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Environmental Significace of the Groundwater-Surface Water Interaction Zone


Watershed Function

As the rate of environmental change intensifies, a number of large-scale drivers of change increasingly impact watershed functions that play a central role in numerous energy-water resource issues. In the Columbia River basin, these drivers include changes in land use and land cover, demographic shifts and population growth, and modifications in agricultural and irrigation patterns. Regional climate change is expected to lead to shifts in precipitation patterns causing lower snowpack and earlier annual hydrograph peaks. The impacts of these changes are modulated by human activities in the river corridor such as operation of storage reservoirs and hydroelectric dams and diversion of water for irrigation, industrial, and municipal uses. Like many highly managed large river systems, the Columbia River is a very dynamic hydrologic system because of these drivers of change and modulating factors.

Researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and our collaborators are developing mechanistic understanding of coupled hydrologic and biogeochemical processes in large dynamic rivers and associated watersheds, and translating that understanding into multiscale numerical models. In so doing, we aim to improve our ability to predict the impacts of environmental change and modulating factors on water quality, nutrient cycling and ecosystem health. We are partnering with regional and national stakeholders and regulatory agencies to understand their needs, communicate our scientific outcomes, and share new computational tools with the scientific and watershed management communities.

We are broadening the impact of our research through a variety of collaborative activities. Our vision is for our research site and capabilities to serve as a community hub for study of the river corridor and its role in watershed function, and we invite participation by any interested parties at a number of levels. Whether you are interested in formal scientific collaboration, would like to use our scientific products in your research or application, or would simply like a sample from one of our field sites, we encourage you to contact us.

Principal Investigator (PI):
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Watershed Coordinator:
Project Coordinator:

River Corridor and Watershed Hydrobiogeochemistry Scientific Focus Area flier.


This research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER), as part of BER's Subsurface Biogeochemistry Research Program (SBR). This contribution originates from the SBR Scientific Focus Area (SFA) at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

A portion of the research is performed within the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a DOE Office of Science User Facility sponsored by BER and located at PNNL.


Research Activities

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