National Research Program (NRP)

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Welcome to the National Research Program

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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:

  • Ecohydrology of Arid Lands

    Ecohydrology of Arid Lands: Julio Betancourt studies how climate variability affects terrestrial ecosystems. Here Julio is sampling and analyzing fossil rodent middens preserved in caves and rock shelters along remote cliffsides to reconstruct vegetation dynamics over the past 50,000 years in arid North and South America.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Wetland Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry

    Wetland Ecosystem Ecology and Biogeochemistry: Greg Noe's research seeks to understand the fundamental controls on how wetlands influence water quality by quantifying the interactive influences of hydrology, geomorphology, climate, and biology on nitrogen and phosphorus biogeochemistry in fluvial ecosystems.

Recent NRP Publications

Webb, R.M.T., and Parkhurst, D.L., 2017, Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Model (WEBMOD), user’s manual, version 1: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 6, chap. B35, 171 p.

Ebel, B.A., and Moody, J.A., 2017, Synthesis of soil-hydraulic properties and infiltration timescales in wildfire-affected soils: Hydrological Processes, v. 31, p. 324–340, doi: 10.1002/hyp.10998

Zlotnik, V.A., Ward, A., Harvey, J.W., Lautz, L.K., Rosenberry, D.O., and Brunner, P., 2017, Ch. 9. Groundwater-surface water interactions, in Cushman, J. and Tartakovsky, D., eds., The Handbook of Groundwater Engineering, Third Edition, CRC Press, Boca Raton, p. 237-288.

Cozzarelli, I.M., Skalak, K.J., Kent, D.B., Engle, M.A., Benthem, A., Mumford, A.C., Haase, K., Farag, A., Harper, D., Nagel, S.C., Iwanowicz, L.R., Orem, W.H., Akob, D.M., Jaeschke, J.B., Galloway, J., Kohler, M., Stoliker, D.L., Jolly, G.D., 2017, Environmental signatures and effects of an oil and gas wastewater spill in the Williston Basin, North Dakota, Science of The Total Environment, v. 579, p. 1781-1793.

Böhlke, J.K., Mroczkowski, S.J., Sturchio, N.C., Heraty, L.J., Richman, K.W., Sullivan, D.B., Griffith, K.N., Gu, B., and Hatzinger, P.B., 2017, Stable isotope analyses of oxygen (18O:17O:16O) and chlorine (37Cl:35Cl) in perchlorate: Reference materials, calibrations, methods, and interferences. Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, v. 31, p. 85-110.

Smith, R.L., Kent, D.B., Repert, D.A., and Böhlke, J.K., 2017, Anoxic nitrate reduction coupled with iron oxidation and attenuation of dissolved arsenic and phosphate in a sand and gravel aquifer. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 196, p. 102–120.

Overstreet, B. T., and Legleiter, C. J. (2017) Removing sun glint from optical remote sensing images of shallow rivers. Earth Surf. Process. Landforms, 42: 318–333. doi: 10.1002/esp.4063.

Niswonger, R., Naranjo, R., Smith, D., Constantz, J., Allander, K., Rosenberry, D., Neilson, B., Rosen, M., Stonestrom, D., 2017, Nutrient processes at the stream-lake interface for a channelized versus unmodified stream mouth, Water Resour. Res., 53.

Boyd, E.S., Yu, R.Q., Barkay, T., Hamilton, T.L., Baxter, B.K., Naftz, D.L., and Marvin-DiPasquale, M., 2017, Effect of salinity on mercury methylating benthic microbes and their activities in Great Salt Lake, Utah: Sci Total Environ.

Tanner, K.C., Windham-Myers, L., Fleck, J.A., Tate, K.W., McCord, S.A., Linquist, B.A., 2017, The Contribution of Rice Agriculture to Methylmercury in Surface Waters: A Review of Data from the Sacramento Valley, California, Journal of Environmental Quality, 46, 133-142. http://dx.doi/org/10.2134/jeq2016.07.0262

Kharaka, Y. K., Thordsen, J. J., Abedini, A., Beers, S. Thomas, B., 2017, Changes in the chemistry of groundwater reacted with CO2: Comparison of laboratory results with the ZERT field pilot.  Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, v. 17, p. 241 – 244.

Ouyang, B., D. M. Akob, D. S. Dunlap, and D. Renock. 2017. Microbially mediated barite dissolution in anoxic brines. Applied Geochemistry, 76: 51-59.

Oremland, R. S. and Stolz, J. F., 2017, Metabolomic changes in response to toxic arsenite. Environ Microbiol.

Mao, X., Oremland, R.S., Liu, T., Gushgari, S., Landers, A.A., Baesman, S.M., Alvarez-Cohen, L., 2017, Acetylene fuels TCE reductive dechlorination by defined Dehalococcoides/Pelobacter consortia. Environmental Science and Technology.

Sutton JM, Baesman SM, Fierst JL, Poret-Peterson AT, Oremland RS, Dunlap DS, Akob DM. 2017. Complete genome sequence of the acetylene-fermenting Pelobacter sp. strain SFB93. Genome Announc 5:e01573-16.

[View All NRP Publications]

Topical Research Teams

The National Research Program's topical research teams consist of small groups of scientists that cross the boundaries of historic USGS sub-disciplines, Branches, and Mission Areas. They often include scientists from outside agencies as well. These teams are formed to address potentially important issues for which there currently is limited activity in the Water Mission Area. Outcomes from the topical teams could identify new research directions and result in the formation of new collaborations and partnerships.

Featured Science and Activities

James Cloern Receives Odum Award for Lifetime Achievement

USGS NRP Scientist Dr. James Cloern.

Dr. James Cloern has received the Odum Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Odum Award is named for the three outstanding ecological scientists in the Odum family: Dr. Howard T. Odum; Dr. Eugene P. Odum; and Dr. William E. Odum, III. It honors an individual whose record of sustained accomplishments has made important contributions to our understanding of estuaries and coastal ecosystems. Read more...

Ean Warren Named American Chemical Society Fellow

USGS NRP Scientist Dr. Ean Warren.

Ean Warren is one of 65 Fellows to be feted at the American Chemical Society's (ACS) autumn national meeting in Washington D.C. The ACS Fellows program honors individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions to science, the profession, and ACS. Ean was named a Fellow largely for his many years of volunteer service to the ACS community as a ACS councilor, local section chair, and national committee member. Read more...

Isabelle M. Cozzarelli Receives Meritorious Service Award

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli with fellow USGS scientists in Bemidji, MN.

Dr. Isabelle M. Cozzarelli received the U.S. Department of Interior's Meritorious Service Award for her numerous contributions to understanding the biogeochemical controls of contaminant degradation in groundwater and near-surface environments. The Meritorious Service Award is granted to employees for important contributions to science or management, a notable career, superior service in administration or in the execution of duties, or initiative in devising new and improved work methods and procedures. Read the full announcement

James Cloern and Judson Harvey Selected as AGU Fellows

James Cloern and Judson Harvey of the USGS National Research Program have been selected selected into the 2016 class of AGU Fellows. This special honor acknowledges Fellows for their remarkable contributions to their research fields, exceptional knowledge, and visionary leadership. Only 0.1% of AGU membership receives this recognition in any given year. Read the announcement

Ron Oremland Selected as AGU Ocean Sciences and Biogeosciences William and Carelyn Reeburgh Lecturer

USGS NRP Scientist Dr. Ron Oremland.

Dr. Ron Oremland was selected as the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Ocean Sciences and Biogeosciences William and Carelyn Reeburgh lecturer for the Autumn 2016 Meeting. The AGU Ocean Sciences Honors and Awards Committee selected Ron based on his "outstanding leadership in microbial biogeochemistry". Ron is the first awardee of this new honor selected by Ocean Sciences. Read more about the lectureship

Mark Schmeeckle Selected as Borland Lecturer in Hydraulics

USGS NRP Scientist Dr. Mark Schmeeckle.

NRP scientist Dr. Mark Schmeeckle has been selected by the Organizing Committee of Hydrology Days and the Borland Committee as the Borland Lecturer in Hydraulics for 2016. Dr. Schmeeckle's award will be presented at Hydrology Days 2016 at Colorado State University. Read more...

Langston Hughes Students Visit USGS National Center Labs

Middle school students visit the USGS Reston Microbiology Lab and the USGS Groundwater Dating Lab.

NRP scientists, Dr. Denise Akob, Dr. Karl Haase, and Dr. Adam Mumford, hosted tours of the USGS Reston Microbiology Lab and the USGS Groundwater Dating Lab for 18 middle school students as part of the White House’s My Brother's Keeper "Day at the Lab/African American Heritage Month" national events on February 29, 2016. The tours were featured in the March 4, 2016 edition of "This Week at Interior" (view the video) and the Fairfax Times (read the article)

The Fate of Sediment When Freshwater Meets Saltwater

Tidal freshwater swamp along the Pocomoke River in Maryland.

Two recent USGS investigations, have measured sedimentation rates along the barely perceptible slope of rivers as they empty into estuaries. The findings of these studies have important implications for the restoration of estuaries - for example, the Chesapeake Bay - and their resilience in the face of sea level rise. Read the press release