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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory » Research » Research Project #432616

Research Project: Integrating Field Experiments, Remote Sensing, and Modeling toward Improved Understanding and Quantification of Watershed Scale Carbon Cycling

Location: Hydrology and Remote Sensing Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-66000-002-001-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Apr 15, 2017
End Date: Apr 14, 2021

Accurate quantification of carbon (C) cycling in the Earth system is crucial for the development of science-based decision tools and management strategies aimed at combating and adapting to climate change. Soil organic carbon may be source or sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) depending on soil management practices. Regional-scale models have been developed for carbon monitoring. However, soil tillage decisions that significantly affect carbon fluxes are made by farmers at field or smaller scales. No systematic assessments of soil tillage intensity at field scales are available for croplands in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The proposed research is expected to yield a novel analytic tool that will allow researchers and policy makers to assess consequences of land based C management decisions for C stocks/fluxes at the watershed scale (including C in both terrestrial and downstream aquatic ecosystems), instead of limited to upland ecosystem C budgets, thereby providing more credible assessment of unintended consequences and related uncertainties of land-based C management strategies and decisions.

ARS will (1) focus on the Choptank River watershed in Maryland with its extensive database and scale up to the Delmarva Peninsula (2) improve methods for modeling watershed carbon dynamics using process based watershed models; 3) improve model output by assimilation of remotely sensed data from various satellites (Landsat, Sentinel 1 and 2, MODIS) as well as intensive ground based observations. Cooperators will (1) assemble databases (weather, soils, elevation, etc) required by the agroecosystem models for Delmarva, and (2) incorporate data from satellite observations to improve watershed scale model output quantifying carbon dynamics in agricultural landscapes. ARS and Cooperators will jointly evaluate alternative management scenarios for specific fields, for the Choptank River watershed, and for the Delmarva Peninsula.