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Posts Tagged ‘Research’

BY ZACH MORTICE

Texas National Guard and Texas Task Force responders conduct aerial search and rescue in Rockport, Holiday Beach, and the Port Aransas area. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, photo by the Texas National Guard.

An unprecedented storm that dumped more than 50 inches of rain onto Texas over just a few days, Harvey was the kind of hurricane that worsening climate change promises to bring back for a sequel. And if and when that happens, the next round of  recovery and resilience calculus might best begin with the results of the National Science Foundation’s series of research grants dedicated to studying the storm’s effects.

Last month, the agency handed out just over $5 million across 59 research projects prompted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, including several that deal with the ecological and landscape fallout of catastrophic storms. Each promises to generate valuable information about flora and fauna left reeling from extreme weather events. But these studies (four of which are detailed here) are even more vital as mile markers down the path toward a future besieged by climate change—either as guidance on forestalling it or living better within its confines.

Anna Armitage of Texas A&M Galveston is studying how the transition from salt marsh wetlands to mangroves might change how hurricanes affect the coast. In Texas, low, marshy wetlands are common, whereas dense mangroves are rare. That balance is shifting, however, as climate change heats up these ecosystems. As mangroves expand their footprint, Armitage (and researchers at Florida International University and the University of Houston) wonders if they might offer coastal ecosystems and human settlement more protection from hurricane winds and rain—at a cost of biodiversity. “It probably doesn’t provide the same value for birds, fish, and shrimp,” she says.

Climate Change Big Picture: If mangroves do offer more protection for coastal ecosystems in a climate of increasingly severe storms, then Armitage says the next question is, “Should we be planting them in restoration sites?” These kinds of “living shorelines,” she says, could be “more resilient, longer-lasting, and nicer looking protection for our communities” than concrete barriers.

Grant amount: $122,935

Paul Montagna of Texas A&M Corpus Christi is studying the inundation of fresh water (via rainfall) into saltwater ecosystems that Hurricane Harvey caused. From initial measurements after the rain, he’s observed increased amounts of dissolved organic matter in these waterways, and has seen (more…)

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As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

Click above for a full PDF of the translated text with English text available below.

BY BRIAN BARTH

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

In March of 2016, the landscape architect Ron Henderson, FASLA, had the rare opportunity to visit Mcity, the autonomous vehicle research center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His entourage, which included Nilay Mistry, ASLA, as well as an architect, a transportation engineer, a social scientist, and an attorney, signed in at a gatehouse worthy of a military facility. They were then relieved of all cameras and recording devices—“It’s like a top-secret corporate espionage kind of place,” Henderson says—before being escorted on a brief tour of a 16-acre test track composed of every road condition imaginable: bridges, tunnels, gravel roads, bike lanes, railroad crossings, roundabouts, graffiti-defaced road signs, faded lane markings, a main street with parallel parking, and a short stretch of freeway. “They even have a little Potemkin village of fake storefronts,” Henderson says.

At Mcity, a consortium of academic researchers, government agencies, and corporate entities are sorting out how to make autonomous transportation a reality. Henderson was surprised to learn that trees may not be part of the equation. “We learned that vegetation interferes with the signals between the cars,” he says. “So they cut down the trees at the test track. One of the engineers jokingly said to us, ‘If we had our druthers, we would just cut down all the trees.’ The landscape architects in the group (more…)

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LAM rings in the new year with 300 Ivy in San Francisco by Fletcher Studio, winner of a 2015 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Residential Design; the Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, developed by the University of Arkansas Community Design Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas, which aims to bring food security to local residents; Buhl Community Park, by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, which reimagines a historic square in the center of Pittsburgh; and a look at national park “extremes” across the United States helps to kick off the centenary year of the National Park Service.

In Interview, Gwen McGinn’s research probes the little-known world of urban tree root growth, and won a 2015 ASLA Student Award in Research; and in Office, three types of landscape architecture firms describe what they look for in new employees. And don’t miss our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for January can be found here.

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating January articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “Peak Condo,” Bruce Damonte; “The Next Meal,” University of Arkansas Community Design Center; “Ephemera, Here to Stay,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “The Mostest American Treasures,” http://www.shutterstock.com/Doug Meek; “A World Underground,” Gwendolyn Dora McGinn, Associate ASLA; “Got the Job,” Richard Johnson.

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From the October 2014 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine:

Several faculty members at different schools recently have told me, unbidden, that remarkable numbers of their landscape architecture students want to find work that has a social impact, such as with a nonprofit or NGO group, after they graduate. To judge by this year’s run of ASLA Student Awards in this issue, it would seem they are having no trouble finding worlds of need. There is a playground designed and built for 350 children at an AIDS orphanage in South Africa, and a project for people in an informal settlement in Lima, Peru. There are two projects that directly benefit military veterans. Another considers the tangible ways people attach to a place as they grow old. And, of course, examples of ecological redemption abound. What I think we are seeing is a natural impulse to do good, compounded by a much greater awareness among young people today of the importance of community service, which is being ingrained in and required of them before they finish high school. Added to that are the signs of starker inequality, food scarcity, and climate volatility that are getting through to students and sticking with them.

In that regard, this issue, with the awards for students plus the ASLA Professional Awards and the Landmark Award, is all good news, which is why we look forward to doing it so much each year. This is our fourth year combining the student and professional awards in one rather mind-opening and deeply heartening package. There are 21 student winners chosen from 313 entries; 34 professional winners emerged from 596 entries. Seriously, if you need a lift as much of the world seems bent on coming unglued, read this magazine.

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