An introduction to high-frequency nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California

Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5071
Prepared in cooperation with the Delta Regional Monitoring Program
By: , and 

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Executive Summary

This report is the first 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). This first report provides an introduction to the reasons for and fundamental concepts behind collecting HF measurements, and describes the benefits associated with a real-time, continuous, HF, multi-parameter water quality monitoring station network that is co-located with flow stations. It then provides examples of how HF nutrient measurements have improved our understating of nutrient sources and cycling in aquatic systems worldwide, followed by specific examples from the Delta. These examples describe the ways in which HF instrumentation may be used for both fixed-station and spatial assessments. The overall intent of this document is to describe how HF measurements currently (2017) are being used in the Delta to examine the relationship between nutrient concentrations, nutrient cycling, and aquatic habitat conditions.

The second report in the series (Downing and others, 2017) summarizes information about HF nutrient and associated biogeochemical monitoring in the northern Delta. The report synthesizes data available from the nutrient and water quality monitoring network currently operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in this ecologically important region of the Delta. In the report, we 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 (for example, storms, reservoir releases, phytoplankton blooms) timescales. As expected, we determined that there is substantial variability in nitrate concentrations at short timescales within hours, but also significant variability at longer timescales such as months or years. This multi-scale, high variability affects calculation of fluxes and loads, indicating that HF monitoring is necessary for understanding and assessing flux-based processes and outcomes in tidal environments, such as the Delta.

The third report in the series (Bergamaschi and others, 2017) provides information about how to design HF nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring for assessment of nutrient inputs and dynamics in the Delta. The report provides background, principles, and considerations for designing an HF nutrient-monitoring network for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta to address high-priority, nutrient-management questions. The report starts with high-priority management questions to be addressed, continues with 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. For the three example networks, we assess how they would address high-priority questions identified by the Delta Regional Monitoring Program (Delta Regional Monitoring Program Technical Advisory Committee, 2015).

Suggested Citation

Kraus, T.E.C., Bergamaschi, B.A., and Downing, B.D., 2017, An introduction to high-frequency nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5071, 41 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20175071.

ISSN: 2328-0328 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Background
  • New Technologies that Permit High-Frequency Measurement of Nutrients and Related Parameters
  • Attributes of a High-Frequency, Nutrient Monitoring Network
  • Designing a High-Frequency Monitoring Network
  • Insights from High-Frequency Nutrient Measurements Worldwide
  • Insights from High-Frequency Nutrient Measurements in the Delta
  • Future Changes to Nutrient Loads and Ecosystem Processing
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title An introduction to high-frequency nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2017-5071
DOI 10.3133/sir20175071
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description vi, 41 p.
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Sacramento-San Joaquin delta
Online Only (Y/N) Y