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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Research Project #431172

Research Project: Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) 2016 - Agricultural Research Service Benchmark Watershed

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-13610-029-01-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: May 15, 2016
End Date: Sep 30, 2017

The Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory (HRSL) plans to develop improved monitoring technologies and new adaptive management tools for quantifying the water quality impacts of cover crops as well as the impact of constructed and natural wetland contributions within the Choptank, as part of the overall Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) objectives. In FY14, HRSL continued monitoring of the two, in situ optical sensors that provide nitrate and dissolved organic carbon at both, the Greensboro and Tuckahoe sub-watershed at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauge stations. These sensors will provide detailed flux measurements of dissolved carbon and nutrients from two sub-basins within the Choptank River Watershed. The Choptank River, above the tidal line, is also fed by two major tributaries, the Tuckahoe to the west and the Upper Choptank to the east, providing two adjacent sub-watersheds within the larger Choptank Watershed. Although both of these sub-watersheds are similar in size, monitoring data have shown different behavior in terms of nutrient export patterns. In 2015, HRSL will extend the application of the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model to each of the above two sub-watersheds. The aim of this investigation is to compare model simulation results with respect to pollution load amounts and patterns at these two sub-watersheds. It is expected that the current model simulations will establish a baseline of nutrient load reduction effectiveness that will be compared to an extensive and long-term USGS monitoring station and the installed in situ nutrient sensors at the outlet of both the Tuckahoe and the Greensboro sub-basins.

HRSL will continue calibration of satellite data for winter cover crop performance evaluation. HRSL will also maintain and collect data from the in situ nitrate sensors at the Tuckahoe and Greensboro gauge stations and evaluate calibration stability with implementation of conductivity measurements in conjunction with the optical measurements to assess correlations between data sources. HRSL will assess the utility of the stream water carbon data for assessing wetland connectivity to streams and improve wetland modeling effort under Wetlands CEAP. HRSL will expand SWAT modeling effort to cover paired sub-basins with initial focus on the assessment of winter cover crop influence on water quality. HRSL will continue to develop a dual tracer approach to assess agricultural and urban sources of nutrients to the Choptank River estuary. HRSL will continue our contributions Sustaining the Earth's Watersheds (STEWARDS) from Choptank River watershed data collected through calendar year 2017.