Potential for real‐time understanding of coupled hydrologic and biogeochemical processes in stream ecosystems: Future integration of telemetered data with process models for glacial meltwater streams

Water Resources Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

While continuous monitoring of streamflow and temperature has been common for some time, there is great potential to expand continuous monitoring to include water quality parameters such as nutrients, turbidity, oxygen, and dissolved organic material. In many systems, distinguishing between watershed and stream ecosystem controls can be challenging. The usefulness of such monitoring can be enhanced by the application of quantitative models to interpret observed patterns in real time. Examples are discussed primarily from the glacial meltwater streams of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Although the Dry Valley landscape is barren of plants, many streams harbor thriving cyanobacterial mats. Whereas a daily cycle of streamflow is controlled by the surface energy balance on the glaciers and the temporal pattern of solar exposure, the daily signal for biogeochemical processes controlling water quality is generated along the stream. These features result in an excellent outdoor laboratory for investigating fundamental ecosystem process and the development and validation of process‐based models. As part of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long‐Term Ecological Research project, we have conducted field experiments and developed coupled biogeochemical transport models for the role of hyporheic exchange in controlling weathering reactions, microbial nitrogen cycling, and stream temperature regulation. We have adapted modeling approaches from sediment transport to understand mobilization of stream biomass with increasing flows. These models help to elucidate the role of in‐stream processes in systems where watershed processes also contribute to observed patterns, and may serve as a test case for applying real‐time stream ecosystem models.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Potential for real‐time understanding of coupled hydrologic and biogeochemical processes in stream ecosystems: Future integration of telemetered data with process models for glacial meltwater streams
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1002/2015WR017618
Volume 51
Issue 8
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher AGU
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Water
Description 14 p.
First page 6725
Last page 6738
Other Geospatial McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica