major earthquakes occurred 8 hours from each other. The earthquakes caused a ripple effect of landslides, flooding, and significant scale damage to infrastructure. The death toll is estimated to be nearly 53,000. Utilizing the European Space Agency's satellite Sentinel-2, we identified and pinpointed the most affected areas. Sentinel-2 allows us to see up-to-date images every 2-3 days since the earthquake.

Poster #303. Rare Earth Element Chemistry in Surface Waters of Rivers and Streams on the North Slope of Alaska

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Mary Rogers
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, CAPT Shawn Gallaher
  • Project Sponsor(s): Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)
  • Project Collaborator(s): Engineer Research & Development Center (ERDC), Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), the U.S. Military Academy West Point
  • Abstract: Discharge measurements and surface water samples were collected in June – October 2019, 2021, and 2022 from tundra streams and rivers on the North Slope of Alaska. Samples were analyzed for dissolved rare earth element (REE) concentrations, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and other parameters. Upper Continental Crust-Normalized REE values revealed variability in REE chemistry indicative of seasonal changes in tundra landscape interactions, precipitation patterns, and stream and river discharge.

Poster #304. Summertime Particulate Fluxes in the Sagavanirktok River on the North Slope of Alaska

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Sarah Blank
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith, CAPT Shawn Gallaher
  • Project Sponsor(s): Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)
  • Project Collaborator(s): Engineer Research & Development Center (ERDC), Cold Regions Research & Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), the U.S. Military Academy West Point
  • Abstract: Surface waters were collected from tundra streams and the Sagavanirktok River on the North Slope of Alaska in summer of 2022. Samples were analyzed for total suspended solids (TSS), particulate carbon concentrations, and stable carbon isotope values and compared with particle size and concentration values collected using a laser in situ particle size analyzer. Results show variability in TSS and particulate carbon fluxes related to landscape interactions, precipitation, and discharge.

Poster #305. Evaluating Greenland Blocking and Vapor Transport Representation in the CMIP6 Model Suite

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Molly Jones, 1/C Jack Volinsky
  • Advisor(s): Prof. Gina Henderson
  • Project Sponsor(s): Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)
  • Abstract: Atmospheric blocking is defined as a disruption of the typical zonal eastward circulation by strong meridional flow. In the North Atlantic Arctic, advection of warm air and moisture associated with blocking has been linked to surface melt, particularly of the Greenland Ice Sheet. We seek to assess the ability of CMIP6 models to represent extreme blocking and moisture transport events using the metrics Greenland Blocking Index and Integrated Vapor Transport.

Poster #306. Developing a Convolutional Neural Network Model of Sea Ice Coverage in the Arctic Ocean

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Taylor Ziegenfus
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Andrew Muller
  • Project Sponsor(s): U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • Project Collaborator(s): Dr. Jason Otero Torres
  • Abstract: Decades of climate research have recognized the implications of global climate change in the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic has been trending towards a thinner first year ice system . A convolutional neural network model was developed that incorporates images of Arctic sea ice extent . The goal of this research is to create a product that predicts sea ice extent along the Northwest Passage and within the Chukchi Sea.

Poster #307. Spectral Analysis of Remotely Sensed pH Changes in the South China Sea

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Evan Schlifstein
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Andrew Muller
  • Project Sponsor(s): U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • Project Collaborator(s): Dr. Jason Otero Torres
  • Abstract: Recent developments of man-made islands in the South China Sea have generated increasing concern geopolitically and environmentally. In this study, Sentinel 2 biogeochemical data was coupled with a continuous wavelet transform to understand the spectral signature and pattern of long-tern surface pH changes near the Spratly islands. Trends are compared to historic trend analysis from previous studies using ARGO buoys within the South China Sea and global rates of acidification.

Poster #308. Spectral Analysis of Sea Level Heights in the Caribbean Sea

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Gimirivi "Wicky" Wickramathilaka
  • Advisor(s): Assoc. Prof. Andrew Muller
  • Project Sponsor(s): U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)
  • Project Collaborator(s): Dr. Jason Otero Torres
  • Abstract: Accurate sea surface height data is critical in coastal seas for the prediction of storm surges . While satellite altimetry data has provided mean sea level to regional mesoscale variability, this information is difficult to resolve in coastal areas. In this study we compare spectral signatures of traditional tide gauge stations to GNSS stations in the Caribbean Sea in order to investigate non linearities using a continuous wavelet transformation.

Poster #309. Comparison of Soundscapes on Oyster Reefs with Contrasting Exposure to Anthropogenic Influence

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Erin Carson
  • Advisor(s): Prof. Cecily Steppe
  • Project Sponsor(s): The Volgenau Family
  • Project Collaborator(s): Dr. Jason Spires, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Abstract: Soundscapes can be used to assess ecosystem processes and complexity in marine and coastal habitats. In this work we compared the ratio of occurrences of anthropogenic, biological, and physical sounds between two oyster reefs (Annapolis MD and Oxford MD), from summer 2022 to spring 2023. Seasonal and diel changes in soundscapes were also explored. Identifying patterns of anthropogenic noise could lead to insights on ecological processes disrupted by human activities.

Poster #310. Response of Arctic River Constituent Fluxes to Summer Season Episodic Precipitation Events

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Lilli Hirth
  • Advisor(s): CAPT Shawn Gallaher, Assoc. Prof. Joseph P. Smith
  • Project Sponsor(s): Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)
  • Abstract: As permafrost thaws on the Alaskan North Slope, previously sequestered metals, and particulate matter are liberated due to fluvial transports from thawed soils. Surface water chemistry was collected at 17 different sites between 2019 and 2022 to measure the variability of biogenic tracers to changes in precipitation intensity, timing, and spatial distribution. Results show that the material fluxes were well correlated to extreme precipitation events and rival spring breakup fluxes.

Poster #311. Analyzing Dune Migration through Colorado Great Sand Dunes National Park (2017-2022)

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Grace Toll
  • Advisor(s): Prof. Peter Guth
  • Abstract:Sentinel-2 imagery from the European Space Agency allows us to track the motion of sand dunes. We treat the near infrared band as a numerical grid, and use analytic techniques to track peaks, dune crests, and slip faces. The greatest motion occurs on smaller dunes on the margins of the dune field.

Poster #312. Comparing ALOS and COPDEM in Yellowstone National Park to Determine Patterns in Mountainous Terrain

  • Researcher(s): MIDN 1/C Thomas Pearson
  • Advisor(s): Prof. Peter Guth
  • Abstract: Recent work has shown the COPERNICUS DEM, derived from a radar sensor, and the ALOS DEM, derived from an optical sensor, provide the best representations of earth's topography. We compared both to a reference DEM derived from much higher resolution lidar, to determine spatial patterns where each DEM performs best, looking at elevation, slope, roughness, and aspect. We also compared both DEMs' accuracy to the vegetation in the area.
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