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

  • 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.

  • Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Systems

    Geochemistry of Hydrothermal Systems: Bill Evans demonstrates proper use of a ring stand and graduated cylinder to collect gas from an Alaskan mud volcano. This feature was dormant for decades before "erupting" carbon dioxide gas in the late 1990s.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Aqueous Crystal Growth and Dissolution Kinetics

    Aqueous Crystal Growth and Dissolution Kinetics: Mike Reddy uses techniques of low-temperature geochemistry to interpret and characterize chemical processes occurring in surface water and ground water. In this image, Hot Springs at the Needles Area of Pyramid Lake, NV shows active calcium carbonate precipitation.

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.

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.

Aiken G.R., 2014, Fluorescence and Dissolved Organic Matter: A Chemist’s Perspective. In Aquatic Organic Matter Fluorescence (P.G. Coble, J. Lead, A. Baker, D. Reynolds, and R.G.M. Spencer, eds), Cambridge University Press, New York, 35-74.

Révész, K. M., Sherwood Lollar, Kirshtein, J.D., Tiedeman, C. R.., Imbrigiotta, T. E., Goode, D. J., Shapiro, A. M., Voytek, M. A., Lacombe, P. J. and Busenberg, E., 2014: Integration of stable carbon isotope, microbial community, dissolved hydrogen gas, and 2H2O tracer data to assess bioaugmentation for chlorinated ethene degradation in fractured rock: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 156 (2014) 62-77.

Cozzarelli, I.M., Mckelvie, J.R. and Baehr, A.L., 2014. 11.12 - Volatile Hydrocarbons and Fuel Oxygenates Treatise on Geochemistry (Second Edition). In: H.D. Holland and K.K. Turekian (Editors). Elsevier, Oxford, pp. 439-480.

Busenberg, Eurybiades, and Plummer, L. Niel, 2014, A 17-year record of environmental tracers in spring discharge, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA—Use of climatic data and environmental conditions to interpret discharges, dissolved solutes, and tracer concentrations.  Aquatic Geochemistry, v. 20, p. 267–290, DOI 10.1007/s10498-013-9202-y.

Kharaka Y.K., and Hanor J.S., 2014. Deep Fluids in Sedimentary Basins. In: Holland H.D. and Turekian K.K. (eds.) Treatise on Geochemistry, Second Edition, vol. 7, pp. 472-515. Oxford: Elsevier.

Qi, Haiping., Lorenz, Jennifer. M., Coplen, Tyler. B., Tarbox, Lauren., Mayer, Bernhard., and Taylor, Steve., 2014, Lake Louise Water (USGS47): A new isotopic reference water for stable hydrogen and oxygen isotope measurements: Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 28, p. 351-354 doi:10.1002/rcm.6789

Khan, F. R., Kennaway., G. M., Croteau, M-N., Dybowska, A., Smith, B. D, Nogueira, A. J. A., Rainbow, P. S., Luoma, S. N., Valsami-Jones, E., 2014, In vivo retention of ingested Au NPs by Daphnia magna—No evidence for trans-epithelial alimentary uptake: Chemosphere, in press, doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.12.051

Kulp, T.R., Laurence G. Miller, Franco Braiotta, Samuel M. Webb, Benjamin D. Kocar, Jodi S. Blum, and Ronald S. Oremland, 2014, Microbiological Reduction of S(V) in Anoxic Freshwater Sediments Environ. Sci. Technol. 2014, 48, 218−226,dx.doi.org/10.1021/es403312j.

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Featured Science and Activities

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 ScienceDirect.com.

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 http://water.usgs.gov/nrp/2015-Birdsall-Dreiss-Lecture-Voss/.

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.

Arctic Methane Emissions "Certain to Trigger Warming"

Coastal erosion reveals permafrost underlying the Arctic Coastal Plain in Alaska.

As climate change melts Arctic permafrost and releases large amounts of methane into the atmosphere, it is creating a feedback loop that is "certain to trigger additional warming," according to the lead scientist of a new study investigating Arctic methane emissions. Read the full press release or access the original article

The Connected Consequences of River Dams

Conceptual model of how two dams in a sequence may interact.

In a case study of dams on the upper Missouri River, USGS researchers have demonstrated that an upstream dam is still a major control of river dynamics where the backwater effects of a downstream reservoir begin. In light of this finding, the conventional understanding of how a dam can influence a river may have to be adjusted to account for the fact that effects of river dams can interact with one another. Read the full press release