Synthesis of data from high-frequency nutrient and associated biogeochemical monitoring for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5066
Prepared in cooperation with the Delta Regional Monitoring Program
By: , and 

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Executive Summary

This report is the second in a series of three reports that provide information about high-frequency (HF) nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta of northern California (Delta). The purpose of this report is to synthesize the data available from a nutrient and water-quality HF (about every 15 minutes) monitoring network operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in the northern Delta. In this report, we describe the network and focus on the purpose of each station. We then present and discuss the available data, at various timescales—first at the monthly, seasonal, and inter-annual timescales, and second, for comparison, at the tidal and event timescales. As expected, we determined that there is substantial variability in nitrate-N concentrations at short timescales within hours, but also significant variability at longer timescales such as months or years. Resolving this variability is made possible by the HF data, with the largest variability caused by storms, tides, and diel biological processes. Given this large temporal variability, calculations of cumulative nutrient fluxes (for example, daily, monthly, or annual loads) is difficult without HF data. For example, in the Cache Slough, calculation of the annual load without the tidal variability resulted in a 30 percent underestimation of the true annual load value. We conclude that HF measurements are important for accurate determination of fluxes and loads in tidal environments, but, more importantly, provide important insights into processes and rates of nutrient cycling.

This report, along with the other two reports of this series (Bergamaschi and others, 2017; Kraus, Bergamaschi, and others, 2017), was drafted in cooperation with the Delta Regional Monitoring Program to help scientists, managers, and planners understand how HF data improve our understanding of nutrient sources and sinks, drivers, and effects in the Delta. The first report in the series (Kraus, Bergamaschi, and others, 2017) provides an introduction to the reasons for and fundamental concepts behind using HF monitoring measurements, including a brief summary of nutrient status and trends in the Delta and an extensive literature review showing how and where other research and monitoring programs have used HF monitoring to improve our understanding of nutrient cycling. The report covers the various technologies available for HF nutrient monitoring and presents the different ways HF monitoring instrumentation may be used for fixed station and spatial assessments. Finally, it presents numerous examples of how HF measurements are currently (2017) being used in the Delta to examine how nutrients and nutrient cycling are related to aquatic habitat conditions.

The third report in the series (Bergamaschi and others, 2017) provides the background, principles, and considerations for designing an HF nutrient-monitoring network for the Delta to address high-priority, nutrient-management questions. The report starts with discussion of the high‑priority management questions to be addressed, continues through discussion of the questions and considerations that place demands and constraints on network design, discusses the principles applicable to network design, and concludes with the presentation of three example nutrient-monitoring network designs for the Delta, proposed to address high-priority questions identified by the Delta Regional Monitoring Program (Delta Regional Monitoring Program Technical Advisory Committee, 2015).

Suggested Citation

Downing, B.D., Bergamaschi, B.A., and Kraus, T.E.C., 2017, Synthesis of data from high-frequency nutrient and associated biogeochemical monitoring for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5066, 28 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175066.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Existing U.S. Geological Survey High-Frequency, Nutrient-Monitoring Network
  • Synthesis of Data from a Nutrient and Water-Quality High-Frequency Network
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited
  • Appendix A

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Synthesis of data from high-frequency nutrient and associated biogeochemical monitoring for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5066
DOI 10.3133/sir20175066
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description vi, 28 p.
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sacramento-San Joaquin delta
Online Only (Y/N) Y