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

  • Synoptic Scale Hydroclimatic Processes and Hazards

    Synoptic Scale Hydroclimatic Processes and Hazards: Gregory McCabe identifies climate factors that result in extended and severe droughts, which is important for the management of water resources in the western United States. These photos of Lake Powell and the confluence of the Colorado and Dirty Devil rivers show a 17-meter drop in the reservoir pool elevation from June 29, 2002 to December 23, 2003 (photos by John Dohrenwend).

  • Biogeochemical Controls on Contaminant Degradation in Heterogeneous Near Surface Environments

    Biogeochemical Controls on Contaminant Degradation in Heterogeneous Near Surface Environments: Denise Akob uses microbiology, molecular biology, and biogeochemistry to understand the role of microorganisms in both contaminated and pristine ecosystems.

  • 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.

  • Plankton Dynamics in Tidal Estuaries

    Plankton Dynamics in Tidal Estuaries: Jim Cloern gives a tutorial on scientific writing and publishing for graduate students at the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, India.

  • 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).

Campbell, K. M., Gallegos, T. J., Landa, E. R. (2015) Biogeochemical aspects of uranium mining, milling, and remediation. Applied Geochemistry 57: 206-235.

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, Introduction to the special issue on crustal permeability: Geofluids, v. 15, p. 1-10,doi:10.1111/gfl.12118.

[View All NRP Publications]

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Featured Science and Activities

John Nimmo Receives Soil Science Society of America Fellow Award

USGS NRP Scientist John Nimmo

John Nimmo has received the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Fellow Award, the highest recognition bestowed by the SSSA. Dr. Nimmo’s publications have made major advances in the measurement, estimation, and understanding of soil hydraulic processes and properties. He also pioneered the use of centrifugal force for accurate hydraulic-property measurements at low water contents.

Dallas Hudson: Heeding Nature's Call with One-Lake Study

USGS NRP Scientist Dallas Hudson

Dallas Hudson has studied northern pike in Minnesota to determine how quickly they grow and how they respond to angling pressure. Read the full article

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