Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our Student Dan McGraw makes this connect here…

The article, “N.C. Christmas trees to fight sand dune erosion, become mulch” was published December 28th, 2014, in the local newspaper for Hampton Roads, Virginia. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology in the specific issue of water (coastal) ecosystems and the distribution of sediment via the coastal watersheds. Unfortunately, due to projected rising sea levels, sand dunes, a large part of the coastal ecosystem, are at risk. This article describes how several coastal towns in North Carolina are offer curbside pickup of Christmas Trees no longer in use after the holiday season, especially considering dry trees pose a fire hazard in homes. These trees are then brought and planted into sand dunes in rows (photo 1). This helps create a root system in the dunes, which is important in dune stability. Based on my currently ongoing environmental engineering education, this is a suitable measure to help stabilize ecosystems while being sustainable and also minimizing stress created from human impacts. Missing from the article however, I felt there should be more of discussions as to what type of trees have better success, and also ideas or plans that could be done after the holidays. For example, most house purchasing Christmas trees are more likely to purchase them in December than July, what are other ways currently ongoing that could have similar goals? I felt this would have been and interesting question the article could have gone more in-depth to answer.

Water resources engineering globally, economically, environmentally, and personally influences society due to it being a multi-faceted field. It manages hydrological and hydraulic systems using engineering studies to problem-solve and optimize existing conditions. This WRE issue has a strong effect on the environmental area of WRE as the dune ecosystems are fragile centerpieces of the coastal “table”. This was explored in the research report “Coastal erosion, global sea-level rise, and the loss of sand dune plant habitats” was published in 2004, by Texas A&M University through The Ecological Society of America. The research conducted in the article was done on a beach setting in Galveston, Texas. Several mock scenarios were set up and observed over a year, with different stress factors that would occur depending on sea level rise. This also led to the idea that society could be negatively affected by the loss of dunes. This mean coastal communities that the dunes previously protected would be subject to storm surges.

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URL: http://hamptonroads.com/2014/12/old-nc-christmas-trees-used-mulch-sand-dunes

References

Feagin, Rusty A. “Coastal Erosion, Global Sea-level Rise, and the Loss of Sand Dune Plant Habitats.” Ecological Society of America. Texas A&M University, 25 Sept. 2004. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

Furlong, Christopher. Environmentalists Use Christmas Trees To Stabilise Sand Dunes. Digital image. Zimbo. N.p., 16 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2015

“Old N.C. Christmas Trees Used for Mulch, Sand Dunes.” The Virginian-Pilot. Associated Press, 28 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

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