2011 Maine Water Conference
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Models and Monitoring: Current research in freshwater science and management
Chair: Melinda Neville, Dept. of Ecology and Environmental Sciences and Dept. of Spatial Information Engineering, University of Maine
Melinda Neville is a research assistant in the Department of Spatial Information Science and Engineering at the University of Maine. She earned her B.S. degree in Environmental Science from Southwest State University in Minnesota, and an M.S. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences with a water resources concentration at the University of Maine. Recently a fellow of the NSF IGERT Sensor Science Engineering and Informatics program, Melinda has worked on such diverse projects as sensor system design and deployment in a commercial greenhouse, the Maine Cancer GIS program, and the development of a biosensor for the detection of Hg in estuarine systems. Her current work is focused on spatiotemporal monitoring of mercury fate and transport in coastal Maine ecosystems.
Description: Emerging threats continue to challenge freshwater hydrology, chemistry, and biotic integrity. Many factors play a role in our understanding of these processes, but because they are often heterogeneous and affected by stochastic events, these environmental interactions are challenging to model. With their focus on modeling and monitoring changes in climate, hydrology, biodiversity, and water quality, the talks in this session describe scientific data, models, and interpretation that characterize current threats to water resources.
Impervious Surface and Temperature Thresholds for Stream Biota
Tom Danielson, Leon Tsomides, Doug Suitor
Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Augusta, ME
Increased water temperature can impact aquatic life by reducing oxygen concentrations and altering organism metabolism, growth, and community structure. Temperature is a growing concern for water quality managers because some of Maine’s streams and rivers are likely to get warmer with expanding urbanization and global warming. We collected biological samples and temperature data using continuous data loggers deployed in streams for four weeks during the summer. We empirically identified algal and macroinvertebrate taxa that could be used as indicators of cold water and warm water using weighted average optima and indicator species analysis. We identified strong shifts in community structure between 18 and 22⁰C with the loss of cold water taxa and increase of warm water taxa. We also applied ordination techniques to determine the importance of stream temperature, relative to other environmental stressors, in shaping algal and macroinvertebrate communities. These tools will help track streams over time and improve management of streams and rivers to mitigate impacts of increased water temperature.
Understanding the Interactive Effects of Climate Change and Air Pollution on Lake Ecosystems: Implications for Declining Water Clarity in Acadia National Park
Kristin E. Strock¹ (student), Jasmine E. Saros¹, Bill Gawley² and Alan Ellsworth³
1 School of Biology and Ecology and Climate Change Institute, University of Maine Orono, ME
2 Acadia National Park, Maine
3 USGS Water Science Center, Troy, NY
Striking changes in the transparency of inland waters have been observed recently in many regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Water clarity is the most highly valued aesthetic aspect of lakes and has significant ecological effects, altering the productivity and diversity of lake ecosystems. We analyzed secchi disk, chlorophyll a, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and nutrient data for a set of lakes in Acadia National Park. These data, which were collected monthly by Acadia staff since 1985, were paired with paleolimnological techniques to provide a longer term study of water clarity. Synthesis of monitoring data revealed synchronous declines in water clarity across multiple lakes while algal biomass was unchanged. Concentrations of DOC (which can impart a brown stain to lake waters) increased while water clarity declined. Paleolimnological inferences within Acadia reveal little to no lake acidification over the last century, however monitoring data since 1985 suggest regional changes in watersheds. The observed changes in water clarity may be driven by the interactive effects of climate change and air pollution, specifically increased storm severity coupled with reduced sulfur deposition, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Lake water clarity is declining across multiple systems in Acadia, underscoring the need to understand the response of these systems to a changing climate in order to better inform management decisions that protect these valuable resources.
Modeling and Mapping Hydrological Risks
Jae Ogilvie, Mark Casonguay, Paul A. Arp
Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick
This presentation informs and illustrates how potential hydrological risks (flooding and slope instabilities) can be modelled and mapped across Maine (mainland, coastlands, islands), using (i) state-wide digital elevation data and images, (ii) local LiDAR-derived digital elevation models (DEMs). This modelling and mapping applies conventional algorithms used for deriving slope, flow direction and accumulation into map features displaying (i) flow channels, (ii) flood plains, (iii) the cartographic depth-to-water next to all flow channels, shorelines and wetland borders, and (iv) the extent to which coastal lands are subject to sea-level rise. Additional algorithms are used to (i) locate road and stream crossings, (ii) draw catchment borders based on catchment order or stream order, and (iii) display and classify the recharge-discharge zonation across the land. The maps so derived provide a local to state-wide medium to high-resolution platforms for planning land and water resources, from state-, municipal, industrial, and private perspectives, as illustrated. The illustrations show how this GIS-based modelling process works, with examples for Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and how this process is used to derive and decide on least-risk road, trail and development locations. The initiative for this modelling and mapping is based on the earlier wet-area mapping initiative at University of New Brunswick, done in co-operation with Maine’s Cooperative Forest Research Unit (CFRU).
Prioritizing Critical Lands for Healthy River Function in the Penobscot River Watershed
Colin Apse¹, Joshua Royte¹, Daniel Kusnierz², Binke Wang²
1 The Nature Conservancy
2 Penobscot Indian Nation
The Active River Area framework provides a conceptual and spatially explicit basis for the assessment, protection, management, and restoration of freshwater and riparian ecosystems. The Active River Area framework uses river process and disturbance concepts to identify areas within which important physical and ecological processes of the river or stream occur. The Nature Conservancy and the Penobscot Indian Nation worked with other NGO, state and federal partners to develop a prototype model that prioritizes the lands most critical to maintaining our most significant fish and wildlife habitats in four Penobscot subwatersheds.