A Study of New Hampshire Ecosystems and Society uses fDOM to Monitor Water Quality

Water quality monitoring station

Water quality data logged in forested watershed

A network of aquatic monitors in New Hampshire tracks the complex interaction between how land is being used and climate over time—creating opportunities to address upcoming challenges to the ecosystem.

 

NH EPSCoR (funded by the National Science Foundation and partnered with more than seven NH academic institutions) is using 10 EXO2 sondes from YSI (a Xylem brand) in a network that evaluates the effect of land-use on ecosystem function across the state of New Hampshire. The EXO instruments are deployed in headwater streams and mainstem rivers in urban, agricultural and forested areas. The sensors provide fDOM, Turbidity, Conductivity, Temperature, pH and Dissolved Oxygen data with high temporal resolution (every 15 minutes), aiding researchers and policy makers in assessing the impact of human activities on water quality.

 

“EPSCoR was planning to purchase 10 sondes from a different manufacturer, plus 10 separate fDOM probes and 10 wiping systems from other manufacturers for its new monitoring program. These components would have had to been wired into a datalogger individually, greatly increasing the complexity of the project,” says Tim Finegan, Director of Environmental Monitoring at YSI.

 

“Instead, they ultimately selected YSI as a single-source provider because of EXO’s ability to collect all the same parameters on a single platform with an integrated wiping solution. This solution has greatly simplified the complexity of the monitoring network and the monitoring team.,” continues Finegan.

 

“The overall goal of our distributed sensor network is to provide an integrated assessment of how land use, ecosystem services, climate change, and climate variability affect water quality at multiple scales (hill slope to river drainage network to state of NH). fDOM is a key component of understanding the ecological and biogeochemical processes across scales and how they relate to changes in land use and climate. The dissolved organic matter (DOM) in forested and urban areas is likely from decaying leaf matter and in-stream microbial activity, but in urban areas there will also be DOM from anthropogenic sources. We are comparing the data sets from the range of sites. Also, we relate DOM to turbidity, since it is an excellent indicator of total inputs,” explains Jody Potter, Analytical Instrumentation Scientist, Dept. of Natural Resources & the Environment at the University of New Hampshire.

 

The water quality monitoring network is part of a larger research effort statewide combined with soil sensors, aerial remote sensing, volunteer groups, and laboratory analysis. The research is increasing knowledge and awareness about how decisions in land use and changes in climate affect ecosystems in New Hampshire. Data from these sensors will enable researchers to understand the impact of human activities on hydrology and water quality. This analysis will allow for better understanding of the historical effects of climate, land use, and demographic changes; an examination of the potential impacts on ecosystem function of future scenarios of change; and to provide data to policy makers to enable better decision-making.

 

Support for the NH EPSCoR Program is provided by the NSF Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program Research Infrastructure Improvement Award # EPS 1101245.

 

A Closer Look at fDOM Measurement: Listen to webinar examining fDOM measurements in surface water using YSI’s newest smart sensor.

 

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