Related Research Areas
Carbon Cycle & Ecosystems, Water & Energy Cycles

The transport of dissolved and particulate organic matter (DOM/POM) from terrestrial systems to the coastal ocean represents a globally significant flux of carbon and an important biogeochemical linkage between landscapes and the nearshore environment. Carbon export from watersheds is a complex process involving vegetation, soil processes, hydrologic exchange with wetlands, hydrological discharge, and in situ production and processing of allochthonous and autochthonous carbon in terrestrial, wetland, river, and estuarine ecosystems. Changes in these factors will likely be profound in the next few decades with projected shifts in temperature, precipitation, seasonality of precipitation, and land use. Altered carbon export will affect the physical and ecological structure and function of nearshore coastal environments, with implications for harmful algal blooms (HABs), commercial fisheries, and local economies. Our proposed project will be one of the first studies to use remote sensing in both the terrestrial and marine environments to assess the flux and processing of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nutrients from watersheds to the coastal ocean for three major river systems (Androscoggin/Kennebec, Penobscot, St. John) draining into the Gulf of Maine. We address three specific objectives: (1) Understand modern linkages across the terrestrial-river-estuary-ocean biogeochemical system: We will integrate (a) land cover mapping with remote sensing to (b) ecological models of C/nutrient fluxes from different land cover types, (c) hydrological process models of discharge, (d) direct molecular characterizations of DOM, optical properties, stoichiometry, and 14C/13C from soils, tributaries, main stems, and estuaries to analyze sources and transformations of DOM, (e) in situ measurements of DOC proxies to better characterize DOM fluxes and transformations along this terrestrial to marine gradient, and (f) remote sensing of marine surface waters to measure DOC plumes and how they interact physically and biogeochemically with coastal currents. (2) Develop historical baselines of climate and land use change on DOC and nutrient export: We will use remote sensing and land use records to understand land use changes over the past 30-100 years. These, combined with historical discharge and snowpack data, will then be used with the empirical models developed in the modern system (1) to establish a historical baseline for DOC export. (3) Make future projections of climate and land use change on DOC and nutrient export: We will use the empirical and process models from 1 and 2, combined with scenarios of future land use change and precipitation/discharge models, to predict how hydrology and C export is likely to change with land use and climate change relative to baseline, which will be critical for river and coastal community adaptation. Our research is a collaborative, highly interdisciplinary project with scientists from diverse backgrounds: terrestrial remote sensing and GIS (French, Bourgeau-Chavez, Powell, Billmire, Leblon, LaRocque); terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic biogeochemistry (Camill, Lichter, Raymond); hydrology and terrestrial climate change modeling (Huntington); radio and stable carbon isotope analysis (Raymond); analytical chemistry (Stemmler); and ocean remote sensing, in situ observing, and biological oceanography (Roesler). This proposed work accomplishes all goals of NASA-IDS 2.2 Subelement 2: Impacts of Varying or Changing Climate, Local Weather, and Land Use on Watersheds and their Connected Coastal Environments, which seeks “proposals that combine the following three components: (1) satellite observations, (2) ecological models, and (3) hydrological models to explore the connectivity of upland and coastal marine ecosystems in order to determine how climate variability and change, weather phenomena, and/or patterns of human land use are carried through a watershed from its upper reaches to the continental shelf.”

Project PI: Philip Camill/Bowdoin College

Phone: (207) 721-5149



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Started: Sep 29, 2010

Last Activity: Jan 04, 2011


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