What is CLEANER?
CLEANER encompasses four general aspects:
1) A Network of environmental
field facilities instrumented for the acquisition and analysis of environmental
2) A Virtual Repository of Data and information
technology for engineering modeling, analysis and visualization of data,
i.e. an environmental cyber-infrastructure;
3) A Mechanism for multidisciplinary research and education
activities designed to exploit the output of the instrumented
sites and networked information technology, to formulate engineering and
policy options directed toward the protection, remediation, and restoration
of stressed environments and sustainability of environmental resources;
4) A Collaboration among engineers, natural and
social scientists, educators, policy makers, industry, non-governmental
organizations, the public, and other stakeholders.
1. Field Network
The backbone of CLEANER will be a series of well-instrumented Environmental
Field Facilities (EFFs) that represent either distinctive stressed environments
or environments that are representative of a common set of conditions
and/or stressors. For example, the PCB-contaminated portion of the Hudson
River could represent a distinctive stressed environment while Clear Lake
in California could represent a shallow highly impacted lake in mining
and agricultural areas. Selection of EFFs will be driven by problems associated
with anthropogenic stresses on environmental systems.
EFFs will be monitored with an appropriate array of remote
and on-site sensors combined with local and off-site sample analyses.
Innovative monitoring methods will be developed based upon specific site
characteristics and targeted stressors. Methods development for application
will include real-time data acquisition with wireless transmission, and
newly designed sensors. Monitoring endpoints will be chosen based upon
the specific problems identified for individual sites and upon inputs
required for development and calibration of engineering models useful
for extrapolation of results. Material balance approaches will allow a
systematic and dynamic evaluation of ecosystem conditions and flows across
and within media. Site monitoring data will be analyzed for quality control
prior to incorporation into a networked database.
2. Data Network
The data network will include a virtual repository for data and models
as well as a network to facilitate collaborations.
The virtual repository will include collection and organization
of existing data for the EFFs within a unified database structure. The
database will allow inter- and intra- site queries and facilitate new
developments in data mining. Further, the CLEANER organization will standardize
input format for newly collected data and include specific structures
to test and validate new data with mass balance and statistical approaches.
CLEANER will include the development of new models and
the integration of existing models based upon the data collected within
the virtual repository. Existing watershed, ecosystem, and regional models
will serve as building blocks for integrated CLEANER modeling efforts.
Modular and open architecture will allow optimization and modification
by a large number of researchers. Models will be evaluated, validated
and calibrated using the large database of existing and new data. Models
will also be used for retrospective and prospective research on the EFFs.
The combination of models and data will be used to identify
data gaps and suggest the need for new measurement methodologies and sensor
technologies. The data network will allow extensive access to results
from multiple researchers' data. This access will promote collaborative
planning of experimental approaches across sites. Researchers will be
able to benchmark solutions and integrate studies on multiple sites.
3. Integrated Activities
The activities pursued within CLEANER will integrate research, education,
and environmental analysis, decision-making, and management. The instrumented
sites and virtual repository will enable the development of collaborative
and multidisciplinary research projects. Specific research projects will
be investigator-instigated and will both respond to and drive the design
of site instrumentation. The accessibility of data and models will allow
modeling to be a central component of both experimental design and analysis
and will facilitate the integration of information within and among CLEANER
sites, including field-based comparisons of similar sites with different
stressors or different sites with similar stressors.
The data and models derived from research at CLEANER
sites will support the elaboration of technical and policy options for
site protection, remediation or restoration. These activities will require
collaboration among engineers, scientists, social scientists, urban planners,
stakeholders, and community members.
Education will be a component of all CLEANER activities.
The design and implementation of site instrumentation will promote community
education and the instrumented sites will offer opportunities for experiential
learning (e.g., through visitor centers).
CLEANER will facilitate collaboration between industry, policy makers,
the academic community, non-governmental organizations, the public, and
other stakeholders. It specifically addresses the programmatic gaps in
the current NSF environment portfolio identified by the National Science
Board. For example, CLEANER can support research in materials flow accounting
and analysis, both at local and global scales, human perturbations to
natural materials flows, urbanization, transportation, land use, and product
and process life-cycle assessment. Environmental and energy implications
of emerging technologies and trends such as switching to alternative fuels
or industrial restructuring toward a service economy can be evaluated
from an economic, engineering, and sustainability perspective. Consequently,
CLEANER can be used, for example, to help industry understand its local
and broader environmental impacts by relating their outputs to the fate,
transport, and impact of their releases into the environment. This could
include localized pollutants as well as larger-scale concerns, such as
CO2 emissions and its global climate effects. The data repository and
associated models will enhance pollution prevention as well as remedial
efforts. CLEANER's network can also be used for improved public information
and education, especially as an "early warning" for system contamination.