Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) Program

The WEBB Program - Research in Small Watersheds

The U.S. Geological Survey initiated the Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) program in 1991 to understand the processes controlling water, energy, and biogeochemical fluxes over a range of temporal and spatial scales and to understand the interactions of these processes, including the effect of atmospheric and climatic variables. Five small research watersheds were selected, in part because they had existing long-term research data sets on which the WEBB program could build, and in part to be geographically and ecologically diverse and represent a range of hydrologic and climatic conditions.

  • Loch Vale Watershed, in the mountains of Colorado, has alpine, subalpine, and montane basins that are typical of the Rocky Mountains. Lying within Rocky Mountain National Park and administered by the National Park Service, the watershed has been part of the interagency National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program (NAPAP), and is a UNESCO- designated International Biosphere Reserve.

  • Luquillo Experimental Forest in eastern Puerto Rico is a tropical rainforest. It is administered by the U.S. Forest Service and has been designated a long-term ecological research (LTER) site by NSF and an International Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. WEBB research is also being conducted in the Río Grande de Loiza basin, an urbanized and agriculturally developed watershed near the Experimental Forest.

  • Panola Mountain Watershed, Georgia, is a forested watershed located southeast of Atlanta. It is in the Panola Mountain State Conservation Park, and has been part of NAPAP.

  • Sleepers River Watershed in northeastern Vermont is about 2/3 forest with the remaining land primarily pasture. The watershed was administered by the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service from 1957 to 1966; by the National Weather Service's Office of Hydrology from 1966 to 1979; and by the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). The site has also been used as a comparison site to the Hubbard Brook LTER site.

  • Trout Lake Watershed in northcentral Wisconsin is in a highlands lakes area. It is the North Temperate Lakes LTER which is operated through the University of Wisconsin's Center for Limnology.

Each of the WEBB sites has a long history of monitoring and interdisciplinary research. Studies have benefited from infrastructure support and a strong collaborative research relationship with scientists from universities and from other Federal and State agencies. The small size of the WEBB program watersheds (ranging from 41 to 12,000 ha) has allowed detailed investigation of hydrological and biogeochemical processes that would not have been possible in larger watersheds. For additional information, see, Lins, 1994, Hirsch, 1998, Baedecker, 2003 (in pdf format), and Glynn and others, 2009 (pdf format), or use a link above to see research being conducted at the individual sites. A fact sheet for the WEBB program and fact sheets for the individual sites are also available (Loch Vale, Luquillo Experimental Forest, Panola Mountain, Sleepers River, Trout Lake)

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