Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018OH567B

Landscape fragmentation and water yield with unconventional shale oil and gas development in Ohio

Institute: Ohio
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $19,591 Total Non-Federal Funds: $26,049

Principal Investigators: Elizabeth Toman, Kaiguang Zhao

Abstract: Development of unconventional shale oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing has transformed the energy landscape of the United States. However, its environmental impacts remain poorly understood, especially regarding landscape fragmentation and changes to local or regional hydrology. This research will elucidate how hydraulic fracturing operations have been altering land cover and surface hydrology in Ohio. Using four treatment watersheds in eastern Ohio as focal areas, we will first characterize land conversion due to shale oil and gas development through analysis of multi-source remote sensing imagery. We will then employ a before-after-control-impact study design as well as novel time-series analysis to detect changes in stream flow and surface water yield and quantify the linkage between these hydrological changes and land cover changes associated with shale oil and gas development. We will disseminate our results to local residents and community leaders through the OSU Extension Shale Working Group: This research will provide Extension agents, community leaders, and concerned citizens with empirical data—much needed but currently nonexistent—on water quantity and ecosystem health measures with unconventional shale oil and gas development. Overall, our findings will be useful to inform policies in Ohio and beyond to mitigate environmental impacts of energy development.