delware environmental institute

Water in a changing world: Experimental watershed provides new insights, rich education experience

Water in a changing world: Experimental watershed provides new insights, rich education experience

Six years and about 4,000 water samples later, an outdoor experimental watershed laboratory established by University of Delaware faculty members Shreeram Inamdar and Delphis Levia at Fair Hill, Md., is now producing valuable data and novel insights into how water and chemicals move through the forest canopy, soils and watersheds, and how future climate change may impact or alter such responses.

Inamdar, associate professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, has investigated the role of soils, streams, and watersheds in leaching water and nutrients, while Levia, professor in the Department of Geography, has studied the interactions of atmosphere and the forest canopy in leaching water and nutrients. Together, they have provided a complete picture of watershed hydrology and biogeochemistry.

The two were awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 2008 to study the mechanisms behind the leaching and exports of carbon and nitrogen from watersheds and how these chemicals evolve as they change in space -- traveling through the forest canopy, soils, and stream drainage network -- and as they change in time through the different seasons.