Students in PSU’s graduate course in Watershed Hydrology got a lesson in the dynamics of the Pemigewasset River on March 7, 2011. Heavy rains (4 inches recorded at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest) on March 6th and 7th created a combination of runoff, melting, and ice jams on the river which formed on the river causing local flooding, but also provided an example of how real time data can help understand the water flows.
Assistant professor Mark Green changed his teaching plans to incorporate data from the US Geological Survey river gage in Plymouth. “Seeing the ice jam and then looking at the data from the river provided the students with a chance to explore how these types of events happen,” said Green. “It prompted discussions about how dynamic watershed processes can be and the challenges of forecasting floods.”
Marguerite Crowell, a student in the class commented that, “The data show how early in the rain event the increasing temperature of the river due to the rain led to river ice breaking up and collecting to form the ice jam. This all occurred in a short amount of time. Predictions can be made based on the data, and with models. Focusing on this current event allowed us to make connections to our local environment.
Data about the river are available at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nh/nwis/uv?site_no=01076500.