State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008NH90B
Title: The role of landscape controls on stream chemistry variability and inorganic aluminum mobilization in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: NH02
Focus Categories: Hydrogeochemistry, Acid Deposition, Surface Water
Keywords: stream chemistry, regional scaling, inorganic monomeric aluminum
Principal Investigators: McGuire, Kevin (Plymouth State University); Bailey, Scott W. ; Doogan, Christian B. ; Estabrook, Robert ; Kahl, Steve (Plymouth State University)
Federal Funds: $ 19,569
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 40,961
Abstract: Surface waters in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire largely emanate from headwaters dominated by shallow soils and short water residence time. Aluminum mobilization associated with these conditions has been a concern due to impacts on aquatic organisms and habitat. Even though some reduction in aluminum concentrations have been observed for surface waters in a few well-studied experimental watersheds, the extent of impacted systems in the White Mountain region remains unknown, especially with regards to aluminum species considered to be most toxic (e.g., inorganic monomeric aluminum). The goal of this study is to develop a regional assessment of the extent of toxic aluminum mobilization and predict stream chemistry variability at the landscape scale using easily measured watershed features such as basin size and topographic indices as an organizing framework. We will develop a new comprehensive regional dataset that can be used to address the extent and distribution stream chemistry, scale-related structure of water chemistry, and landscape controls on aluminum mobilization and speciation. Sites for additional monitoring will be objectively identified through a meta-analysis of existing data in the White Mountain region. Expected results include a model capable of predicting the spatial distribution of water chemistry within a stream network using map information and downstream sample locations and an overall improved understanding of how landscape attributes affect stream chemistry within the White Mountains. These results will allow for better management of aquatic habitat, assessment and design of mitigation for land management impacts (e.g. timber harvesting) and appreciation of natural controls on stream chemistry across the landscape as systems are in the process of recovery from anthropogenic acid deposition impacts. While toxic aluminum mobilization addresses an important water quality issue in this and other similar regions, knowledge gained from networking watersheds of varying scale and landscape attributes will be applicable to a wide range of hydrologic and hydrochemical issues.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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