2015 RID Awards

PROJECT: Improving landslide warning systems for local weather forecasts by linking wind exposure, satellite precipitation data, and local weather records

PI: Brian Buma, Assistant Professor, UAS

Landslides are a significant hazard to public safety, as well as infrastructure, in Alaska and throughout the country. Issuing warnings for landslide occurrence in weather forecasts remains a challenge, however, as our basic understanding of the necessary antecedent conditions is limited, as is our ability to monitor precipitation rates across remote locations. This project will link current research on interactions between wind regimes and landslide occurrence with local weather records to produce and improved understanding of the relationships between precipitation, landslides, wind, and topography.

PROJECT: Using a distributed temperature index melt model to quantify impacts of the 2009 Mt. Redoubt eruption on Eklutna Glacier’s surface mass balance/discharge

PI: Jason Geck, Assistant Professor, APU

Volcanic tephra deposition on glacier surfaces significantly lowers albedo, negatively impacting glacier mass balance. In March 2009, Mr. Redoubt, an ice-covered stratovolcano on the west side of Cook Inlet, Alaska, deposited ~10g/m tephra on the surface of Eklutna Glacier, located ~220 km northeast of Mt. Redoubt. Eklutna Glacier provides both drinking water (~80%) and a portion of power supply to Anchorage, Alaska. The purpose of this project is to quantify the impact of tephra deposition on Eklutna Glacer surface mass balance and discharge for the 2009 melt season.

PROJECT: Oberservation of Kinetic Flux Ropes during the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission

PI: Chung-Sang Ng, Associate Professor, UAF

This project will explore the possibility to compare a theory of small-scale structures (kinetic flux ropes), recently developed by the PI, with observation data from the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mms), which NASA will launch in March 2015. This mission is one of the major missions of NASA in recent years and has been in the planning and construction phase for over a decade. The main goal of this mission is to study a fundamental physical process called magnetic reconnection, which is highly relevant to energetic events in the magnetosphere of the earth and on the sun, as well as in many astrophysical systems.

PROJECT: Anti-Corrosion Polymer Nanocomposite Coatings for Aerospace Applications

PI: Lei Zhang, Assistant Professor, UAF

There has been much effort expended to develop coatings to replace the toxic and environmentally hazardous chromates used as pretreatments and pigments in aerospace coating systems. Some Cr-free pretreatment systems have been developed, but they do not function satisfactorily without the use of primers based on chromate pigments. Polymer nanocomposite coatings (PNCCs), in which the polymers bond with nanoparticles, exhibit synergistic properties by combining the unique properties of nanoparticles with the flexibility of polymers. The degree of dispersion of the nanoparticles within the polymer relates to improvement in mechanical and barrier properties in the resulting nanocomposite coatings over those of pure polymer coatings. PNCCs with extremely high concentrations of nanoparticles are promising in various applications thanks to their exceptional strength and toughness, such as the nanoplatelets with a small amount of polymer, mimicking the structure of nacre, which exhibit excellent mechanical properties. However, the significant aggregation of nanoparticles in the polymer matrix makes it difficult to prepare PNCCs with high nanoparticles loadings even at an elevated temperature. This project will develop PNCCs with uniform distribution of nanoparticles at extremely high filler concentrations via the polymer capillary infiltration without any mechanical mixing. Such PNCCs will be promising to protect ground and launch systems, and spacecraft, from degradation in corrosive environments.

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