Location: The Meadowlands Museum, Yereance Berry House
FINDING OUR PLACE IN HISTORY
MAP EXHIBITION PROJECT
Friday, JUNE 28th, 7:30 pm – 9:00pm
Saturday, 10am – 4pm
The Meadowlands Museum,
Yereance Berry House
91 Crane Avenue, Rutherford, NJ 07021
The Meadowlands Museum, preserved in a historic 19th Century Dutch-American farmhouse, within view of the NYC skyline and the Meadowlands Sports Complex, opens the new season with a dynamic public interaction exhibition project focusing on the Museum’s remarkable collection of local maps. The community is welcome to view this special map exhibit highlighting the site of the Yereance-Berry House (now the Meadowlands Museum) from the 1680′s to the present. From these maps we discover that the Museum’s Yerence Berry House was a larger farmhouse on a main road surrounded by fields and that the adjacent Crane Avenue was a brook with ponds that flowed down to Berry’s Creek. See how the area has changed, find the location of your own home and compare how the area has developed over time!
This summer, the museum will be open on Saturdays and the public is invited to learn about the establishment and development of Rutherford as well as the surrounding Meadowlands Communities and even gain interesting facts about our own homes.
The public is welcome on Friday June 28 from 7:30 to 9 PM and on Saturday, June 29, from 10 AM to 1 PM. This re-opening kicks off the Museum’s summer season. During July and August, the Museum will be open on Saturdays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.
The Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI), the science branch of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC), released a study on Hurricane Sandy, concluding no specific break was to blame for the historic flooding experienced by local towns, but rather the sheer size of the unprecedented storm surge caused the area to become inundated with water.
The NJMC held a press conference on Friday, Jan. 11 at its headquarters at DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst to announce the findings.
Dr. Francisco Artigas of MERI explained the agency was in a unique position to study the surge, as a few of the water level sensors installed around the Hackensack River in 2004 survived the storm. The commission’s River Barge Park Marina, located in Carlstadt, and the Moonachie tide gate on the river near Turnpike Exit 18W collected data as the waters rose on Oct. 29.
The Meadowlands contains a number of berms – both naturally occurring and manmade obstructions made of earth which hold back water – constructed at a mean height of five feet. But the tidal surge reached at least nine feet.
“That’s four feet above the elevation of the natural berm,” Dr. Artigas said. “Because of the magnitude of this elevation, there was nothing anyone could plan for.”
Water came in fast and furious that night, peaking by about midnight, sensors observed. According to Dr. Artigas, the sensor showed an average height of nine feet at that hour, but the level likely rose above that since it was only an average. An example of that is the water topped the Turnpike, which stands at just over 10 feet.
According to data collected at the barge marina, low tide the next morning was about 3.5 feet, a height normally experienced during a high tide, Dr. Artigas explained. Sensors provided invaluable data as nightfall and no electricity in the area meant there were no witnesses to observe the surge when it came in.
The cascade of water against the berms and tide gates caused a series of spillways, especially along the Losen Slote Tide Gate and pump station, feeding into the Moonachie Creek. The flow was confirmed by sensor data.
Around 11 p.m. that night, a widely circulated Office of Emergency Management alert went out reporting the alleged breeching of a levy, the same time the surge began its peak, NJMC Executive Director Marcia Karrow recalled. The report has caused confusion, leading people to believe the failure of a manmade flood control structure caused the flooding in nearby Moonachie and Little Ferry.
As reported earlier by the South Bergenite, a particular berm associated with the OEM alert was the one that follows the Losen Slote Creek, according to Andrew Derickson, a representative of EnviroFinance. The private company is responsible for maintaining the site as well the maintenance of the berm. Located at the nexus of Carlstadt, South Hackensack and Little Ferry, it was originally built by the Bergen County Mosquito Extermination Commission (BCMEC) in the 1920s. At the time, it stood about eight feet high, above the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 100-year floodplain standard, Derickson said.
The Losen Slote Creek berm, along with a second in the Richard P. Kane Natural Area that separates remediated tidal wetlands from businesses in Carlstadt, was overtaken by the surge and had a concertina wall damaged as well. According to EnviroFinance, the berm’s purpose was to protect freshwater wetland from the Hackensack River tides, not protect homes and businesses.
The surge, standing over seven feet high, lasted for six hours. This created a kind of “bathtub” effect, where water came in, filling the surrounding area, but couldn’t recede due to the constant pouring in of more water, Dr. Artigas explained. Berms are only as effective as their lowest point, he added.
“By seven feet, everything was completely overwhelmed,” Dr. Artigas said.
“These berms were not built to protect anyone from water,” and weren’t made of stronger material like concrete, Karrow said.
Compared to Irene, a “rain event,” Sandy saw significantly less rainfall. However, the wind from the northeast and tidal surge created the perfect storm.
“These [Sandy and Irene] were two different kinds of storm,” Dr. Artigas explained. Irene caused only about two feet of flooding in Moonachie. Salt content levels spiked around the same time the floodwaters peaked, a probable “smoking gun” of the surge being fed by ocean water, the Dr. Artigas said.
NJMC officials presented a number of hypothetical maps detailing how much more severe flooding would have been for Moonachie and Little Ferry were it not for the berms. Many Little Ferry streets are five feet above sea level, with many private backyards below that height.
The berms are on private, municipal and public land, and aren’t required to be maintained by the land owners, who often acquire them with the purchase of the property, Karrow said. Most were constructed decades ago during the Mosquito Commission’s efforts. With sea levels rising, flooding may be a more frequent occurrence, however, the nine foot surge is still very rare, Dr. Artigas said.
Unless all the Meadowland’s berms are raised dramatically, water will naturally pour into the lowest point, a fact Karrow called an “unfortunate reality.”
NJMC: surge, not broken berm, to blame for Sandy flooding
State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, met for the first time Monday afternoon with a group of roughly 15 representatives from the Meadowlands Commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection, the mayors of Moonachie and Little Ferry, and local engineers to discuss the Oct. 29 storm and lay out preventative measures.
“We talked about some of the incremental steps we can take, measures to protect us from various different storms, but I am not sure whatever we will be able to do would protect us from a surge of that magnitude,” Sarlo said — 9.5 feet of water easily topped the 4- and 5-foot-high berms. “The government cannot keep putting Band-aids on infrastructure. I’m not sure we can be prepared for every storm, but we need to implement measures for 75 or 85 percent of storms.”
“There are significant dollars in the federal package that would alleviate some of this flooding,” Sarlo said. “I am going to fight on behalf of the people of the Meadowlands.”
A daylong MERI Library Open House for NJMC Staff was held on December 6, 2012. The highlight of this event was a demonstration and presentation of the new AGent VERSO Library Automation System by the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission Librarian, Tammy Marshall. Features of the new system include Personal Account Access and an integrated Circulation and Interlibrary Loan System. The event was well attended and well received by the NJMC Staff.
Restoration and monitoring of an urban estuary in northern New Jersey
The Hackensack River estuary in northern New Jersey sits just six miles west of Manhattan Island. It is surrounded by some of the most densely populated and industrialized areas of the nation. In the early 1900s, municipal landfills were established in the estuary and in 1922 a dam reduced the flow of fresh water thus greatly limiting the natural flushing ability of the system. For years, toxic substances seeping from the landfills entered directly into the estuary. Frequent spills from oil storage facilities and oil slicks from illegal dumping were common, and overtaxed sewage treatment plants discharged 115 million gallons per day of minimally treated sewage directly into the nearby creeks and waterways. In the 1930s, residue from nearby chromite ore processing plants was used as foundation material for industrial sites as well as wetland backfill and even scattered into the neighboring urban environment. Records show that between 1929 and 1972 more than 268 tons of mercury-contaminated toxic waste was dumped into creeks that today show some of the highest concentration of mercury in sediments in the world. Coal power plants continue until today to emit greenhouse gases and associated heavy metals into the surrounding air. By the 1970s the estuary was considered destroyed; a highly disturbed and truncated ecosystem where many of the shellfish, crustaceans and finfish had been eliminated. Thirty years later, the estuary is showing signs of improving, and it is seen as a patient that has been under intensive care for the past 30 years. Landfills have been closed, and most of the point sources of pollution have been eliminated as sewage treatment plants have been closed or re-engineered and upgraded. Restoration efforts include replacing contaminated surface sediments with re-engineered clean sediments, removing invasive species, re-grading, and re-establishing native plant communities and tidal flows. Marsh elevation and plant community development over time are monitored using modern remote sensing techniques (e.g. hyperspectral and LiDAR). Plant, benthic invertebrate, fish and bird diversity and density are central to the biodiversity monitoring efforts. Sediment chemistry conditions are monitored to verify that restored areas are not being re-contaminated by tidal waters. The presentation will show how restoration efforts — coupled with biodiversity measurements and continuous air, sediment and water quality monitoring efforts — are helping to return many of the lost ecosystem services. The presentation will also provide reliable baselines to measure progress and lay out the scientific foundation on which to base policy decisions.
“Nitrous oxide is the world’s third largest greenhouse gas
which, in high concentrations, can negatively affect both plant and animal
health. It is released into the atmosphere by a process known as the
Nitrogen Cycle. This is a natural process where nitrogen is reduced with
hydrogen to yield ammonia, a form of nitrogen commonly used by most living
species to synthesize proteins, nucleic acids and other nitrogen containing
compounds. The residual nitrogen is then converted into nitrous oxide
mostly by bacteria found in both soil and plant roots. This presentation is
based on a preliminary study for larger research concerning the ratio of
nitrogen ions and nitrous oxide in the marsh ecosystem of the Meadowlands
region. Sediment from eight various sites have been sampled twice in a two week
period and analyzed for anions, mainly nitrate and nitrite. Two sites with the
highest total nitrate + nitrite concentration , one landfill and one naturally
occurring wetland, will be selected and sampled repeatedly next year for both
nitrous oxide concentrations and soil. The data will be analyzed to
explore 1) the impact of varying levels of nitrate concentrations in soil and
their relationship to nitrous oxide, 2) how this relationship differs between a
landfill site and a man-made wetland, and 3) the seasonal impact on
nitrous oxide admission.”
Presented by: Dr. Annmarie Carlton, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University
Location: Meri Conference Room
Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs) are composed of
submicrometer aerosols, including black carbon and other constituents (e.g.,
Globally, ABCs are a major agent of climate change and
long range pollution transport. Single
particle mass spectra indicate ABC particles in size ranges that efficiently
scatter (e.g., 0.2-1.0 μm) are comprised predominantly of internal
mixtures that include organic carbon.
The vertical profile of organic carbon is not well
simulated in atmospheric models and this contributes substantially to
uncertainty in climate projections because radiative scattering is altitude
Changes in emissions, SOA partitioning parameters, (among
other efforts) do not improve model-predicted vertical profiles, but inclusion
of aqueous phase organic chemistry (e.g., cloud processing of VOCs) does.
Organic “brown” carbon, often associated with humic-like
(HULIS) is ubiquitous in the atmosphere. Sources are thought to include
multi- or mixed-phase atmospheric processes (e.g.,
aqueous phase chemistry in cloud droplets).
It has been demonstrated in recent laboratory experiments that products
of aqueous phase oxidation of water soluble atmospheric gases such as, glyoxal,
methylglyoxal and phenols include HULIS and other light-absorbing
products. In this work I explore how
inclusion of aqueous phase chemistry in clouds in 3-dimensional atmospheric
models changes the predicted vertical profile of particulate carbon. Inclusion of multiphase atmospheric chemistry
improves closure with measurements of short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs),
particularly aloft .
As part of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission GIS
Outreach program, the MERI-GIS department will be presenting the next phase of
its Emergency Response Information System (ERIS) – a webMapping application
that has been used by member municipalities in the Hackensack Meadowlands
District since 2007. This presentation will highlight the new tools that will
enhance the program’s capabilities. Along these lines, ERIS users will be able
to visualize building floorplans that can provide more information, and in the
matters of emergency management – could mean the difference between life and
death. Other components will address emergency guidelines in the form of
size-up and pre-plan forms. A standard guideline that fire departments and/or
emergency managers can ascertain when faced with emergency situations, or
events that may compromise public safety. These components will be available to
the municipalities mid-summer.
Studies in the District have found that the concentration of
Lead (Pb) associated with small particles in the air (PM2.5) is high
compared to suburban areas in New Jersey. In 2008, the EPA established
stricter ambient air quality criteria for Lead based on total suspended
particles (TSP) and not to exceed 0.15 µm/m3 (for rolling 3 month
averaging time). Lead associated with larger sized particles (TSP) in the
District has not been well documented thus far. Therefore, measurements are
needed to establish baseline Lead concentrations in the air using EPA’s new
criteria. The objective is to determine if the District exceeds the new
EPA lead criteria when lead is measured as a fraction of TSP.
We will be using High Volume air samplers to collect TSP
from two locations every six days for a period of one year to determine if the
new criteria for lead are exceeded. MERI will also use the established EPA
standard operating procedure (SOP) to determine the concentration of lead in
Presented by: Brian Kennedy, Michael Mills, Dom Elefante
Location: NJMC - ITV Room
The MERI-GIS Department will be presenting a live demonstration of the newly released version of the popular Municipal Map and Emergency Response Information System (ERIS) to reporters interested in getting a first look at the available mapping tools for their constituent NJMC towns. This webMapping application will provide an effective tool for town officials in viewing, analyzing and drilling down to more detail of their respective towns for planning, emergency management and response, and to assist in their decision making. This program is available to the 14 In-District municipalities. Formal training to towns and NJMC staff will follow.