The High Intensity Aquatic Network portal supports research efforts that model the impacts of current climatic extremes on aquatic ecosystem services under different land management. It also provides data for outreach and education.
The NH EPSCoR High Intensity Aquatic Network is one of the core research areas of the NH EPSCoR Ecosystems and Society project and is fully funded by NSF EPSCoR. This is a novel network intended to better understand the impacts of climate variability and land management on ecosystem services in NH and to provide critical information that can be used to develop and test ecosystem models. The network consists of coupled headwater and mainstem sites in two major watersheds draining the state, the Great Bay/Piscataqua River and the Merrimack River watersheds. There are three headwater sites in both the Merrimack and Great Bay watersheds, and one additional site in the headwaters of the Saco River watershed. Together these seven headwater sites represent three regions of the state and four different land cover/land use types (upland forests, wetlands, urban and agriculture) that will inform our understanding of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem services in different regions and land uses. There are three mainstem river sites (two in the Merrimack and one in the Great Bay watershed) distributed along the aquatic continuum that will inform regional scaling and understanding of aquatic ecosystem services. These networks serve as a platform for outreach and education, as well as the backbone of research efforts that model the impacts of current climatic extremes on aquatic ecosystem services under different land management.
The network is cutting edge in four important aspects. First, it captures ecosystem response throughout a state; other networks focus more on making comparisons among biomes, and most other uses of sensors are site-specific rather than networked (e.g., Pellerin et al., 2009). Second, it uses the most advanced sensor technology currently available to measure a wide range of parameters in aquatic and soil systems with high temporal resolution, whereas most existing efforts focus on only a few parameters at reduced temporal resolution. High temporal resolution is necessary to understand the impacts of climate variability, but has been difficult to implement previously due to time and cost constraints. New sensor technology now positions us to better understand responses to climate variability in different land uses (Pellerin et al., 2008; 2009; Saraceno et al., 2009). Third, the network explicitly links aquatic response in headwater streams to conditions in the watersheds that they drain. Fourth, it quantifies the extent to which the headwater “signal” (e.g., production of a pulse of nitrate or colored organic matter) propagates through the entire river drainage network and is delivered to sensitive downstream ecosystems.