Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) Program

Investigation of Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico


Period of Project: Oct 1990 through present

Field Location: Eastern Puerto Rico (Luquillo Experimental Forest and the Río Grande de Loiza basin)

tropical mountain streamThe USGS-funded WEBB program is aimed at improving understanding of processes controlling terrestrial water, energy, and biogeochemical fluxes, their interactions, and their relations to climatic variables; and the ability to predict continental water, energy, and biogeochemical budgets over a range of spatial and temporal scales (Lins, 1994, Hirsch, 1998, Baedecker, 2003 (in pdf format*), and Glynn and others, 2009 (pdf format*). The Luquillo WEBB research project is a cooperative effort led by USGS Caribbean Water Science Center and USGS National Research Program researchers. Other WEBB research sites are located in Colorado, Georgia, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The Luquillo WEBB research project is presently calculating water, energy, carbon, nutrient, dissolved-constituent, and sediment (suspended and bed load) budgets in four watersheds located in eastern Puerto Rico. Two of the watersheds are in tropical rain forest in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), an 11,300 hectare forest preserve administered by the U.S Forest Service. Two additional watersheds are located in the agriculturally-developed and partially urbanized Río Grande de Loiza basin. See location map. The four watersheds are being compared and contrasted according to dominant land use (forested versus developed) and lithology (intrusive bedrock versus volcaniclastic bedrock) Click here for photographs. The sites are instrumented with streamflow, meteorological, soil, and ground-water monitoring and sampling equipment. Some of the principal study objectives are the comparison of chemical weathering, erosion, and mass wasting processes in an environment with a history of anthropogenic modification and periodic extreme hydrologic events associated with the passage of hurricanes. Luquillo WEBB publications describe a variety of topics including watershed-scale water and sediment budgets, surface runoff, hillslope processes and sources of fluvial sediment, slopewash, soil creep, tree throw, and landsliding. In addition, budgets of all aqueous constituents are being developed.The Luquillo WEBB project welcomes interested researchers and has collaborated with university and government scientists as well as graduate and undergraduate students from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Information related to volunteering with USGS is available through the internet.

Within the LEF, the National Science Foundation supported Luquillo Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site has been operated continuously since 1988. The Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory (LCZO) is also located within the LEF and the Luquillo WEBB Project is intricately linked to this multidisciplinary National Science Foundation (NSF) program. The overarching goal of the LCZO is to address how critical zone processes, water balances, and mass fluxes differ in landscapes with contrasting lithology but similar climatic and environmental histories. Additional information about the LEF can be found through the U.S. Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry and at the University of Puerto Rico Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies.

For additional information, please contact Heather Buss, USGS Luquillo WEBB site coordinator, at 650-329-4420, or via email at: hlbuss@usgs.gov.

[* For articles in Adobe® (.PDF) format, please note that you can download a free copy of Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® here. Also see, Information for users with disabilities, if applicable.]

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