National Research Program (NRP)

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The USGS National Research Program (NRP), part of the USGS Water Mission Area, conducts research to develop and disseminate science-based information and tools needed for a fundamental understanding of the processes that affect the availability, movement, and quality of the Nation’s water resources. Our science supports a wide range of policies and activities, including:

Science Topics

  • Transport Phenomena in Fractured Rock

    Transport Phenomena in Fractured Rock: Allen Shapiro studies the complex environment of fractured rock aquifers in order to characterize water supplies and understand the fate and transport of groundwater contaminants. Areas that benefit from his research include groundwater remediation, as well as the design of roads, tunnels, dams, and other engineered structures.

  • Environmental Tracers of Surface-Water/Ground-Water Exchanges

    Environmental Tracers of Surface-Water/Ground-Water Exchanges: James Constantz is the leading authority on the use of heat as a tracer to understand and quantify surface-water exchanges with groundwater, as well as a leading authority regarding the influence of temperature on hydrologic processes, including infiltration, evaporation and drainage.

  • Stable Isotope Tracing of Metals in Aquatic Ecosystems

    Stable Isotope Tracing of Metals in Aquatic Ecosystems: Marie Croteau studies the linkages between contaminant bioavailability and toxicity in aquatic organisms exposed to metals, including colloidal metals and engineered nanoparticles. This is a SEM image of benthic diatoms (Nitzschia palea) and zinc oxide nanoparticles.

  • Hydroecology of Flowing Waters

    Hydroecology of Flowing Waters: Jud Harvey is shown sampling the Six-Mile Brook streambed for mercury contamination in Adirondack State Park, New York.

  • Stable Isotope Fractionation in Hydrologic Processes

    Stable Isotope Fractionation in Hydrologic Processes : T. B. Coplen prepares gas samples on a glass high vacuum line in the Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory. In this laboratory, samples are analyzed for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur isotopic composition for biological, hydrological, environmental, and forensic science applications.

Recent NRP Publications

Nilsen, E.B., Rosenbauer, R.J., Fuller, C.C.,  Jaffe, B.J., 2015. Sedimentary organic biomarkers suggest detrimental effects of PAHs on estuarine microbial biomass during the 20th century in San Francisco Bay, CA, USA.  Chemosphere v. 119, p. 961-970 (doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.08.053)

Lucas, L.V. Age. Encyclopedia of Estuaries. Springer (in revision for resubmission).

Lucas, L.V. Residence time. Encyclopedia of Estuaries. Springer (in revision for resubmission).

Lucas, L.V. Time scales. Encyclopedia of Estuaries. Springer (in revision for resubmission).

Nelson, J.M., McDonald, R.R., Kinzel, P.J., and Legleiter, C.J., in press, Using computational models to improve remotely sensed estimates of river bathymetry, J. Sediment Research.

Nelson, J.M., McDonald, R.R., Shimizu, Y., Kimura, I., Nabi, M., and Asahi, K., in press, Modeling Flow, Sediment- Transport and Morphodynamics in Rivers, 37pp, in: Tools in Geomorphology, 2nd Ed., eds. Piegay, H. and Kondolf, M., Wiley and Sons, Chichester, 640pp.

Burns, E.R., Williams, C.F., Ingebritsen, S.E., Voss, C.I., Spane, F.A., and DeAngelo, J., 2015, Understanding heat and groundwater flow through continental flood basalt provinces: Insights gained from alternative models of permeability/depth relationships for the Columbia Plateau, USA: Geofluids, v. 15, p. 120-138,doi:10.1111/gfl.12095.

Johnson, W.P., Swanson, N., Black, B., Rudd, A., Carling, G., Fernandez, D.P., Luft, J., Van Leeuwen, J., and Marvin-DiPasquale, M., 2015, Total- and methyl-mercury concentrations and methylation rates across the freshwater to hypersaline continuum of the Great Salt Lake, Utah, USA: Science of The Total Environment, v. 511, p. 489-500.

Hupp, C.R., Schenk, E.R., Kroes, D.E., Willard, D.A., Townsend, P.A., and Peet, R.K. 2015. Patterns of floodplain sediment deposition along the regulated lower Roanoke River, North, Carolina: Annual, decadal, centennial scales. Geomorphology v. 228, pp. 666-680.

McCabe, G.J., Hay, L.E., Bock, Markstrom, S.L., and Atkinson, R.D., 2015, Inter-annual and spatial variability of Hamon potential evapotranspiration model coefficients: Journal of Hydrology, v. 521, p. 389–394.

Farrar, C., DeAngelo, J., Clor, L., Murphy, F., Williams, C., Grubb, F., and Hurwitz, S., 2010, Temperature data from wells in Long Valley Caldera, California (ver. 2.0, January 2015): U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 523 [get publication]

Cozzarelli, I. M., Schreiber, M. E., Erickson, M. L. and Ziegler, B. A. (2015), Arsenic Cycling in Hydrocarbon Plumes: Secondary Effects of Natural Attenuation. Groundwater. doi: 10.1111/gwat.12316

Fan, Y., Richard, S., Bristol, S., Ingebritsen, S.E., Moosdorf, N., Packman, A., Gleeson, T., Zaslavsky, I., Peckham, S., Murdoch, L., Feinen, M., Cardiff, M., Tarboton, D., Jones, N., Hooper, R., Arrigo, J., Gochis, D., Olson, J., and Wolock, D., 2015, DigitalCrust – A 4D data system of material properties for transforming research on crustal fluid flow:  Geofluids, v. 15, p. 372-379, doi:10.1111/gfl.12114.

Ingebritsen, S.E., and Gleeson, T., 2015, Crustal permeability:  Introduction to the special issue:  Geofluids, v. 15, p. 1-10,doi:10.1111/gfl.12118.

Batson, J., G. B. Noe, C. R. Hupp, K. W. Krauss, N. B. Rybicki, and E. R. Schenk (2015), Soil greenhouse gas emissions and carbon budgeting in a short-hydroperiod floodplain wetland, J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosci., 120, doi:10.1002/ 2014JG002817.

[View All NRP Publications]

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Featured Science and Activities

Leonard Konikow Elected as a Member of the National Academy of Engineering

USGS NRP Scientist Leonard Konikow

Leonard Konikow has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Academy membership, one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer, honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education. Read the full press release

Kim Wickland to Serve as Associate Editor for Limnology and Oceanography

USGS NRP Scientist Kimberly Wickland

Kim Wickland has been selected to serve as an Associate Editor for the journal Limnology and Oceanography, the flagship journal of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). You can access the journal here.

James Cloern to Receive ASLO Ruth Patrick Award

USGS NRP Scientist James Cloern

USGS NRP scientist James Cloern has been selected to receive the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography's prestigious Ruth Patrick Award. This award honors outstanding research by a scientist in the application of basic aquatic science principles to the identification, analysis and/or solution of important environmental problems.

Daniel Cayan and Michael Dettinger Receive California DWR Award

(L-R) USGS NRP Scientists Michael Dettinger and Daniel Cayan

USGS NRP scientists Daniel Cayan and Michael Dettinger, along with Anne Steinemann of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, were recipients of the Climate Science Service Award from the California Department of Water Resources. This award is given to researchers and consultants who have helped DWR incorporate climate change adaptation into water planning and management. Read the full press release

Jonathan Nelson Receives Hans Albert Einstein Award

USGS NRP Scientist Jonathan Nelson

Jonathan M. Nelson, Ph.D., M.ASCE, is the recipient of the 2014 Hans Albert Einstein Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This award recognizes his outstanding contributions to the advancement of river sediment transport and morphodynamics, and exceptional service to the community. Read the full press release

Elizabeth Jones Receives 2014 Dalway J. Swaine Award

NRP Scientist Emeritus Elizabeth Jones received the 2014 Dalway J. Swaine Award for best refereed paper in coal and hydrocarbon source rock geochemistry. You can acces the paper, The effect of coal bed dewatering and partial oxidation on biogenic methane potential, at

Clifford I. Voss Selected as 2015 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer

USGS NRP Scientist Clifford I. Voss

Clifford I. Voss has been selected as the 2015 Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished Lecturer by GSA's Hydrogeology Division. Cliff, an internationally recognized expert in groundwater modeling, is a senior scientist with the National Research Program. For more information or to schedule a presentation, please visit

NRP Scientist Carol Kendall Selected as AGU 2014 Walter Langbein Lecturer

USGS NRP Scientist Carol Kendall

The Walter B. Langbein Lecture is awarded by the AGU Hydrology Section "for lifetime contributions to the basic science of hydrology and/or unselfish service promoting cooperation in hydrologic research. Additional considerations may be the candidate's renown as a lecturer and/or as an educator." Carol will receive this award at her lecture at the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting on December 16.