Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle (UAV) presentation by Steve Cohen


Steven Cohen demonstrated to MERI Staff the latest drone technology for acquisition of aerial imagery and video. Steve coordinates the Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle (UAS) and Mechatronics Education STEM GPS program  at Bergen County Community College (BCC). A future collaboration between MERI and this program would involve on the one hand, the transfer of drone technology to MERI and on the other, BCC students would be trained on image processing techniques and methods at MERI. Drone technology is quickly becoming a preferred tool for environmental monitoring and will complement MERI’s current balloon photography for monitoring estuarine plant and animal communities.



MERI hosts USAID-funded Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program

On October 21, 2014 MERI hosted a USAID-funded Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program facilitated by the Coastal Resources Center of the University of Rhode Island.

The objective of the study tour is to provide opportunities for Vietnamese officials and leaders to consider broader adaption strategies for rivers and deltas.  USAID encourages the tour participants to consider some of the longer-term planning challenges facing deltas, notably with sea level rise and resettlement and various water issues.   To achieve these objectives and to present innovative thinking, the US tour will visit government, business, academia and community leaders working in NY/NJ region as well as New Orleans and the Louisiana region of the Mississippi Delta.    First stop of the tour was the New Jersey Meadowlands which is considered a large urban estuary and where joint actions between a variety of actors from government, industry and communities are addressing the long-term planning challenges facing this and other estuaries and deltas because of sea level rise.

Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program
Vietnam Forests and Deltas Program

Municipal Map Training Sessions

  • Presented by: MERI-GIS
  • Location: ITV Room

New Date added to Training Sessions-Wednesday, November 5, 2014  9am-12pm

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:

August 12, 2014 9am to Noon

September 23, 2014 9am to Noon

November 5, 2014 9am to Noon

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MAC-URISA Conference, Oct 22-24

  • Presented by: Stephanie Bosits, David Wisniewski, Ildiko Pechmann, Sal Kojak & Francisco Artigas
  • Location: Atlantic City Resorts

(MERI & GIS Team Presents on Science & Health of the Meadowlands)

MERI, the scientific arm of the NJ Meadowlands Commission shared valuable work related to the Meadowlands region at the Mid Atlantic Chapter of URISA. This marked the 17th bi-annual MAC-URISA Conference that provides technology-rich moderated sessions, workshops and networking opportunities for GIS professionals. Studies presented by MERI ranged from spatially explicit flood modeling efforts to Balloon photography of wetlands, GIS and permitting workflow, Hyperspectral remote sensing of marsh vegetation and estuary sediment movement patterns. The 3-day event included the GIS communities of the State of New jersey and several Federal, County and municipal entities, including NJDEP, Hudson, Middlesex, Gloucester, Bergen, Atlantic, Burlington, Somerset Counties, NJ Transit, Office of Information Technology, and other public and private entities.

MERI Oral Presentations:

  • Flood Vulnerability Assessment Map for Little Ferry, Moonachie, Carlstadt and South Hackensack – Stephanie Bosits
  • Integrating GIS into a Permit Workflow – David Wisniewski
  • Short-Term Changes Vegetation Assemblage Distribution - Ildiko Pechmann, Ph.D.
  • Balloon Imagery for Assessing Wetland Sites - Sal Kojak
  • The Role of Hydrodynamics & Geomorphology on Sediment Movement in a Fragmented Micro-tidal Estuary: Implications for Coastal Flood Resilience Planning - Francisco Artigas, Ph.D.

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MERI Posters:

Marielis Nunez and Stephanie Bosits. “Flood Vulnerability Study for Carlstadt, Little Ferry, Moonachie and South Hackensack: A Post-Sandy Analysis”. Awarded 1st place

Brian Wlodawski, Francisco Artigas & Joe Grzyb. “The Effects of Marsh Micro-Topography on Tidal Creek Stage Velocity Curves in the Meadowlands”. Awarded 3rd place

Summer Interns 2014

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.


MERI Interns
MERI Interns
MERI Interns

Mechanical Invasive Species Control

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.

Sediment Movement in Tidal Creeks

  • Presented by: MERI Scientists
  • Location: Secaucus High School Marsh

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.

Stage-Velocity Measuring Station setup
Stage-Velocity Measuring Station setup

Three thousand year old ecosystems buried in the Meadowlands of New Jersey

  • Presented by: MERI Scientists
  • Location: Lyndhurst Riverside Marsh


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.


Stage-Velocity Measuring Station setup
Stage-Velocity Measuring Station setup
Stage-Velocity Measuring Station setup

Municipal DPW Dashboard

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.

DPW Dashboard

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

Vertical Beam Echo-Sounder to Map Tidal Creek Bathymetry

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.

Hackensack River Sonar TIN