The St. Anthony Falls Laboratory: 80 Years of Progress Part 2A Transition to Environmental Research

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

This second of three parts of the history of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) at the University of Minnesota documents the transition to increased emphasis on environmental research. SAFL methodology includes laboratory experimentation and field observations, physical model studies and numerical simulations, and stochastic data analysis. Much of the research at SAFL has been connected to hydraulic structures, renewable energy, protection of the environment, and geophysical fluid dynamics. From its beginning in 1938, SAFL has been an interdisciplinary science and engineering research and educational facility with a strong grounding in fluid mechanics. Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, when awareness and legislation of environmental impacts of human activities grew dramatically, SAFL's research expanded significantly into areas connecting fluid mechanics with the chemistry and biology of aquatic environments, and into geophysical (earth-surface) processes. Environmental research at SAFL began with water resources engineering and riverine sediment transport. After developing and applying techniques of physical model studies for hydraulic structures and high-speed marine propulsion, SAFL researchers developed numerical flow and water quality simulation models for the protection of aquatic environments. Studies on the influence of fluid flow on pollutant transport and the growth and behavior of organisms were initiated. Geophysical processes became a centerpiece of SAFL research with the creation of the National Center for Earthsurface Dynamics (NCED), which got a home at SAFL in 2002. Fluid flow in the human body has been studied in co-operation with medical professionals. Field-scale experimentation was added for environmental and geophysical studies. Sophisticated experimental facilities and data acquisition and simulation tools have been developed by SAFL researchers. Examples of environmental research and design studies that have been conducted at SAFL since its opening in 1938 will be presented in nine major research categories: urban storm water runoff and water quality; environmental transport and mixing; water quality dynamics and modeling; global climate change effects; protection of fish and fish habitat; eco-and bio-fluid mechanics; watershed eco-hydrology and the Outdoor Stream Lab; sediment transport, earth surface dynamics, and the NCED legacy; and innovations in instrumentation and data acquisition. Examples will showcase the evolution and significance of environmental research at SAFL. The outlook for environmental research at SAFL and its connection to renewable energy will be presented in Part 3 of the presentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Perspectives, History and Heritage, Emerging Technologies, and Student Papers - Selected Papers from the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018
EditorsSri Kamojjala
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Pages151-184
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9780784481394
DOIs
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event18th World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018: International Perspectives, History and Heritage, Emerging Technologies, and Student Papers - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 3 2018Jun 7 2018

Publication series

NameWorld Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018: International Perspectives, History and Heritage, Emerging Technologies, and Student Papers - Selected Papers from the World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018

Other

Other18th World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2018: International Perspectives, History and Heritage, Emerging Technologies, and Student Papers
CountryUnited States
CityMinneapolis
Period6/3/186/7/18

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Beginning in the 1970s the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR) funded SAFL for state-related water resources and energy research. Environmental topics were covered in an ASCE-sponsored interdisciplinary national symposium on surface water reservoirs in 1980 and in a research program on global warming effects on lakes and streams funded by the USEPA and USDA. Numerical modeling of lake processes led to the development of the MINLAKE water quality model (Figure 2). In the mid-1990s the physical modeling of geologic processes came to SAFL with the NSF funded construction of the eXperimental EarthScape (XES) facility. A strong research program on turbidity currents and debris flows, using a variety of methodologies was developed. Research on stochastic hydrology and scaling theories of natural systems expanded the focus of SAFL’s research to mathematical modeling of multiscale phenomena. As the diversity of expertise within SAFL grew, researchers could address many different environmental questions, e.g., in hydrometeorology, fluvial geomorphology, sedimentology and atmospheric transport. The SAFL boundary layer wind tunnel originally designed and built with NSF funding for wind engineering was rejuvenated in combination with field and numerical studies for atmospheric transport and wind energy studies (Figure 3).

Funding Information:
At the end of that decade, the Laboratory added eco-biological fluid dynamics (the interaction of water with biota), algal population dynamics, and biochemical processes in lakes, rivers and the coastal ocean to its research portfolio and an eco-fluids laboratory to its inventory of facilities. In 2002 the National Center for Earthsurface Dynamics (NCED) moved into SAFL. NCED’s vision (www.nced.umn.edu) was to identify and quantify the major physical, biological and chemical processes that shape the Earth’s surface. Fully funded by NSF until 2012, the center continues as NCED2 to this date.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers.

Copyright:
Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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