Environmental Sciences student James Hanes (BS 2016) has accepted a Water Resources Center Undergraduate Internship for Fall 2015 to work with A. Scott Andres of DGS, and William Ullman and Christopher Main of the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware. James will work on high-frequency environmental data collected by the North East Water Resources Network (NEWRNet) project (http://www.dgs.udel.edu/projects/newrnet-north-east-water-resources-network), an NSF-EPSCoR funded project that includes investigators and students from the Universities of Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont. James’s planned work is an extension of the research he initiated as a NEWRNet Undergraduate Research Fellow during the summer of 2015.
James will continue analyze data collected by high-frequency water-quality sensors installed in the Murderkill River at Coursey Pond, west of Frederica, Delaware. During the summer, James developed computational methods to calculate net daily net primary productivity (NPP) and respiration rates from dissolved oxygen data as indicators of the environmental status and ecosystem services provided by the Pond. The new computational method is automatable and, therefore, results could be reported every morning (for the previous day) to environmental officials to better manage the Pond and scientists interested in how physical forcing (water flow, weather conditions, storms) affects pond processes and contaminant loads to downstream waters. These results will also permit managers to better forecast and anticipate algal blooms and other noxious conditions in the pond.
The computation of net primary productivity is one step towards calculating the true economic value of ecosystem services provided by Coursey Pond. Associating high-frequency water quality observations to real economic value is a key goal of NEWRNet Project. When integrated with flow every unit increase in oxygen during the spring, summer, and fall, represents proportional amounts of dissolved N, P, and C taken up from the pond, converted to biomass, and stored in pond sediments that will not affect downstream ecosystems, including the Murderkill Estuary and Delaware Bay. In this respect, Coursey Pond and other similar ponds in Delaware provide services for agricultural watersheds and watersheds lacking centralized wastewater collection systems, analogous to those provided by wastewater treatment plants for domestic and municipal effluents.
James will also be collaborating with his internship advisors and other NEWRNet investigators to prepare his results for publication in a professional journal.