The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission’s MERI-GIS will be hosting a series of training sessions for In-District municipalities. The sessions will cover how to use the Municipal Map web mapping application – to get municipal officials familiarized with new tools and to get a better understanding of the overall functionality of the tools available. The second component is the Emergency Response Information System (ERIS) which focuses on emergency planning and pre-planning -used mainly by Fire Officials and Fire Fighters, they gain a better understanding of the system and where hazardous substances are located within a facility, and how to handle these chemicals if one is exposed will provide municipal officials added layer of information which is valuable when it comes to saving lives. Other tools that officials can use are the pre-plan page where officials can view all pertinent information about a building, the incident reporting tool which allow a responder to log in current conditions at the time of the call. All of which are then saved back into the database which is maintained by the NJMC. Other modules in the training includes how to gain access to a GPS equipment to collect additional features that the municipalities may need as part of their enterprise GIS, and eventually served out to either the Municipal Map or ERIS. The last module is understanding how to sign up and view data pertaining to the Water-Level Alert system. A real-time water-level sensor located at the Barge Marina, Carlstadt for the use of Emergency Officials and view subsequent flood maps corresponding to water levels, or in general, users wishing to subscribe to this service. Dates for the training sessions are as follows:
This summer MERI staffed 7 interns working in various fields of our institute, GIS, lab, field work and the research Library. As the school year begins we here at MERI would like to wish our summer interns all the best in their future studies.
Samantha Calderon (Bloomfield H.S.) and Marielly Pena (Newark Tech) were brought to us through the program “Explore NJ” for High School students interested in environmental science. Samantha will begin her first year at Bryn Athyn College in Pennsylvania and Marielly is a returning junior at Newark Tech.
Omar Morgan studied under our “Senior Experience” program throughout the school year as well as this summer. He graduated in June from Bergen Academy and will begin his college career at Boston University.
Brian Wlodowski & Maulik Patel will return to college this fall. Brian a 3rd year student at Ramapo College and Maulik will begin his 2nd year at TCNJ.
Isabella Martin will return to Bergen Academy as a Senior and Sumin Lim who was brought to us through Liberty Science Center’s “Partners in Science” program is a senior at East Brunswick High School.
Every year in August a team of MERI scientists with the help of a landscaping crew mechanically remove the invasive Phragmites at the Riverbend Wetland Preserve site to prevent the collapse of the native plant community by the invasive Phragmites australis. The 54 acres of Riverbend Wetland Preserve is undeveloped but is directly adjacent to the Malanka Landfill. Mosquito ditches were dug at the site in the 1920′s and 1930′s. Portions of the site currently support a mixture of native high saltmarsh vegetation, dominated by saltmarsh hay (Spartina patens). Other areas consist of open water and dense monocultures of common reed (Phragmites australis). Rutgers University uses the site as a reference study site due to the presence of native high marsh vegetation. The site was purchased by NJMC in December 1996. This site contains the most extensive and undisturbed high marsh plant community in the Meadowlands which needs to be preserved.
MERI scientists recently completed the first installation of a stage-velocity measuring station at a tidal creek in the Secaucus High School Wetlands Enhancement Site. These measurements are part of an EPA Wetlands Development grant designed to measure impairments to wetland function in the Meadowlands. For coastal wetlands to remain functional and continue to provide valuable ecosystems services such as effective buffer areas against flooding and support high levels of biodiversity they must keep up with sea level rise. Sea level in the Meadowlands District has been measured as rising 2.6 mm/year. For wetland to maintain their ecological function they must collect sufficient sediments so the surface builds up at a rate equal or greater than 2.6 mm/year. Stage velocity curves help determine if wetlands are gaining or loosing sediments. There is no shortage in sediments floating around in tidal creeks In the Meadowlands. These sediments come from water treatment plants and runoff from urban areas and construction sites. Sediments are more likely to be deposited in marsh surfaces when water velocities are greater during the flooding period compared to the ebbing period. Stage velocity curves have never been measured in Meadowlands tidal creeks before and we are hoping to find that water velocities are greater during the flooding period which would mean that most likely these wetlands are keeping up with sea level rise.
Scientists from the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute will be traveling back in time 3000 years to look at the composition of the first wetlands to become established in the Meadowlands of New Jersey. Using a Russian Peat sampler scientists can go back in time and extract sediment core samples buried thousands of years ago containing pollen grains, plant seeds and plant fragments. Tree branches from the original forested fresh water wetlands were recently collected from 17 feet deep samples at the Lyndhurst Riverside Marsh near the New Jersey Turnpike between exists 15 and 16. Carbon 14 dating revealed that some of the first wetlands to become established in the Meadowlands of New Jersey after that last glaciation period date back to 3000 years ago. Scientists will conduct chemical analysis of old pristine buried sediment samples to determine the natural background concentrations of metals in the sediment compared to the postindustrial samples of today. These baselines from pristine samples will help scientists develop strategies for cleaning up contaminated sites.
Available through NJMC/MERI’s WebMapping applications, towns can view and report information on municipal infrastructures such as catchbasins, manholes, stormwater lines and outfalls. Using the online Dashboard municipal workers can view location, orientation and existing conditions. Operators in the field can fill out reports and photos on the fly. It is a helpful tool to report back to DEP which requires detailed inventories of stormwater features, or for internal municipal DPW record keeping. Piloting the application is the Borough of East Rutherford. Municipalities wishing to use the system can access the site using existing ERIS account. If you need further assistance or access accounts, please contact the GIS Department.
Figure 1: Access to the mapping site shows various infrastructures, including attributes
As the NJMC/ MERI GIS Department continue to map all infrastructure for its member towns, municipalities can get the whole picture. Where does a stormwater outfall discharge to? What is the top of rim elevation for a manhole or catchbasin? All these questions can be answered by a single click on a utility feature. For more information and status on this project, please visit MERI’s GIS maps and services http://meri.njmeadowlands.gov/maps/.
The Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute is working to uncover the depths of the Hackensack River and its branching tributaries. Using consumer grade Vertical Beam Echo-Sounders MERI is using sonar to collect data to produce digital terrain models of the riverine system. The depth sounding is converted into elevation with the use of RTK GPS in order to create the model. The data will be used for further research on understanding the health of the Meadowlands.
The New Jersey MeadowlandsCommission/Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute-Geographic Information Systems Unit will be presenting how GIS is used in the NJMC, and how it is utilized as a shared service to the 14-member municipalities. Use of GIS technology will be showcased in how Commission staff have access to live maps on NJMC’s permit tracking application (CityView) to municipalities’ access for variance notification on the popular Municipal Map. The GIS Unit will also illustrate functional GIS tools (such as buffering, measuring, identifying); display of data layers, like parcels, land use, zoning, utilities, BFEs, soil class & much more. In addition, the team will illustrate how GIS is used for emergency response and planning through its Emergency Response Information System (ERIS) application. ERIS is only accessible via user accounts created by the GIS Unit provided to town officials; it is not a public-facing application.
The NJMC-Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) will be accepting bid proposals for the Hyperspectral Acquisition of the Meadowlands District. Beginning on May 7, 2014 a copy of the proposal can be picked up at the NJMC offices or downloaded from the NJMC website.
A record 40 maps were entered in the NJDEP’s 27th annual GIS mapping contest held April 10 in Trenton. There were eight categories that accompanied this year’s theme: GIS Keeping New Jersey Safe. The contest theme winner, Using a Mobile Device to Collect and Retrieve Pre-Plan Information for Fire Emergencies, was created by Marielis Nunez and Jose Baez. They took the BEST OVERALL MAP awarded to MERI-GIS.