New Tools for Old Problems

New Tools for Old Problems

NT4OP poster

The New Tools for Old Problems (NT4OP) series is designed to bring together developers of cutting-edge observational and analytical capabilities and Earth and climate researchers to identify new applications.

Each episode consists of a brief (~20 minute) overview presentation by the expert or team of experts, followed by an open discussion and Q&A session to explore potential new applications of their “tools” to Earth and climate research.

Registration is required to attend the live events, which are recorded and open to all.


Episode 1: Remote Sensing of Water with the ElectroScience Laboratory

Experts: Joel Johnson & Andrew O’Brien

April 5, 2021, 11:30am

Experts from OSU’s ElectroScience Laboratory (ESL) present their pioneering work using ultra-wideband radar and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) reflectometry to measure a wide range of hydrological properties from air and space, including freshwater inundation and flooding, soil moisture, permafrost active layer thickness, as well as ice sheet temperature, snow and sea ice thickness and ocean altimetry.

Episode 2: More Remote Sensing of Water

Experts: Mike Durand & Yuanyuan Jia

April 19, 2021, 11:30am

Professor Durand and Research Scientist Jia from the School of Earth Sciences and the Byrd Center present a range of measurement capabilities for measuring terrestrial hydrology, snow and ocean properties. These methods include both active and passive microwave remote sensing, gravimetry, visible and infrared imagery, with potential applications in agriculture, drought, floods, and water management.

Episode 3: Environmental Surveying with Drones

Expert: Bryan Mark

May 3, 2021, 11:30am

Professor Bryan Mark from the Department of Geography and the Byrd Center, is faculty adviser of the Center’s student-led “Mountain Drone Team”, which has developed and applied drones to surveying a range of hydrological, ecological and geological properties in high-altitude watersheds. He and his team will present on the surveying capabilities of drones and methods for analyzing and fusing drone-based measurements.

Episode 4: Deep Learning in Earth and Climate Science from Satellite Imagery

Expert: Joachim Moortgat

May 17, 2021, 11:30am


Recent advances in satellite observational capabilities and computational power are greatly expanding our ability to monitor the Earth's changing surface. Machine Learning algorithms,  first developed for medical imaging, can be trained to automatically detect any feature of interest at the pixel-level, down to sub-meter resolutions and repeated over time. Obvious features of interest are roads, human infrastructure, rivers and other water bodies; but applications abound across disciplines: agricultural land use, energy resources, forestry/deforestation/wildfires, rock outcrops, glaciers and landslides, faulting, contaminant spills, tracking large (herds of) animals, etc. Professor Joachim Moortgat from the School of Earth Sciences develops and applies new deep learning algorithms that are optimized for vast collections of satellite imagery to tackle such problems in collaboration with a broad range of domain experts. He provides an overview of Earth and Climate science applications and capabilities, but also discuss the significant challenges associated with supervised deep learning.

Episode 5: Applications of Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for Environmental Problems

Experts: John Olesik & Paolo Gabrielli

June 2, 2021, 11:30am


Ohio State boasts state-of-the art facilities and world-leading expertise in Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), one of the most versatile tools for elemental quantification, and with possible applications over a broad range of Earth, environmental and health sciences. John Olesik, leader of OSU's Trace Element Research Laboratory in the School of Earth Sciences, presents the capabilities of single particle ICP-MS, which allows measurement of individual nanoparticles and microparticles, ICP-collision/reaction cell MS, which improves measurement of ultra-trace elements, and laser ablation ICP-MS, which allows spot analysis or elemental mapping of solid samples including thin sections. Paolo Gabrielli, a researcher in the Byrd Center's Ice Core Paleoclimatology Group, presents techniques for conducting ultra-trace element analysis in aqueous samples down to the sub-femtogram per gram level, and direct determination of ultra-low Rare Earth Elements concentrations in water matrices.

Episode 6: Analysis of Earth fluids and gases for Understanding Geological, Hydrologic, Ecological and Biogeochemical Processes

Experts: Berry Lyons & Tom Darrah

June 14, 2021, 11:30am


Analysis of Earth's fluids and gases are essential for understanding the processes controlling geochemical cycles, water quality and ecological changes, and subsurfaces resources. Berry Lyons presents his laboratory capabilities in measuring nutrient, ionic, and isotopic composition in aquatic ecosystems for determination of water chemistries and quality. Tom Darrah presents his laboratory capabilities for providing comprehensive molecular and stable isotopic composition of gas fluxes, sources, biodegradation, and formation in deep earth, crust, and critical zone, as well as Noble Gases analyses for source, fate, migration, and residence time of fluids, including water, CO2, CH4, and natural hydrogen, in the subsurface.