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  • 1
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1.2010 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-4433
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 2
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing | International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS)
    Online: 1.2012 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing , International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS)
    Electronic ISSN: 2220-9964
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geosciences
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  • 3
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2012 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-445X
    Topics: Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
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  • 4
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    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2015 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2312-7481
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology
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  • 5
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1.2011 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2075-163X
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 6
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    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2015 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2313-576X
    Topics: Technology
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  • 7
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2012 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2076-0825
    Topics: Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology , Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Production Engineering, Mining and Metallurgy, Traffic Engineering, Precision Mechanics
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  • 8
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1.2011 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2077-0472
    Topics: Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
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  • 9
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2012 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2079-6382
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Medicine
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  • 10
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2013 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2075-4434
    Topics: Physics
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  • 11
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1.2011 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2076-3263
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 12
    Journal cover
    MDPI Publishing
    Online: 1(1).2012 –
    Publisher: MDPI Publishing
    Electronic ISSN: 2079-9276
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 13
    Publication Date: 2015-02-14
    Description: The increasing number of Chinese sensor types used for terrestrial remote sensing has necessitated an additional effort to evaluate and standardize the data they acquire. In this study, we assessed the potential use of GF-1 WFV (Wild Field Camera), ZY-3 MUX (Multi-spectral camera), and HJ-1 CCD (Charge Coupled Device) sensor data for grassland monitoring by comparing spectral field measurements, vegetation coverage, and the leaf area index (LAI) of grassland stands with reflectance in the red and near-infrared bands and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Based on spectral field measurements, the characteristic differences of spectral response functions of the sensors were analyzed. Based on simulations using the SAIL bidirectional canopy reflectance model coupled with the PROSPECT leaf optical properties model (PROSAIL), we investigated the effects of changes in the sensors’ zenith angle caused by side sway. The following conclusions were drawn. (1) Differences in the adjusted coefficients of determination (R2) exist when comparing correlations between the reflectances from the three sensor types in different bands. The values of R2 are 0.556–0.893 and 0.819–0.850 for the infrared and red bands, respectively, and these data show a better correlation for the red band than for the infrared band. Fitted slope equations revealed inconsistencies in the data between the different sensor types. In the red band, GF-1 WFV and HJ-1 CCD data are the most consistent, but in the near-infrared band, GF-1 WFV and ZY-3 MUX data are the most consistent; (2) The correlation of NDVIs obtained from the different sensor types is high (R2 between 0.758 and 0.852); however, the consistency is low in that the NDVI based on GF-1 WFV data is significantly higher than that based on ZY-3 MUX and HJ-1 CCD data. In contrast, the mean difference is small between the NDVIs based on ZY-3 MUX and HJ-1 CCD; (3) Correlation analysis between ground grass-coverage and measured LAI data shows that the three sensor types are better at estimating coverage than the LAI, and that the GF-1 WFV sensor gave the best performance; (4) Changes in the sensors’ zenith angle caused by side sway were proven to have greater impact on reflectance and NDVI than the spectral response function; (5) For LAI values of 0–3, the NDVI changes significantly with increasing LAI, and differences between the three sensor types are obvious. For LAI > 3.5, the NDVI appears to experience a saturated tendency, which greatly reduces the differences between the sensors.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 14
    Publication Date: 2015-02-14
    Description: The idea of construction of twin buildings is as old as architecture itself, and yet there is hardly any study emphasizing their specificity. Most frequently there are two objects or elements in an architectural composition of “twins” in which there may be various symmetry relations, mostly bilateral symmetries. The classification of “twins” symmetry in this paper is based on the existence of bilateral symmetry, in terms of the perception of an observer. The classification includes both, 2D and 3D perception analyses. We start analyzing a pair of twin buildings with projection of the architectural composition elements in 2D picture plane (plane of the composition) and we distinguish four 2D keyframe cases based on the relation between the bilateral symmetry of the twin composition and the bilateral symmetry of each element. In 3D perception for each 2D keyframe case there are two sub-variants, with and without a symmetry plane parallel to the picture plane. The bilateral symmetry is dominant if the corresponding symmetry plane is orthogonal to the picture plane. The essence of the complete classification is relation between the bilateral (dominant) symmetry of the architectural composition and the bilateral symmetry of each element of that composition.
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-8994
    Topics: Mathematics , Physics
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 15
    Publication Date: 2015-02-14
    Description: Recently, as vehicle computing technology has advanced, the paradigm of the vehicle has changed from a simple means of transportation to a smart vehicle for safety and convenience. In addition, the previous functions of the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) such as traffic accident prevention and providing traffic volume information have been combined with cloud computing. ITS services provide user-oriented broad services in the Vehicular Cloud Computing (VCC) environment through efficient traffic management, traffic accident prevention, and convenience services. However, existing vehicle services focus on providing services using sensing information inside the vehicle and the system to provide the service through an interface with the external infrastructure is insufficient. In addition, because wireless networks are used in VCC environments, there is a risk of important information leakage from sensors inside the vehicle, such as driver personal identification and payment information at the time of goods purchase. We propose the VCC Service-oriented Security Framework (VCC-SSF) to address the limitations and security threats of VCC-based services. The proposed framework considers security for convenient and efficient services of VCC and includes new user-oriented payment management and active accident management services. Furthermore, it provides authentication, encryption, access control, confidentiality, integrity, and privacy protection for user personal information and information inside the vehicle.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 16
    Publication Date: 2015-02-14
    Description: The use of contaminated surface water continues to be a pressing issue in areas of the world where people lack improved drinking water sources. In northern coastal Ecuador, many communities rely on untreated surface water as their primary source of drinking water. We undertook a study to explore how microscale river hydrodynamics affect microbial water quality at community water collection locations at three rivers with varying stream velocity and turbidity profiles. To examine how the distance from river shore and physiochemical water quality variables affect microbial contamination levels in the rivers; we collected a total of 355 water samples within six villages on three rivers; and tested for Escherichia coli concentrations using the IDEXX Quanti-tray method. We found that log10 E. coli concentrations decreased with increasing distance from shore (β = −0.017; p = 0.003). Water in the main channel had E. coli concentrations on average 0.12 log10 lower than within eddies along the river shore and 0.27 log10 lower between the sample closest to shore and any sample >6 m from the shore. Higher E. coli concentrations were also significantly associated with increased turbidity (β = 0.003; p 〈 0.0001) and decreased dissolved oxygen levels (β = −0.310; p 〈 0.0001). The results of this study can help inform community members about the safest locations to collect drinking water and also provide information on watershed scale transport of microbial contaminants between villages.
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-4441
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 17
    Publication Date: 2015-02-14
    Description: Extracting surface water distribution with satellite imagery has been an important subject in remote sensing. Spectral indices of water only use information from a limited number of bands, thus they may have poor performance from pixels contaminated by ice/snow, clouds, etc. The detection algorithms using information from all spectral bands, such as constrained energy minimization (CEM), could avoid this problem to some extent. However, these are mostly designed for hyperspectral imagery, and may fail when applied to multispectral data. It has been proved that adding linearly irrelevant data to original data could improve the performance of CEM. In this study, two kinds of linearly irrelevant data are added for water extraction: the spectral indices and the spectral similarity metric data. CEM is designed for targets with low-probability distribution in an image, but water bodies do not always satisfy this condition. We thereby impose a sensible coefficient for each pixel to form the weighted autocorrelation matrix. In this study, the weight is based on the orthogonal subspace projection, so this new method is named Orthogonal subspace projection Weighted CEM (OWCEM). The newly launched Landsat 8 images over two lakes, the Hala Lake in China with ice/snow distributed in the north, and the Huron Lake in North America, a lake with a very large surface area, are selected to test the accuracy and robustness of our algorithm. The Kappa coefficient and the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve are calculated as an accuracy evaluation standard. For both lakes, our method can greatly suppress the background (including ice/snow and clouds) and extract the complete water surface with a high accuracy (Kappa coefficient > 0.96).
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-4441
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 18
    Publication Date: 2015-02-17
    Description: The article aimed to analytically investigate the thermophysical behaviors of a ferrofluid in a vertical rectangle with the variation of intensity of the magnetic field, viscosity of the ferrofluid and boundary conditions. The governing equations of the ferrofluid include the continuity, momentum and energy equations for describing the thermal-fluidic behaviors of the ferrofluid and the Maxwell equation and magnetization equation are also added to consider rotating effect of the nano-sized particles. The flow behavior and heat transfer characteristics of the ferrofluid with the intensity of the magnetic field, viscosities of the ferrofluid and boundary conditions were analyzed through isotherms, velocity profiles and both mean and local Nusselt numbers. As a result, the isotherms of the ferrofluid in the vertical rectangle increased with the increase of the magnetic volume fractions and magnetic field intensities. In addition, the mean Nusselt numbers increased with the increase of magnetite volume fractions at all magnetic field intensities because of the combined effects of both heat conduction by magnetite and the magnetic volume force.
    Electronic ISSN: 1099-4300
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Physics
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 19
    Publication Date: 2015-02-17
    Description: A method of wetland mapping and flood survey based on satellite optical imagery from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Terra instrument was used over the Inner Niger Delta (IND) from 2000–2013. It has allowed us to describe the phenomenon of inundations in the delta and to decompose the flooded areas in the IND into open water and mixture of water and dry land, and that aquatic vegetation is separated from bare soil and “dry” vegetation. An Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis of the MODIS data and precipitation rates from a global gridded data set is carried out. Connections between flood sequence and precipitation patterns from the upstream part of the Niger and Bani river watersheds up to the IND are studied. We have shown that inter-annual variability of flood dominates over the IND and we have estimated that the surface extent of open water varies by a factor of four between dry and wet years. We finally observed an increase in vegetation over the 14 years of study and a slight decrease of open water.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 20
    Publication Date: 2015-02-17
    Description: The rising attention to energy consumption problems is renewing interest in the applications of thermal remote sensing in urban areas. The research presented here aims to test a methodology to retrieve information about roof surface temperature by means of a high resolution orthomosaic of airborne thermal infrared images, based on a case study acquired over Bologna (Italy). The ultimate aim of such work is obtaining datasets useful to support, in a GIS environment, the decision makers in developing adequate strategies to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emission. In the processing proposed, the computing of radiometric quantities related to the atmosphere was performed by the Modtran 5 radiative transfer code, while an object-oriented supervised classification was applied on a WorldView-2 multispectral image, together with a high-resolution digital surface model (DSM), to distinguish among the major roofing material types and to model the effects of the emissivity. The emissivity values were derived from literature data, except for some roofing materials, which were measured during ad hoc surveys, by means of a thermal camera and a contact probe. These preliminary results demonstrate the high sensitivity of the model to the variability of the surface emissivity and of the atmospheric parameters, especially transmittance and upwelling radiance.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 21
    Publication Date: 2015-02-17
    Description: Plant breeding based on grain yield (GY) is an expensive and time-consuming method, so new indirect estimation techniques to evaluate the performance of crops represent an alternative method to improve grain yield. The present study evaluated the ability of canopy reflectance spectroscopy at the range from 350 to 2500 nm to predict GY in a large panel (368 genotypes) of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) through multivariate ridge regression models. Plants were treated under three water regimes in the Mediterranean conditions of central Chile: severe water stress (SWS, rain fed), mild water stress (MWS; one irrigation event around booting) and full irrigation (FI) with mean GYs of 1655, 4739, and 7967 kg∙ha−1, respectively. Models developed from reflectance data during anthesis and grain filling under all water regimes explained between 77% and 91% of the GY variability, with the highest values in SWS condition. When individual models were used to predict yield in the rest of the trials assessed, models fitted during anthesis under MWS performed best. Combined models using data from different water regimes and each phenological stage were used to predict grain yield, and the coefficients of determination (R2) increased to 89.9% and 92.0% for anthesis and grain filling, respectively. The model generated during anthesis in MWS was the best at predicting yields when it was applied to other conditions. Comparisons against conventional reflectance indices were made, showing lower predictive abilities. It was concluded that a Ridge Regression Model using a data set based on spectral reflectance at anthesis or grain filling represents an effective method to predict grain yield in genotypes under different water regimes.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 22
    Publication Date: 2015-02-18
    Description: Since the October 2011 launch of the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument, a number of inter-sensor comparisons between VIIRS and MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) radiances have been reported. Most of these comparisons are between calibrated radiances and temperatures based on observations of the two sensors from simultaneous nadir overpasses (SNO). Few comparisons between the retrieved ocean color data products, such as chlorophyll concentration, from VIIRS and MODIS data have been reported. Retrievals from measured data at large solar zenith angles and large view zenith angles are excluded from these comparison studies. In this paper, we report the inter-sensor comparisons between VIIRS and MODIS data acquired over the Chesapeake Bay and nearby areas with relatively large differences in sensor view angles. The goal for this study is to check the consistency between MODIS and VIIRS ocean color data products in order to merge the products from the two sensors. We compare total radiances (Lt) at the top of atmosphere (TOA) and the ocean color (OC) data products derived with the automatic processing system (APS) from both VIIRS and MODIS data. APS was developed at the Naval Research Laboratory, Stennis Space Center (NRL/SSC). We have found that, although there are large differences between the measured radiances (Lt) of the two sensors when the sensor zenith angle differences are significant, the mean percent differences between the retrieved normalized water-leaving radiances are about 15%. The results show that the variation in satellite view zenith angles is not a main factor affecting the retrieval of ocean color data products, i.e., the atmospheric correction routine adequately removes the view-angle dependence.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 23
    Publication Date: 2015-02-18
    Description: Increasing global demand for oil seeds and cereals during the past 50 years has caused an expansion in the cultivated areas and resulted in major soil management and crop production changes throughout Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and southern Brazil. Unprecedented adoption of no-tillage as well as improved soil fertility and plant genetics have increased yields, but the use of purchased inputs, monocropping i.e., continuous soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), and marginal land cultivation have also increased. These changes have significantly altered the global food and feed supply role of these countries, but they have also resulted in various levels of soil degradation through wind and water erosion, soil compaction, soil organic matter (SOM) depletion, and nutrient losses. Sustainability is dependent upon local interactions between soil, climate, landscape characteristics, and production systems. This review examines the region’s current soil and crop conditions and summarizes several research studies designed to reduce or prevent soil degradation. Although the region has both environmental and soil resources that can sustain current agricultural production levels, increasing population, greater urbanization, and more available income will continue to increase the pressure on South American croplands. A better understanding of regional soil differences and quantifying potential consequences of current production practices on various soil resources is needed to ensure that scientific, educational, and regulatory programs result in land management recommendations that support intensification of agriculture without additional soil degradation or other unintended environmental consequences.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 24
    Publication Date: 2015-02-19
    Description: Integrated forest management is faced with the challenge that the contribution of forests to economic and ecological planning targets must be assessed in a socio-ecological system context. This paper introduces a way to model spatio-temporal dynamics of biomass production at a regional scale in order to derive land use strategies that enhance biomass provision and avoid trade-offs for other ecosystem services. The software platform GISCAME was employed to bridge the gap between local land management decisions and regional planning by linking growth and yield models with an integrative mesoscale modeling and assessment approach. The model region is located in Saxony, Germany. Five scenarios were simulated, which aimed at testing different alternatives for adapted land use in the context of climate change and increasing biomass demand. The results showed, for example, that forest conversion towards climate-change-adapted forest types had positive effects on ecological integrity and landscape aesthetics. In contrast, negative impacts on landscape aesthetics must be expected if agricultural sites were converted into short rotation coppices. Uncertainties with stem from assumptions regarding growth and yield models were discussed. Future developmental steps which consider, for example, accessibility of the resources were identified.
    Electronic ISSN: 1999-4907
    Topics: Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 25
    Publication Date: 2015-02-24
    Description: Background: There are well-documented gender differences in adolescent suicidal behavior; death by suicide is more common in males, while nonfatal suicide attempts are more common among females. Over the past three decades, researchers have documented the effectiveness of a myriad of suicide prevention initiatives. However, there has been insufficient attention to which types of suicide prevention interventions are effective in changing attitudes and behaviors for young males and females. In this review of the literature, we consider common examples of primarily universal suicide prevention programs from three implementation settings: school-based, community-based, and healthcare-based. Our purpose is to delineate how the potential gender bias in such strategies may translate into youth suicide prevention efforts. Methods: Research in which gender was found to moderate program success was retrieved through online databases. Results: The results that feature programming effects for both males and females are provocative, suggesting that when gender differences are evident, in almost all cases, females seem to be more likely than males to benefit from existing prevention programming. Conclusions: We conclude by considering recommendations that may benefit males more directly. Implications for adolescent suicide prevention in particular are discussed. Personalization of suicide intervention is presented as a promising solution to reduce suicide rates.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 26
    Publication Date: 2015-02-24
    Description: The study aimed to assess the prevalence of Legionella spp. in dental unit waterlines of a dental clinic and to verify whether the microbiological parameters used as indicators of water quality were correlated with Legionella contamination. A risk management plan was subsequently implemented in the dental health care setting, in order to verify whether the adopted disinfection protocols were effective in preventing Legionella colonization. The water delivered from syringes and turbines of 63 dental units operating in a dental clinic, was monitored for counts of the heterotrophic bacteria P. aeruginosa and Legionella spp. (22 °C and 37 °C). At baseline, output water from dental units continuously treated with disinfection products was more compliant with the recommended standards than untreated and periodically treated water. However, continuous disinfection was still not able to prevent contamination by Legionella and P. aeruginosa. Legionella was isolated from 36.4%, 24.3% and 53.3% of samples from untreated, periodically and continuously treated waterlines, respectively. The standard microbiological parameters used as indicators of water quality proved to be unreliable as predictors of the presence of Legionella, whose source was identified as the tap water used to supply the dental units. The adoption of control measures, including the use of deionized water in supplying the dental unit waterlines and the application of a combined protocol of continuous and periodic disinfection, with different active products for the different devices, resulted in good control of Legionella contamination. The efficacy of the measures adopted was mainly linked to the strict adherence to the planned protocols, which placed particular stress on staff training and ongoing environmental monitoring.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 27
    Publication Date: 2015-02-24
    Description: This cross-sectional study is one of the first to examine and compare the independent associations of objectively measured sedentary time, moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and fitness with cardio-metabolic risk factors. We studied 543 men and women (aged 18–49 years) from the NHANES 2003–2004 survey. Sedentary time and MVPA were measured by accelerometry. Fitness was assessed with a submaximal treadmill test. Cardio-metabolic risk factors included: waist circumference (WC), BMI, blood pressure, fasting glucose, HDL- and non HDL cholesterol, triglycerides (TG), and C-reactive protein (CRP). Sedentary time, MVPA and fitness were used as predictors for the cardio-metabolic outcomes in a multiple regression analysis. Standardized regression coefficients were computed. Results show that sedentary time was associated with HDL-cholesterol (β = −0.080, p = 0.05) and TG (β = 0.080, p = 0.03). These results became non-significant after adjustment for MVPA and fitness. MVPA was associated with WC (β = −0.226), BMI (β = −0.239), TG (β = −0.108) and HDL-cholesterol (β = 0.144) (all p 〈 0.05). These results remained significant after adjustment for sedentary time and fitness. Fitness was associated with WC (β = −0.287), BMI (β = −0.266), systolic blood pressure (β = −0.159), TG (β = −0.092), and CRP (β = −0.130) (all p 〈 0.05). After adjustment for sedentary time and MVPA these results remained significant. These differences in relative importance of sedentary time, MVPA and fitness on cardio-metabolic-risk are important in the design of prevention programs. In this population, the strength of the associations between MVPA and fitness with cardio-metabolic markers appeared to be similar; both MVPA and fitness showed independent associations with cardio-metabolic risk factors. In contrast, sedentary time showed no independent associations with cardio-metabolic risk after correction for fitness and MVPA.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 28
    Publication Date: 2015-02-24
    Description: Multiple laser scanner hardware configurations can be applied to Mobile Mapping Systems. As best practice, laser scanners are rotated horizontally or inclined vertically to increase the probability of contact between the laser scan plane and any surfaces that are perpendicular to the direction of travel. Vertical inclinations also maximise the number of scan profiles striking narrow vertical features, something that can be of use when trying to recognise features. Adding a second scanner allows an MMS to capture more data and improve laser coverage of an area by filling in laser shadows. However, in any MMS the orientation of each scanner on the platform must be decided upon. Changes in the horizontal or vertical orientations of the scanner can increase the range to vertical targets and the road surface, with excessive scanner angles lowering point density significantly. Limited information is available to assist the manufacturers or operators in identifying the optimal scanner orientation for roadside surveys. The method proposed in this paper applies 3D surface normals and geometric formulae to assess the influence of scanner orientation on point distribution. It was demonstrated that by changing the orientation of the scanner the number of pulses striking a target could be greatly increased, and the number of profiles intersecting with the target could also be increased—something that is particularly important for narrow vertical features. The importance of identifying the correct trade-off between the number of profiles intersecting with the target and the point spacing was also raised.
    Electronic ISSN: 2220-9964
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geosciences
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  • 29
    Publication Date: 2015-02-26
    Description: The southern region of the U.S. uses prescribed fire as a management tool on more of its burnable land than anywhere in the U.S., with ecosystem restoration, wildlife habitat enhancement, and reduction of hazardous fuel loads as typical goals. Although the region performs more than 50,000 prescribed fire treatments each year, evaluation of their effects on wildfire suppression resources or behavior/effects is limited. To better understand trends in the use and effectiveness of prescribed fire, we conducted a region-wide survey of 523 fire use practitioners, working on both public and private lands. A 1–2 year prescribed fire interval was consistently viewed as effective in decreasing wildfire ignitions, behavior, and severity, as well as reducing suppression resources needed where wildfire occurred. Yet fewer than 15% of practitioners viewed burn intervals of 3–4 years as effective in reducing ignitions, underscoring the importance of high-frequency burning in vegetation communities where fuel recovery is rapid. Public lands managers identified limited budget and staffing as major institutional impediments to prescribed fire, in contrast to private individuals, more of whom chose liability as a key challenge. Differences in responses across ownership type, state, and vegetation type call for a broader perspective on how fire managers in the southern U.S. view prescribed fire.
    Electronic ISSN: 1999-4907
    Topics: Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
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  • 30
    Publication Date: 2015-02-26
    Description: Negative perceptions such as fear or worry are known to be an important determinant of annoyance. Annoyance caused by noise and odour has been analysed in relation to worry about safety or health due to environmental hazards, using responses to a health survey. In the survey area high environmental impacts come from air and road traffic. The survey results show a correlation between worry due to the airport or passing aircraft and noise and odour annoyance from aircraft (correlation coefficient (c.c.) close to 0.6). For the relation between worry about a busy street and annoyance from road traffic the correlation is lower (c.c. 0.4–0.5). Worries about different situations, such as living below sea level, close to an airport, busy street or chemical industry, are highly correlated (c.c. 0.5–0.9), also for situations that are not obviously related. Personal factors can also lead to more worry: being female, above 35 years of age, having a high risk for anxiety/depression and being in bad health increase the odds for being worried. The results thus suggest that worry about safety or health is correlated to both personal and environmental factors.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 31
    Publication Date: 2015-02-26
    Description: The relaxation effects of gardening have attracted attention; however, very few studies have researched its physiological effects on humans. This study aimed to clarify the physiological and psychological effects on high school students of viewing real and artificial pansies. Forty high school students (male: 19, female: 21) at Chiba Prefectural Kashiwanoha Senior High School, Japan, participated in this experiment. The subjects were presented with a visual stimulation of fresh yellow pansies (Viola x wittrockiana “Nature Clear Lemon”) in a planter for 3 min. Artificial yellow pansies in a planter were used as the control. Heart rate variability was used as a physiological measurement and the modified semantic differential method was used for subjective evaluation. Compared with artificial pansies, visual stimulation with real flowers resulted in a significant decrease in the ratio of low- to high-frequency heart rate variability component, which reflects sympathetic nerve activity. In contrast, high frequency, which reflects parasympathetic nerve activity, showed no significant difference. With regard to the psychological indices, viewing real flowers resulted in “comfortable”, “relaxed”, and “natural” feelings. The findings indicate that visual stimulation with real pansies induced physiological and psychological relaxation effects in high school students.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 32
    Publication Date: 2015-02-26
    Description: Digital Earth frameworks provide a tool to receive, send and interact with large location-based datasets, organized usually according to Discrete Global Grid Systems (DGGS). In DGGS, an indexing method is used to assign a unique index to each cell of a global grid, and the datasets corresponding to these cells are retrieved or allocated using this unique index. There exist many methods to index cells of DGGS. Toward facility, interoperability and also defining a “standard” for DGGS, a conversion is needed to translate a dataset from one DGGS to another. In this paper, we first propose a categorization of indexing methods of DGGS and then define a general conversion method from one indexing to another. Several examples are presented to describe the method.
    Electronic ISSN: 2220-9964
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geosciences
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  • 33
    Publication Date: 2015-02-26
    Description: Landsat-8 was launched on 11 February 2013 with two new Earth Imaging sensors to provide a continued data record with the previous Landsats. For Landsat-8, pushbroom technology was adopted, and the reflective bands and thermal bands were split into two instruments. The Operational Land Imager (OLI) is the reflective band sensor and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS), the thermal. In addition to these fundamental changes, bands were added, spectral bandpasses were refined, dynamic range and data quantization were improved, and numerous other enhancements were implemented. As in previous Landsat missions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) cooperated in the development, launch and operation of the Landsat-8 mission. One key aspect of this cooperation was in the characterization and calibration of the instruments and their data. This Special Issue documents the efforts of the joint USGS and NASA calibration team and affiliates to characterize the new sensors and their data for the benefit of the scientific and application users of the Landsat archive. A key scientific use of Landsat data is to assess changes in the land-use and land cover of the Earth’s surface over the now 43-year record. [...]
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
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  • 34
    Publication Date: 2015-02-27
    Description: The characterization of spatiotemporal complexity remains a challenging task. This holds in particular for the analysis of data from fluorescence imaging (optical mapping), which allows for the measurement of membrane potential and intracellular calcium at high spatial and temporal resolutions and, therefore, allows for an investigation of cardiac dynamics. Dominant frequency maps and the analysis of phase singularities are frequently used for this type of excitable media. These methods address some important aspects of cardiac dynamics; however, they only consider very specific properties of excitable media. To extend the scope of the analysis, we present a measure based on entropy rates for determining spatiotemporal complexity patterns of excitable media. Simulated data generated by the Aliev–Panfilov model and the cubic Barkley model are used to validate this method. Then, we apply it to optical mapping data from monolayers of cardiac cells from chicken embryos and compare our findings with dominant frequency maps and the analysis of phase singularities. The studies indicate that entropy rate maps provide additional information about local complexity, the origins of wave breakup and the development of patterns governing unstable wave propagation.
    Electronic ISSN: 1099-4300
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Physics
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  • 35
    Publication Date: 2015-02-27
    Description: Salmonella contamination of eggs and egg shells has been identified as a public health concern worldwide. A recent shift in consumer preferences has impacted on the egg industry, with a push for cage-free egg production methods. There has also been an increased desire from consumers for raw and unprocessed foods, potentially increasing the risk of salmonellosis. In response to these changes, this review explores the current literature regarding Salmonella contamination of eggs during the production processing through to food handling protocols. The contamination of eggs with Salmonella during the production process is a complex issue, influenced by many variables including flock size, flock age, stress, feed, vaccination, and cleaning routines. Currently there is no consensus regarding the impact of caged, barn and free range egg production has on Salmonella contamination of eggs. The literature regarding the management and control strategies post-collection, during storage, transport and food handling is also reviewed. Pasteurisation and irradiation were identified as the only certain methods for controlling Salmonella and are essential for the protection of high risk groups, whereas control of temperature and pH were identified as potential control methods to minimise the risk for foods containing raw eggs; however, further research is required to provide more detailed control protocols and education programs to reduce the risk of salmonellosis from egg consumption.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 36
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: The two major pathways for energy utilization from biomass are conversion to a liquid fuel (i.e., biofuels) or conversion to electricity (i.e., biopower). In the United States (US), biomass policy has focused on biofuels. However, this paper will investigate three options for biopower: low co-firing (co-firing scenarios refer to combusting a given percentage of biomass with coal) (5%–10% biomass), medium co-firing (15%–20% biomass), and dedicated biomass firing (100% biomass). We analyze the economic and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions impact of each of these options, with and without CO2 capture and storage (CCS). Our analysis shows that in the absence of land use change emissions, all biomass co-combustion scenarios result in a decrease in GHG emissions over coal generation alone. The two biggest barriers to biopower are concerns about carbon neutrality of biomass fuels and the high cost compared to today’s electricity prices. This paper recommends two policy actions. First, the need to define sustainability criteria and initiate a certification process so that biomass providers have a fixed set of guidelines to determine whether their feedstocks qualify as renewable energy sources. Second, the need for a consistent, predictable policy that provides the economic incentives to make biopower economically attractive.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 37
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Compared with the three-phase, two-split-capacitor active power filter (3P2C-APF), the three-phase, four-leg active power filter (3P4L-APF) has been widely used in three-phase, four-wire grid utility for power quality control due to its numerous advantages, such as higher current output capability, particularly in phase N, lower current and easier voltage control on the DC-side. However, designing the grid-connecting interface, which is between the voltage source converter (VSC) and grid utility, is rather difficult due to the higher requirement for current ripple filtering in phase N, cross-coupling in four phases and lack of relevant design methodology and specification. In this paper, a four-branch LCL-type (4B-LCL) grid-connecting interface is proposed for 3P4L-APF, which features better current ripple filtering performance without decreasing the current output capability in all phases. First, this paper describes the mathematical models of 4B-LCL in the fully-complex-vector form from the zero and non-zero sequence perspective, resulting in two independent and uniform equivalent circuits without cross coupling terms. Then, the 4B-LCL parameter design method based on the most comprehensive performance index is proposed, including three main stages as the specification: performance index requirement determination, fulfillment of that requirement, and verification. Finally, the validity and effectiveness of the proposed design are proven by the simulated and experimental results of a 3P4L-APF with 4B-LCL.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 38
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) forests in Slovenia are experiencing widespread mortality. Changes in lowlands are reflected in decline of complete forest complexes, high mortality, uneven stand structure and associated forest regeneration problems. Prediction of the present-tree response in disturbed forest ecosystems may significantly contribute to better guideline policies for the silvicultural and forest management practice in the changing environment in both stressed and stabile forest ecosystems. Data from annual crown condition surveys for the 1995–2014 period from four permanent plots have been compared with parameters from hemispherical photo analysis and hydrometeorological data. Good agreement has been confirmed between crown defoliation and total openness; all parameters from the hemispherical photo analysis, which were corrected for winter period values, also indicated a better agreement. Mortality rate and crown defoliation correlated well with extreme drought events in 2003 and 2013. Pattern of agreement among compared parameters was different for the plots Krakovski gozd, Dobrava and some other plots. Mortality is influenced by the average air temperatures much more than by precipitation and groundwater table oscillations.
    Electronic ISSN: 1999-4907
    Topics: Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Fishery, Domestic Science, Nutrition
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  • 39
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: An approach based on the Penman-Monteith equation was used to estimate the actual evapotranspiration from local meteorological data over non-homogeneous land cover in a Mediterranean site in the south-east of Italy, with two six month data sets from two different years of measurements (2006 and 2009). The “critical resistance” formulation was used in different forms to model the surface resistance, together with some modifications to take into account the soil moisture content. One, two, or three model parameters were estimated, one of them related to the atmospheric resistance and the others to the surface resistance, and the calibration was made by either linear regression or nonlinear minimization of a proper cost function, depending on the applicability. Two kinds of cost functions were tested, the first depending on both the latent heat flux and the difference between screen air temperature and surface radiometric temperature, and the second depending on the temperature difference only. In all cases the calculated fluxes give better results with respect to both a flux-gradient approach and a complementarity based method, that require comparable data inputs. However the calibration by the temperature differences only, that requires no turbulent flux measurements, considerably increases the statistical uncertainty of the calibration parameters. The inclusion of the soil moisture did not significantly improve the model results in the considered site.
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-4433
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 40
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Due to the highly heterogeneous and dynamic nature of urban areas in Chinese cities, air pollution exhibits well-defined spatial variations. Rapid urbanization in China has heightened the importance of understanding and characterizing atmospheric particulate matter (PM) concentrations and their spatiotemporal variations. To investigate the small-scale spatial variations in PM in Xiamen, total suspended particulate (TSP), PM10, PM5 and PM2.5 measurements were collected between August and September in 2012. Their average mass concentrations were 102.50 μg∙m−3, 82.79 μg∙m−3, 55.67 μg∙m−3 and 43.70 μg∙m−3, respectively. Organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) in PM2.5 were measured using thermal optical transmission. Based on the PM concentrations for all size categories, the following order for the different functional areas studied was identified: hospital > park > commercial area > residential area > industrial area. OC contributed approximately 5%–23% to the PM2.5 mass, whereas EC accounted for 0.8%–6.95%. Secondary organic carbon constituted most of the carbonaceous particles found in the park, commercial, industrial and residential areas, with the exception of hospitals. The high PM and EC concentrations in hospitals were primarily caused by vehicle emissions. Thus, the results suggest that long-term plans should be to limit the number of vehicles entering hospital campuses, construct large-capacity underground parking structures, and choose hospital locations far from major roads.
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-4433
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 41
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Biodiesel is obtained by the process of transesterification of vegetable oils and animal fats and crude glycerol is the main by-product of the biodiesel manufacturing chain. As a result glycerol production has rapidly increased in the last decades. This work focuses on the development and the validation of a process to convert biodiesel-derived glycerol into a fuel for internal combustion engines. In order to obtain a higher conversion efficiency it was necessary to convert crude glycerol to tert-butyl ethers by means of an etherification process that was carried out in the laboratory. Then the obtained glycol-ethers mixture (GEM) was blended with a commercial diesel fuel to improve its thermal efficiency. In this paper a life cycle analysis for these GEM/diesel blends was carried out using a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, in order to evaluate the environmental impacts of these new oxy-fuels; from GEM production to GEM use as an additive for diesel fuel. The LCA results highlight that the use of these new oxy-fuels in diesel engines can lead to an effective reduction in terms of greenhouse gases emissions throughout the entire life cycle.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 42
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: The deployment of a miniature mobile-phone base station or small cell in a train car significantly improves the coverage and the capacity of a mobile network service on the train. However, the impact of the small cell on the passengers’ exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) is unknown. In this study, we assessed experimentally the RF-EMF exposure of a mobile-phone user who is either connected to the outdoor macrocell network or to an in-train small cell, while traveling on the train, by means of the absorbed-dose concept, which combines the base station downlink exposure with the mobile-phone uplink exposure. For Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology at 1800 MHz, we found that by connecting to a small cell, the brain exposure of the user could realistically be reduced by a factor 35 and the whole-body exposure by a factor 11.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 43
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Tribal people living in hilly areas suffer from water scarcity in many parts of the world, including India. Water scarcity adversely impacts all aspects of life, including public health. Implementation of an Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) can help solve the problems arising out of water scarcity in such areas. However, the knowledge about and views of the water scarcity sufferers on the public health implications of IWMP have not been well documented. This cross-sectional study was performed in six purposively selected tribal villages located in Maharashtra, India. In three of the villages IWMP had been implemented (IWMV), but not in the other three (NWMV). The head of each household in all villages was interviewed using a questionnaire covering various public health aspects relevant to the villages. A total of 286/313 (92%) households participated in the study. Compared to NWMV, respondents in IWMV experienced significantly lesser prolonged water scarcity (OR = 0.39), had greater number of toilets (OR = 6.95), cultivated more variety of crops (OR = 2.61), had lower migration (OR = 0.59), higher number of girls continuing education (OR = 3.04) and better utilized modern healthcare facilities in the antenatal, natal and postnatal period (OR = 3.75, 2.57, 4.88 respectively). Thus, tribal people in IWMP-implemented villages reported advantages in many aspects of public health.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 44
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Pit latrines are the main form of sanitation in unplanned areas in many rapidly growing developing cities. Understanding demand for pit latrine fecal sludge management (FSM) services in these communities is important for designing demand-responsive sanitation services and policies to improve public health. We examine latrine emptying knowledge, attitudes, behavior, trends and rates of safe/unsafe emptying, and measure demand for a new hygienic latrine emptying service in unplanned communities in Dar Es Salaam (Dar), Tanzania, using data from a cross-sectional survey at 662 residential properties in 35 unplanned sub-wards across Dar, where 97% had pit latrines. A picture emerges of expensive and poor FSM service options for latrine owners, resulting in widespread fecal sludge exposure that is likely to increase unless addressed. Households delay emptying as long as possible, use full pits beyond what is safe, face high costs even for unhygienic emptying, and resort to unsafe practices like ‘flooding out’. We measured strong interest in and willingness to pay (WTP) for the new pit emptying service at 96% of residences; 57% were WTP ≥U.S. $17 to remove ≥200 L of sludge. Emerging policy recommendations for safe FSM in unplanned urban communities in Dar and elsewhere are discussed.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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  • 45
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: We hypothesized that weather and space weather conditions were associated with the exacerbation of essential hypertension. The study was conducted during 2009–2010 in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania. We analyzed 13,475 cards from emergency ambulance calls (EACs), in which the conditions for the emergency calls were made coded I.10–I.15. The Kaunas Weather Station provided daily records of air temperature (T), wind speed (WS), relative humidity, and barometric pressure (BP). We evaluated the associations between daily weather variables and daily number of EACs by applying a multivariate Poisson regression. Unfavorable heliophysical conditions (two days after the active-stormy geomagnetic field or the days with solar WS > 600 km/s) increased the daily number of elevated arterial blood pressure (EABP) by 12% (RR = 1.12; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04–1.21); and WS ≥ 3.5 knots during days of T 〈 1.5 °C and T ≥ 12.5 °C by 8% (RR = 1.08; CI 1.04–1.12). An increase of T by 10 °C and an elevation of BP two days after by 10 hPa were associated with a decrease in RR by 3%. An additional effect of T was detected during days of T ≥ 17.5 °C only in females. Women and patients with grade III arterial hypertension at the time of the ambulance call were more sensitive to weather conditions. These results may help in the understanding of the population’s sensitivity to different weather conditions.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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  • 46
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: The estrogen receptor protein (ER) can bind a vast number of organic pollutants widely spread in the environment and collectively known as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, EDCs. Its broad selectivity makes it an ideal bio-recognition element for the detection of EDCs. Here we describe the strategy and rationale for the design of ER based biosensors and assays that generate a signal in the presence of EDCs. The opportunity to use either natural or rationally modified ER molecules is discussed. The latter approach was successfully applied in the EU-FP7 project RADAR, with the aim to develop a novel biosensor for the detection of organic pollutants both in the environment and in commercial water products.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 47
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Background: Tobacco smoking is more prevalent among the elderly than among the young, and the elderly also have the most frequent contact with the health care system. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Gold Standard Program, which is an intensive six-week smoking cessation program, on continuous self-reported abstinence rates after six months, on participants over the age of 60 years in a real life setting. Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study from the national Danish smoking cessation database. Results: The database registered 7369 participants over the age of 60 years (range 60–82) and 24,294 below 60 years (range 15–59). Continuous abstinence rate after six months was 37% for the elderly compared to 35% for the younger (p 〈 0.05). The significant variables for continuous abstinence were: living with another adult (OR 1.10), prior professional recommendation for smoking cessation (OR 1.12), being compliant with program (OR 1.35) and being abstinent at end of course (OR 13.3). Conclusions: Participants over the age of 60 years had significantly higher continuous abstinence rates after six months than the participants less than 60 years. It is never too late for health professionals to recommend and educate patients about smoking cessation programs even if they are over 60 years of age.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
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    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 48
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Wireless Sensor Networks constitute pervasive and distributed computing systems and are potentially one of the most important technologies of this century. They have been specifically identified as a good candidate to become an integral part of the protection of critical infrastructures. In this paper we focus on railway infrastructure protection and we present the details of a sensor platform designed to be integrated into a slab track system in order to carry out both installation and maintenance monitoring activities. In the installation phase, the platform helps operators to install the slab tracks in the right position. In the maintenance phase, the platform collects information about the structural health and behavior of the infrastructure when a train travels along it and relays the readings to a base station. The base station uses trains as data mules to upload the information to the internet. The use of a train as a data mule is especially suitable for collecting information from remote or inaccessible places which do not have a direct connection to the internet and require less network infrastructure. The overall aim of the system is to deploy a permanent economically viable monitoring system to improve the safety of railway infrastructures.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 49
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: A wireless temperature sensor node composed of a piezoelectric wind energy harvester, a temperature sensor, a microcontroller, a power management circuit and a wireless transmitting module was developed. The wind-induced vibration energy harvester with a cuboid chamber of 62 mm × 19.6 mm × 10 mm converts ambient wind energy into electrical energy to power the sensor node. A TMP102 temperature sensor and the MSP430 microcontroller are used to measure the temperature. The power management module consists of LTC3588-1 and LT3009 units. The measured temperature is transmitted by the nRF24l01 transceiver. Experimental results show that the critical wind speed of the harvester was about 5.4 m/s and the output power of the harvester was about 1.59 mW for the electrical load of 20 kΩ at wind speed of 11.2 m/s, which was sufficient to power the wireless sensor node to measure and transmit the temperature every 13 s. When the wind speed increased from 6 m/s to 11.5 m/s, the self-powered wireless sensor node worked normally.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 50
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: High resource utilization in the residential sector, and the associated environmental impacts, are central issues in the growth of urban regions. Land-use urban planning is a primary instrument for the proper development of cities; an important point is the consideration of the urban form’s influence on resource utilization intensity. Emergy synthesis, an energy-based methodological approach that allows the quantification and integration of both natural and human-generated flows interacting in urban environments, was used to assess sustainability of the residential land use of seven boroughs on the Island of Montreal. Natural resources, food, water, acquired goods and services, electricity and fuels were the main flows considered in the analysis. Results suggest that income, household size and distance to downtown are the variables affecting resource utilization intensity more noticeably and that allocation of green area coverage is an important parameter for controlling land use intensity. With the procedure used for calculating resource use intensity in the seven boroughs, it is possible to generate a tool to support urban planning decision-making for assessing sustainable development scenarios. Future research should consider urban green space potential for accommodating local waste treatment systems, acting as a greenhouse gas emissions sink and promoting human health.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 51
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Climate change mitigation remains a contested political and policy issue nationally in Australia. Nevertheless, Australian cities have been actively engaging with low carbon policy for well over a decade and numerous actions and programs have resulted. A question arises as to whether such initiatives can amount to a transition; a systemic change from one dominant fossil-fuel based socio-technical regime, to another, fossil-free based socio-technical regime. In this paper, we review the critical literature on low carbon governance and socio-technical transitions and present a set of criteria by which we propose it is possible to assess the emergence of and/or progress towards low carbon urban transition. We then apply this approach to a case study. The paper presents findings from a review of low carbon initiatives in Australia with a particular focus on Melbourne, Victoria exploring the policy context in which these initiatives and responses have emerged, the typical approaches adopted and the implications for urban change and governance. We examine the roles of, and relationships between, different levels of government, climate change alliances, community/environmental organisations and other actors, and assess progress of the urban low carbon transition. In so doing, we identify significant shortcomings and policy disconnects which we argue are limiting progress towards a low carbon future in Victoria.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 52
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: In recent years, many cities have adopted action plans to become climate neutral in the coming decades. Hereby, a strong motivational factor has been the goal to realize a win-win situation in the long term: climate neutrality and sustainable functioning are not only beneficial for the environment, but are equally beneficial for society and for the economy if well-integrated trajectories are adopted. Nevertheless, as actors across the fields start to implement these plans, many practical obstacles have arisen. These barriers are typical of a systemic transition: dominant practices are characterized by path dependencies, vast institutional frameworks and vested interests that are hard to break through. At the same time, relevant initiatives typically show some elements of uncertainty and a long term return, factors that make it difficult to attract financial investments. The present article addresses the state of the art for current transition experiments in the region of Flanders, Belgium, focusing on actions related to energy and buildings in cities. A brief overview of the state of affairs in several cities and provinces is presented, and some important opportunities and bottlenecks are identified. The resultant findings are tested against the framework of transition theory and related literature on the subject. Subsequently, a set of possible strategies to overcome the above mentioned barriers is formulated. These strategies focus on effectively mobilizing actors and investments.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 53
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Environmental and social responsibilities have led many manufacturers to used products recovery. Meanwhile, many manufacturers nowadays sell products via indirect retailer channels and direct Internet channels. This paper models a dual-channel closed-loop supply chain to improve the sustainability of products. We apply the two-stage optimization technique and the Nash game to examine the impacts of the retail services and the degree of customer loyalty to the retail channel on the pricing of players in a centralized and a decentralized dual-channel supply chain. Our results show that the retail services have a great impact on the manufacturer and the retailer’s pricing strategies. We also compare the differences of pricing strategies between a centralized and a decentralized dual-channel supply chain and suggest the optimal retail services and pricing decisions for the players in the supply chain.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 54
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Haze pollution has worsened and has received close attention by news agencies in the past two years. This type of environmental pollution might have a great effect on tourism image and the entire tourism industry of a destination. This study aimed to reveal the potential impacts of haze pollution on the tourism industry. Based on a case study in Beijing using questionnaires for potential tourists, awareness of haze pollution, impacts of haze pollution on travel and attitudes toward the impacts were discussed. The results indicated that haze pollution has a considerable potential impact on travel, and there are distinct differences among travel elements and tourism market segments. Due to its impacts, haze pollution could be taken into account in tourists’ decision-making processes, causing a portion of potential tourists to cancel tourism plans. As a result, tourist arrivals to similar destinations could decrease by a small margin, but the most significant impact could be on the temporal distribution of tourist arrivals, namely tourism seasonality, due to tourists’ “avoiding” psychology.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 55
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: The Chinese government has introduced numerous policies and development plans to boost its shale gas industry in recent years. However, China’s shale gas exploration and development is still in the initial stage and has been confronted with many challenges. This paper systematically analyzes the current status of China’s shale gas industry from five aspects for the first time—resource situation, exploration and development status, policy and planning situation, technology status and international cooperation—then respectively elaborates on the different obstacles of shale gas development in the short run and the medium and long term. We argue that short-term barriers to the Chinese shale gas industry mainly include objective factors, such as geological and surface conditions, shale gas proven reserves, technology innovation and environmental concerns, while some man-made obstacles (except for water scarcity) may restrict shale gas development in the medium and long term. In order to better tackle the short-term challenges, this paper proposes policy recommendations from five perspectives: strengthening the investigation and evaluation of China’s shale gas resources; perfecting shale gas industry policy; establishing a national shale gas comprehensive experimental zone; enhancing scientific and technological research; and establishing a shale gas regulatory system with an emphasis on environmental protection and supervision.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 56
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Considering the explosive growth of data, the increased amount of text data’s effect on the performance of text categorization forward the need for higher requirements, such that the existing classification method cannot be satisfied. Based on the study of existing text classification technology and semantics, this paper puts forward a kind of Chinese text classification oriented SAW (Structural Auxiliary Word) algorithm. The algorithm uses the special space effect of Chinese text where words have an implied correlation between text information mining and text categorization for high-correlation matching. Experiments show that SAW classification algorithm on the premise of ensuring precision in classification, significantly improve the classification precision and recall, obviously improving the performance of information retrieval, and providing an effective means of data use in the era of big data information extraction.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 57
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: This paper describes the case study of applying projection-based augmented reality, especially for dynamic objects in live performing shows, such as plays, dancing, or musicals. Our study aims to project imagery correctly inside the silhouettes of flexible objects, in other words, live actors or the surface of actor’s costumes; the silhouette transforms its own shape frequently. To realize this work, we implemented a special projection system based on the real-time masking technique, that is to say real-time projection-based augmented reality system for dynamic objects in performing arts. We installed the sets on a stage for live performance, and rehearsed particular scenes of a musical. In live performance, using projection-based augmented reality technology enhances technical and theatrical aspects which were not possible with existing video projection techniques. The projected images on the surfaces of actor’s costume could not only express the particular scene of a performance more effectively, but also lead the audience to an extraordinary visual experience.
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-8994
    Topics: Mathematics , Physics
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  • 58
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Population growth and increasing resource demands in Ethiopia are stressing and degrading agricultural landscapes. Most Ethiopian soils are already exhausted by several decades of over exploitation and mismanagement. Since many agricultural sustainability issues are related to soil quality, its assessment is very important. We determined integrated soil quality indices (SQI) within the surface 0–15 cm depth increment for three agricultural land uses: rain fed cultivation (RF); agroforestry (AF) and irrigated crop production (IR). Each land use was replicated five times within a semi-arid watershed in eastern Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Using the framework suggested by Karlen and Stott (1994); four soil functions regarding soil’s ability to: (1) accommodate water entry (WE); (2) facilitate water movement and availability (WMA); (3) resist degradation (RD); and (4) supply nutrients for plant growth (PNS) were estimated for each land use. The result revealed that AF affected all soil quality functions positively more than the other land uses. Furthermore, the four soil quality functions were integrated into an overall SQI; and the values for the three land uses were in the order: 0.58 (AF) > 0.51 (IR) > 0.47 (RF). The dominant soil properties influencing the integrated SQI values were soil organic carbon (26.4%); water stable aggregation (20.0%); total porosity (16.0%); total nitrogen (11.2%); microbial biomass carbon (6.4%); and cation exchange capacity (6.4%). Collectively, those six indicators accounted for more than 80% of the overall SQI values.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 59
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: Discontinuous flows resulting from discrete natural rain events induce temporal and spatial variability in the transport of bacteria from organic waste through soils in which the degree of saturation varies. Transport and continuity of associated pathways are dependent on structure and stability of the soil under conditions of variable moisture and ionic strength of the soil solution. Lysimeters containing undisturbed monoliths of clay, clay loam or sandy loam soils were used to investigate transport and pathway continuity for bacteria and hydrophobic fluorescent microspheres. Biosolids, to which the microspheres were added, were surface applied and followed by serial irrigation events. Microspheres, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp., Salmonella spp. and Clostridium perfringens were enumerated in drainage collected from 64 distinct collection areas through funnels installed in a grid pattern at the lower boundary of the monoliths. Bacteria-dependent filtration coefficients along pathways of increasing water flux were independent of flow volume, suggesting: (1) tracer or colloid dependent retention; and (2) transport depended on the total volume of contiguous pores accessible for bacteria transport. Management decisions, in this case resulting from the form of organic waste, induced changes in tortuosity and continuity of pores and modified the effective capacity of soil to retain bacteria. Surface application of liquid municipal biosolids had a negative impact on transport pathway continuity, relative to the solid municipal biosolids, enhancing retention under less favourable electrostatic conditions consistent with an initial increase in straining within inactive pores and subsequent by limited re-suspension from reactivated pores.
    Electronic ISSN: 2073-4441
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 60
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: A new procedure is proposed for estimating actual basal crop coefficients from vegetation indices (Kcb VI) considering a density coefficient (Kd) and a crop coefficient for bare soil. Kd is computed using the fraction of ground cover by vegetation (fc VI), which is also estimated from vegetation indices derived from remote sensing. A combined approach for estimating actual crop coefficients from vegetation indices (Kc VI) is also proposed by integrating the Kcb VI with the soil evaporation coefficient (Ke) derived from the soil water balance model SIMDualKc. Results for maize, barley and an olive orchard have shown that the approaches for estimating both fc VI and Kcb VI compared well with results obtained using the SIMDualKc model after calibration with ground observation data. For the crops studied, the correlation coefficients relative to comparing the actual Kcb VI and Kc VI with actual Kcb and Kc obtained with SIMDualKc were larger than 0.73 and 0.71, respectively. The corresponding regression coefficients were close to 1.0. The methodology herein presented and discussed allowed for obtaining information for the whole crop season, including periods when vegetation cover is incomplete, as the initial and development stages. Results show that the proposed methods are adequate for supporting irrigation management.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
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  • 61
    Publication Date: 2015-02-28
    Description: India has experienced significant Land-Use and Land-Cover Change (LULCC) over the past few decades. In this context, careful observation and mapping of LULCC using satellite data of high to medium spatial resolution is crucial for understanding the long-term usage patterns of natural resources and facilitating sustainable management to plan, monitor and evaluate development. The present study utilizes the satellite images to generate national level LULC maps at decadal intervals for 1985, 1995 and 2005 using onscreen visual interpretation techniques with minimum mapping unit of 2.5 hectares. These maps follow the classification scheme of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) to ensure compatibility with other global/regional LULC datasets for comparison and integration. Our LULC maps with more than 90% overall accuracy highlight the changes prominent at regional level, i.e., loss of forest cover in central and northeast India, increase of cropland area in Western India, growth of peri-urban area, and relative increase in plantations. We also found spatial correlation between the cropping area and precipitation, which in turn confirms the monsoon dependent agriculture system in the country. On comparison with the existing global LULC products (GlobCover and MODIS), it can be concluded that our dataset has captured the maximum cumulative patch diversity frequency indicating the detailed representation that can be attributed to the on-screen visual interpretation technique. Comparisons with global LULC products (GlobCover and MODIS) show that our dataset captures maximum landscape diversity, which is partly attributable to the on-screen visual interpretation techniques. We advocate the utility of this database for national and regional studies on land dynamics and climate change research. The database would be updated to 2015 as a continuing effort of this study.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
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  • 62
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: This study used observation and interviews with participants in “PunCar Action” to understand how participatory design methods can be applied to the education of rural individuals in information and communication technology (ICT). PunCar Action is a volunteer program in which ICT educators tour the rural communities of Taiwan, offering courses on the use of digital technology. This paper makes three contributions: First, we found that participatory design is an excellent way to teach ICT and Web 2.0 skills, co-create community blogs, and sustain intrinsic motivation to use Web applications. Second, PunCar Action provides an innovative bottom-up intergenerational ICT education model with high penetrability capable of enhancing the confidence of rural residents in the use of ICT. Third, the content of basic courses was based on applications capable of making the lives of elderly individuals more convenient, and the advanced course was based on the co-creation of community blogs aimed at reviving the core functions of communities and expanding local industry. Our research was conducted with the use of a non-quantitative index to measure ICT learning performance of participants from a rural community. The results show that PunCar Action emphasizes interpersonal communication and informational applications and creates a collaborative process that encourages rural residents to take action to close the digital divide.
    Electronic ISSN: 1999-5903
    Topics: Computer Science
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  • 63
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: Seeking a sensitive protocol, culture-dependent methods were compared to detect thermophilic Campylobacter species in untreated urban effluents. We evaluated various combinations of selective media, with and without an enrichment steps, as well as an extra filtration step. Culture-independent real-time quantitative PCR was also included and all detected isolates underwent antimicrobial susceptibility testing. All tested water samples contained Campylobacter DNA, but only 64% were positive after culture. Although enrichment using Preston broth resulted in better recovery of potentially stressed Campylobacter than Bolton or Campyfood broth (CFB), there was no significant increase in efficiency compared to direct plating. The type of selective agar media used, on the other hand, had a significant effect, with CASA plates performing better than mCCDA or CFA ones. Inclusion of an enrichment step increased the ratio of C. coli vs. C. jejuni being isolated. Resistances against all antimicrobials tested were observed in C. coli, but fewer instances of resistance were found in C. jejuni isolates. Whether this difference was the result of selection during the enrichment step could not be determined. The presence of Campylobacter in urban effluents can be considered as a valuable proxy for Campylobacter populations present in urban environments.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 64
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: Smokers of all ages can benefit by quitting, but many smokers continue to smoke. Older Greek-Australian smokers, one of the largest ethnic groups in Australia, have higher rates of smoking than other groups of older Australians. This qualitative study aimed to explore older Greek-Australians’ views about socio-cultural influences on their smoking. A snowball sampling technique was used to identify twenty Greek–Australian smokers (12 males and eight females), aged ≥ 50 years. They were recruited through the Greek Orthodox Community Center of South Australia (GOCSA). Qualitative data were collected using semi-structured face-to-face interviews. The audio-taped interviews were translated and transcribed, and then analysed using content analysis. Results suggested that smoking was considered as the “norm” by older Greek-Australian smokers. There were four groups embedded in the participants’ social networks that were reported to be important in relation to either encouraging smoking or, smoking abstinence. These support groups included: family members, friends, the Greek community, and physicians. Smokers’ family members (brothers) and friends were identified as facilitators of smoking whereas non-smoker family members (children and spouses) were reported as providing barriers to smoking. Different approaches were used by supporter groups to assist smokers to quit smoking—both planned and unplanned. Knowledge, planning of social and cultural supports, and addressing barriers to smoking cessation are a important part of health planning for older Greek-Australians. Social norms, including those arising from social interactions, and predisposing traits can influence smoking behaviour. Addressing the specific barriers to smoking cessation of older Greek-Australians is critical to addressing the risk for chronic disease in this group.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 65
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: There has been increasing attention on the therapeutic effects of the forest environment. However, evidence-based research that clarifies the physiological effects of the forest environment on hypertensive individuals is lacking. This study provides scientific evidence suggesting that a brief forest walk affects autonomic nervous system activity in middle-aged hypertensive individuals. Twenty participants (58.0 ± 10.6 years) were instructed to walk predetermined courses in forest and urban environments (as control). Course length (17-min walk), walking speed, and energy expenditure were equal between the forest and urban environments to clarify the effects of each environment. Heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate were used to quantify physiological responses. The modified semantic differential method and Profile of Mood States were used to determine psychological responses. The natural logarithm of the high-frequency component of HRV was significantly higher and heart rate was significantly lower when participants walked in the forest than when they walked in the urban environment. The questionnaire results indicated that, compared with the urban environment, walking in the forest increased “comfortable”, “relaxed”, “natural” and “vigorous” feelings and decreased “tension-anxiety,” “depression,” “anxiety-hostility,” “fatigue” and “confusion”. A brief walk in the forest elicited physiological and psychological relaxation effects on middle-aged hypertensive individuals.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 66
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: In order to increase the operating speed of a CMOS image sensor (CIS), a new technique of digital correlated double sampling (CDS) is described. In general, the fixed pattern noise (FPN) of a CIS has been reduced with the subtraction algorithm between the reset signal and pixel signal. This is because a single-slope analog-to-digital converter (ADC) has been normally adopted in the conventional digital CDS with the reset ramp and signal ramp. Thus, the operating speed of a digital CDS is much slower than that of an analog CDS. In order to improve the operating speed, we propose a novel digital CDS based on a differential difference amplifier (DDA) that compares the reset signal and the pixel signal using only one ramp. The prototype CIS has been fabricated with 0.13 µm CIS technology and it has the VGA resolution of 640 × 480. The measured conversion time is 16 µs, and a high frame rate of 131 fps is achieved at the VGA resolution.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 67
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: A multitude of wireless sensor devices and technologies are being developed and deployed in cities all over the world. Sensor applications in city environments may include highly mobile installations that span large areas which necessitates sensor mobility support. This paper presents and validates two mechanisms for supporting sensor mobility between different administrative domains. Firstly, EAP-Swift, an Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP)-based sensor authentication protocol is proposed that enables light-weight sensor authentication and key generation. Secondly, a mechanism for handoffs between wireless sensor gateways is proposed. We validate both mechanisms in a real-life study that was conducted in a smart city environment with several fixed sensors and moving gateways. We conduct similar experiments in an industry-based anechoic Long Term Evolution (LTE) chamber with an ideal radio environment. Further, we validate our results collected from the smart city environment against the results produced under ideal conditions to establish best and real-life case scenarios. Our results clearly validate that our proposed mechanisms can facilitate efficient sensor authentication and handoffs while sensors are roaming in a smart city environment.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 68
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: Mechanical weeding is an important tool in organic farming. However, the use of mechanical weeding in conventional agriculture is increasing, due to public demands to lower the use of pesticides and an increased number of pesticide-resistant weeds. Ground nesting birds are highly susceptible to farming operations, like mechanical weeding, which may destroy the nests and reduce the survival of chicks and incubating females. This problem has limited focus within agricultural engineering. However, when the number of machines increases, destruction of nests will have an impact on various species. It is therefore necessary to explore and develop new technology in order to avoid these negative ethical consequences. This paper presents a vision-based approach to automated ground nest detection. The algorithm is based on the fusion of visual saliency, which mimics human attention, and incremental background modeling, which enables foreground detection with moving cameras. The algorithm achieves a good detection rate, as it detects 28 of 30 nests at an average distance of 3.8 m, with a true positive rate of 0.75.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 69
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: A key design challenge for successful wireless sensor network (WSN) deployment is a good balance between the collected data resolution and the overall energy consumption. In this paper, we present a WSN solution developed to efficiently satisfy the requirements for long-term monitoring of a historical building. The hardware of the sensor nodes and the network deployment are described and used to collect the data. To improve the network’s energy efficiency, we developed and compared two approaches, sharing similar sub-sampling strategies and data reconstruction assumptions: one is based on compressive sensing (CS) and the second is a custom data-driven latent variable-based statistical model (LV). Both approaches take advantage of the multivariate nature of the data collected by a heterogeneous sensor network and reduce the sampling frequency at sub-Nyquist levels. Our comparative analysis highlights the advantages and limitations: signal reconstruction performance is assessed jointly with network-level energy reduction. The performed experiments include detailed performance and energy measurements on the deployed network and explore how the different parameters can affect the overall data accuracy and the energy consumption. The results show how the CS approach achieves better reconstruction accuracy and overall efficiency, with the exception of cases with really aggressive sub-sampling policies.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 70
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: The paper presents a hybrid indoor positioning solution based on a pedestrian dead reckoning (PDR) approach using built-in sensors on a smartphone. To address the challenges of flexible and complex contexts of carrying a phone while walking, a robust step detection algorithm based on motion-awareness has been proposed. Given the fact that step length is influenced by different motion states, an adaptive step length estimation algorithm based on motion recognition is developed. Heading estimation is carried out by an attitude acquisition algorithm, which contains a two-phase filter to mitigate the distortion of magnetic anomalies. In order to estimate the heading for an unconstrained smartphone, principal component analysis (PCA) of acceleration is applied to determine the offset between the orientation of smartphone and the actual heading of a pedestrian. Moreover, a particle filter with vector graph assisted particle weighting is introduced to correct the deviation in step length and heading estimation. Extensive field tests, including four contexts of carrying a phone, have been conducted in an office building to verify the performance of the proposed algorithm. Test results show that the proposed algorithm can achieve sub-meter mean error in all contexts.
    Electronic ISSN: 1424-8220
    Topics: Chemistry and Pharmacology , Electrical Engineering, Measurement and Control Technology
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  • 71
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: The shale gas exploration and development is now a delicate and controversial subject. It is often assumed that unconventional exploration and extraction automatically brings prosperity for local, national and regional economies. In this paper, we argue that shale gas development requires a contextualized understanding of regional issues. We are also trying to identify the opportunities and the risks of shale gas development in Eastern Europe (referring to Romania’s case) and offer a cost-benefit analysis model that may be of interest to any policymakers and investors.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 72
    Publication Date: 2015-03-03
    Description: Sustainability assessments can play an important role in decision making. This role starts with selecting appropriate methods for a given situation. We observed that scientists, consultants, and decision-makers often do not systematically perform a problem analyses that guides the choice of the method, partly related to a lack of systematic, though sufficiently versatile approaches to do so. Therefore, we developed and propose a new step towards method selection on the basis of question articulation: the Sustainability Assessment Identification Key. The identification key was designed to lead its user through all important choices needed for comprehensive question articulation. Subsequently, methods that fit the resulting specific questions are suggested by the key. The key consists of five domains, of which three determine method selection and two the design or use of the method. Each domain consists of four or more criteria that need specification. For example in the domain “system boundaries”, amongst others, the spatial and temporal scales are specified. The key was tested (retrospectively) on a set of thirty case studies. Using the key appeared to contribute to improved: (i) transparency in the link between the question and method selection; (ii) consistency between questions asked and answers provided; and (iii) internal consistency in methodological design. There is latitude to develop the current initial key further, not only for selecting methods pertinent to a problem definition, but also as a principle for associated opportunities such as stakeholder identification.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 73
    Publication Date: 2015-03-04
    Description: A full-scale experimental program was used in this study to investigate the structural behavior of novel insulated concrete sandwich wall panels (SWPs) reinforced with grid-type glass-fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) shear connectors. Two kinds of insulation-expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) with 100 mm thickness were incased between the two concrete wythes to meet the increasing demand for the insulation performance of building envelope. One to four GFRP shear grids were used to examine the degree of composite action of the two concrete wythes. Ten specimens of SWPs were tested under displacement control subjected to four-point concentrated loads. The test results showed that the SWPs reinforced with GFRP grids as shear connectors developed a high degree of composite action resulting in high flexural strength. The specimens with EPS foam exhibited an enhanced load-displacement behavior compared with the specimens with XPS because of the relatively stronger bond between insulation and concrete. In addition, the ultimate strength of the test results was compared to the analytical prediction with the mechanical properties of only GRFP grids. The specimens with EPS insulation presented higher strength-based composite action than the ones with XPS insulation.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1944
    Topics: Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Production Engineering, Mining and Metallurgy, Traffic Engineering, Precision Mechanics
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  • 74
    Publication Date: 2015-03-04
    Description: In the megadiverse tropical mountain forest in the Andes of southern Ecuador, a global biodiversity hotspot, the use of fire to clear land for cattle ranching is leading to the invasion of an aggressive weed, the bracken fern, which is threatening diversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services. To find sustainable land use options adapted to the local situation, a profound knowledge of the long-term spatiotemporal patterns of land cover change and its drivers is necessary, but hitherto lacking. The complex topography and the high cloud frequency make the use of remote sensing in this area a challenge. To deal with these conditions, we pursued specific pre-processing steps before classifying five Landsat scenes from 1975 to 2001. Then, we quantified land cover changes and habitat fragmentation, and we investigated landscape changes in relation to key spatial elements (altitude, slope, and distance from roads). Good classification results were obtained with overall accuracies ranging from 94.5% to 98.5% and Kappa statistics between 0.75 and 0.98. Forest was strongly fragmented due to the rapid expansion of the arable frontier and the even more rapid invasion by bracken. Unexpectedly, more bracken-infested areas were converted to pastures than vice versa, a practice that could alleviate pressure on forests if promoted. Road proximity was the most important spatial element determining forest loss, while for bracken the altitudinal range conditioned the degree of invasion in deforested areas. The annual deforestation rate changed notably between periods: ~1.5% from 1975 to 1987, ~0.8% from 1987 to 2000, and finally a very high rate of ~7.5% between 2000 and 2001. We explained these inconstant rates through some specific interrelated local and national political and socioeconomic drivers, namely land use policies, credit and tenure incentives, demography, and in particular, a severe national economic and bank crisis.
    Electronic ISSN: 2072-4292
    Topics: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Surveying , Geography
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  • 75
    Publication Date: 2015-03-04
    Description: Companies that are listed on a stock exchange should know that reporting only financial measures is not enough for ensuring sustainable development. To be truly competitive, they should also include information about environmental policies and about the benefits that the company offers to its employees. The present research aims to provide information on how Romanian listed companies report environmental and social indicators and whether or not this has an impact on financial performance. We used a four time period panel fixed effect model for Romanian companies that are listed in the first category of the Bucharest Stock of Exchange. The results point out that increasing water, air and soil protection has a negative impact on current return on equity, while no effects were detected on return on assets and stock market returns. Other environmental variables such as gas, energy or sound were found not to be statistically significant. Training and benefits after retirement have a mixed effect on financial measures. The research correlates Romanian accounting regulation changes with companies’ characteristics and the influence of financial audit on financial performance, and concludes that increasing environmental and social protection could have an impact on financial performance in the long run, as positive correlation was detected between social or environmental performance and stock market returns one year after the changes occurred.
    Electronic ISSN: 2071-1050
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 76
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: The Li-ion battery is becoming the optimal choice for the Electric Vehicle’s (EV) power supply. In order to protect the Li-ion battery from charging damage and to prolong the battery’s life, a special control strategy based on the dynamic balanced point along with a non-dissipative equalizer is presented. The main focus of the proposed control strategy is to insure that the individual cell of a battery pack will be rapidly, efficiently and simultaneously balanced, by adjusting equalizing current of each cell dynamically. In this paper, a model of a four series connected Li-ion batteries pack has been established to evaluate the proposed control strategy. Superior performance is demonstrated by the simulation and experiment.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 77
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: The formation of biofilm-electrodes is crucial for microbial fuel cell current production because optimal performance is often associated with thick biofilms. However, the influence of the electrode structure and morphology on biofilm formation is only beginning to be investigated. This study provides insight on how changing the electrode morphology affects current production of a pure culture of anode-respiring bacteria. Specifically, an analysis of the effects of carbon fiber electrodes with drastically different morphologies on biofilm formation and anode respiration by a pure culture (Shewanella oneidensis MR-1) were examined. Results showed that carbon nanofiber mats had ~10 fold higher current than plain carbon microfiber paper and that the increase was not due to an increase in electrode surface area, conductivity, or the size of the constituent material. Cyclic voltammograms reveal that electron transfer from the carbon nanofiber mats was biofilm-based suggesting that decreasing the diameter of the constituent carbon material from a few microns to a few hundred nanometers is beneficial for electricity production solely because the electrode surface creates a more relevant mesh for biofilm formation by Shewanella oneidensis MR-1.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 78
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: The operation of household scale anaerobic digesters is typically based on diluted animal dung, requiring stabled livestock and adequate water availability. This excludes many rural households in low-income countries from the benefits of a domestic biogas digester. Solid state anaerobic digestion (SSAD) can be operated with low process water demands, but the technology involves operational challenges, as e.g., risk of process acidification or low degradation rates. This study aimed at developing simple methods to perform SSAD of yam peelings in low-tech applications by testing different inoculation strategies and evaluating the necessity of dung addition as a supportive biomass. In initial lab scale trials 143 ± 4 mL CH4/g VS (volatile solids) were obtained from a mixture of yam peelings and dung digested in a multi-layer-inoculated batch reactor. In a consecutive incubation cycle in which adapted inoculum was applied, bottom inoculated digesters loaded without dung reached a yield of 140 ± 16 mL CH4/g VS. This indicates that SSAD of yam peelings is possible with simple inoculation methods and dung addition is unnecessary after microbial adaptation. A comparison with a conventional fixed dome digester indicated that SSAD can reduce process water demand and the digester volume necessary to supply a given biogas demand.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 79
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: This paper presents a microgrid stability controller (MSC) in order to provide existing distributed generation units (DGs) the additional functionality of working in islanding mode without changing their control strategies in grid-connected mode and to enhance the stability of the microgrid. Microgrid operating characteristics and mathematical models of the MSC indicate that the system is inherently nonlinear and time-variable. Therefore, this paper proposes an adaptive robust total sliding-mode control (ARTSMC) system for the MSC. It is proved that the ARTSMC system is insensitive to parametric uncertainties and external disturbances. The MSC provides fast dynamic response and robustness to the microgrid. When the system is operating in grid-connected mode, it is able to improve the controllability of the exchanged power between the microgrid and the utility grid, while smoothing the DGs’ output power. When the microgrid is operating in islanded mode, it provides voltage and frequency support, while guaranteeing seamless transition between the two operation modes. Simulation and experimental results show the effectiveness of the proposed approach.
    Electronic ISSN: 1996-1073
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
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  • 80
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: Environmental mycobacteria (EM) constitute a health risk, particularly for immunocompromised people. Workers in heavy industry and in collieries represent an at-risk group of people as their immunity is often weakened by long-term employment in dusty environments, frequent smoking and an increased occurrence of pulmonary diseases. This study was concerned with the presence of EM in non-drinking water used for the hygiene of employees in six large industrial companies and collieries. Over a period of ten years, 1096 samples of surface water treated for hygiene purposes (treated surface water) and treated surface water diluted with mining water were examined. EM were detected in 63.4 and 41.5% samples of treated surface water and treated surface water diluted with mining water, respectively. Mycobacterium gordonae, M. avium-intracellulare and M. kansasii were the most frequently detected species. Adoption of suitable precautions should be enforced to reduce the incidence of mycobacteria in shower water and to decrease the infectious pressure on employees belonging to an at-risk group of people.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
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  • 81
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: Air pollution is an important environmental factor associated with health impacts in Europe and considerable resources are used to reduce exposure to air pollution through emission reductions. These reductions will have non-linear effects on exposure due, e.g., to interactions between climate and atmospheric chemistry. By using an integrated assessment model, we quantify the effect of changes in climate, emissions and population demography on exposure and health impacts in Europe. The sensitivity to the changes is assessed by investigating the differences between the decades 2000–2009, 2050–2059 and 2080–2089. We focus on the number of premature deaths related to atmospheric ozone, Secondary Inorganic Aerosols and primary PM. For the Nordic region we furthermore include a projection on how population exposure might develop due to changes in building stock with increased energy efficiency. Reductions in emissions cause a large significant decrease in mortality, while climate effects on chemistry and emissions only affects premature mortality by a few percent. Changes in population demography lead to a larger relative increase in chronic mortality than the relative increase in population. Finally, the projected changes in building stock and infiltration rates in the Nordic indicate that this factor may be very important for assessments of population exposure in the future.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 82
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of cadmium exposure on Staphylococcus epidermidis (ATCC 35984) biofilm formation. Bacteria were cultured in the absence or presence of different concentrations (0–50 µM) of cadmium. Biofilm formation and bacterial viability were assessed. Quantitative Real Time-PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to determine the mRNA expression of molecular markers of S. epidermidis biofilm formation and dispersion. S. epidermidis biofilm formation was stimulated (p 〈 0.001) by 1.56 and 3.13 µM cadmium. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) analysis confirmed an increase in biofilm thickness (23 and 22 µm, versus 17.8 µm in the controls) after exposure to 1.56 or 3.13 µM cadmium, respectively. qRT-PCR was performed showing the up-regulation of atlE, embp, aap, icaA and icaB after exposure to 3.13 µM cadmium. Taken together, these findings show that cadmium at low, sub-toxic concentrations acts as inducer of S. epidermidis biofilm formation.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601
    Topics: Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering , Medicine
    Published by MDPI Publishing
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  • 83
    Publication Date: 2015-03-05
    Description: Hypertension affects populations globally and is thus a public health and socio-economic problem. Macronutrient and micronutrient deficiencies are common in the general population, and may be even more prevalent in hypertensive patients. This study aimed to determine a possible association between hypertension and intake of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E. Participants were from the cross-sectional Hortega nutrition study conducted with a random sample of 1514 people (50.3% women, 49.7% men) and two groups: nonhypertensive controls ≥40 years old (n = 429; 28.3%); unknown untreated hypertension cases ≥40 years old (n = 246; 16.2%). Biochemical and anthropometric measurements were taken. Data on dietary intakes, education, socio-economic status, place of residence, health habits, comorbidities, alcohol consumption and smoking were collected and assessed. A descriptive data study was done and compared by ANOVA and Chi-Square. No p value higher than 0.05 was considered significant. The results showed that vitamin A intake was higher in the hypertensive subpopulation (1732.77 ± 962.27 µg vs. 1655.89 ± 902.81 µg), and vitamin D and E intakes were lower (8.13 ± 9.71 µg vs. 8.25 ± 9.52 µg and 18.79 ± 7.84 mg vs. 18.60 ± 8.20 mg, respectively). No statistically significant differences were found in any adjusted model. This study did not significantly associate intake of vitamins A, D and E with hypertension in people aged over 40. Future studies on this topic and a larger sample are necessary.
    Print ISSN: 1661-7827
    Electronic ISSN: 1660-4601