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News Release

February 11, 2014
Ethan Alpern 703-648-4406
Donna Myers 703-648-5012

Technical Announcement:
Learn About Laser Spectrometry Online for Free

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The USGS and the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) have teamed up to teach six online workshops open to public discussing Laser Specs for Field Hydrology and Biogeochemistry: Lessons Learned and Future Prospects.

The goal of this video workshop series is two-fold:

  1. To exchange technical information on application of laser spectrometry, both in field deployment and for analyzing field samples in the lab, and to compare performance with isotope-ratio mass spectrometry, the laboratory standard.
  2. To highlight research that makes use of this relatively recent and novel technology, both for understanding basic hydrologic processes, and as part of multi-tracer projects that allow new insights into hydrologic and geochemical systems.

Laser spectrometry enables new insights in environmental sciences for many problem-solving applications in hydrology, the science behind our understanding of water resources. Laser spectrometry enables measurements of the relative ratios of the stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen, found in all water, by determining absorption of water vapor of selected wavelengths of light reflected ten thousand times between mirrors in the spectrometer laser.

“With a commitment to both the advancement of water-quality science and education, this partnership with CUAHSI to promote these new breakthroughs in Laser Spectrometry is very exciting,” said Donna Myers, Chief of the USGS Office of Water Quality.

Participants are able to view the workshops live and participate by asking questions and posting comments on the discussion boards. By being a virtual workshop held online, national and international experts are able to provide their insights to participants on this new technology and its applications without traveling to a meeting. Each session of the series will be recorded and posted online after the event for those who cannot attend live or would like to watch them again.

"These visual workshops provide a no-cost, informative, and exciting opportunity for anyone interested to learn about hydrological science and technology from anywhere at their convenience," said Dr. Richard P. Hooper, Executive Director & President of CUAHSI, and former National Coordinator of the National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN) in the USGS Office of Water Quality from 1998-2003.

Education technology, specifically within higher education, is moving in the direction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which is the newest innovation in distance learning, allowing students from all over the world to enroll in the courses.

This is the third such workshop jointly organized by USGS and CUAHSI, and the first to be held on-line. Past workshops have similarly focused on bringing new technologies to the forefront of water monitoring and research. CUAHSI is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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