Understanding Regional Water Resources with Isotopes

May 16th, 2011 by June

By Mark Green

We’re surrounded by a bunch of odd, but harmless, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. These atoms are isotopes, meaning that they have extra neutrons. Hydrogen-2 has one extra neutron and occurs about once per every 6800 hydrogen atoms in New England waters; oxygen-18 has two extra neutrons and occurs about once per every 500 oxygen atoms in New England waters. These isotopes are stable and are very useful for understanding how water moves in watersheds because some water sources have different amounts of these stable isotopes. For example, snow looks really different than rain with regards to oxygen and hydrogen isotopes.

Tracing Source Waters in the Pemigewasset River Watershed

May 16th, 2011 by June

By Kristin Brandt, Graduate Student

I am using water stable isotopes of oxygen-18 and hydrogen-2 to trace waters in the Pemigewasset River Watershed. This research has great potential to provide some unexpected knowledge of the hydrology in the region. My study area is 622 square miles and includes sampling of the Pemigewasset River, the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River, the Lost River/Moosilauke Brook, Hubbard Brook and its tributary Paradise Brook, the Mad River, and the Baker River and its tributary Clay Brook. I am also sampling groundwater wells and rainfall. From the samples I collect I can determine if water in the streams looks more like groundwater or more like rain. In addition to collecting isotope samples, I am also measuring pH, temperature, and conductivity of the streams and groundwater. With these measurements I can determine if groundwater entering the stream can explain changes in pH in the river and if temperature can be used as effectively as isotopes to determine whether or not groundwater is entering the stream. I am using a combination of statistical, graphical, and GIS techniques to analyze my data.

Spring News from the Environmental Research Laboratory

May 16th, 2011 by June

by Aaron Johnson

The Environmental Research Laboratory is gearing up for the 2011 sampling season.  This summer, we will continue its collaboration with NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) to provide support and analysis for volunteer lake and river monitoring groups in the northern part of the state. Last summer’s work led to the addition of 8 new lakes in Coos County to the state Volunteer Lake Assessment Program, and we anticipate more lake groups using our lab in the future.

CFE Students Present at Research Symposium

May 4th, 2011 by June

Several Center for the Environment graduates students in PSU’s MS in Environmental Science and Policy program presented posters at Plymouth State’s Scientific Research Symposium on April 29, 2011. The symposium was designed to highlight student research projects at PSU.

Students posters included:

CFE Presentation at Meeting of NH Arc Users Group

April 18th, 2011 by June

Lisa Doner, Research Assistant Professor, and Christina Maki, MS Candidate in Environmental Science & Policy, will be speaking at the New Hampshire Arc Users Group Meeting on April 20, 2011. Their talk is on “Tracking Geochemical Sources in an Iceland Watershed”.

The NH Arc Users Group is an informal group that meets several times a year for professional development and networking opportunities around GIS-related topics. For more information, visit their website.

Ice Jam and Flooding Provide Learning Opportunity

March 11th, 2011 by June

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.

As Time Passes Over the Land

February 9th, 2011 by June

Plymouth State University’s Karl Drerup Art Gallery and White Mountains Institute present As Time Passes Over the Land, paintings of the White Mountains, February 8–April 9 at the Drerup Gallery.

The exhibition includes 29 works by 20 artists. White Mountain School painting has long been admired for the ways in which artists captured and embellished the natural beauty of the region. Equally embedded in those paintings is evidence of environmental change, from the impact of settlers’ activities including clear-cutting, hunting and farming, to the industrial practices of pulp mills and mines.

The text for the exhibition catalog was written by PSU professors: historian Marcia Schmidt Blaine and the Center for the Environment’s hydrologist Mark Green, and reflects the interdisciplinary approach of the exhibition.

Exhibition information is online at plymouth.edu/gallery/collection/as-time-passes-over-the-land.

Spring 2011 Environmental Science Colloquium

February 1st, 2011 by June

Come join us for our spring semester Environmental Science Colloquium on Wednesday afternoons from 4-5 pm at the Boyd Science Center, Room 001. The talks cover a wide range of topics around environmental science and sustainability. The colloquium is available for graduate credit and we also invite the community to come for free. This spring, the Colloquium is sponsored by the Center for the Environment and the White Mountains Institute. For more information, contact Doug Earick or Kim Duncan. Read on for the complete list of dates and speakers.

Davis Conservation Foundation Supporting CFE’s Water Quality Monitoring Work

February 1st, 2011 by June

CFE recently received funding from the Davis Conservation Foundation to enhance the monitoring of surface water bodies in New Hampshire’s North Country. In 2011, we will be working on developing a network of volunteers serving to help with water quality monitoring.

New Hampshire relies on volunteers to help monitor water quality through the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ (DES) Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP) and Volunteer River Assessment Program (VRAP). CFE’s Environmental Research Laboratory works with VLAP and VRAP volunteers providing sampling equipment, analyzing water samples, and reporting the results to both DES and volunteers. “We provide a convenient location for volunteers in the North Country and Lakes Region,” said Aaron Johnson, senior laboratory technician.

Happy Holidays from the Center for the Environment

December 14th, 2010 by June

Center for the EnvironmentThe Center for the Environment (CFE) opened in 2004 to assist the region with addressing environmental science questions through research, education and collaboration. Working with students, faculty, and off-campus partners, our goal is to define, acquire, and provide science-based knowledge that can be used to make informed decisions. After five years as associate director, Brian Eisenhauer is currently interim director of the Center and June Hammond Rowan is serving as interim associate director.

This fall we welcomed five new graduate students to PSU’s MS in Environmental Science and Policy program which we coordinate with the College of Graduate Studies. Since 2005, thirteen students have completed their degree and many remain in New Hampshire in a variety of positions related to their work at CFE. Our program is small providing meaningful courses, individualized instruction, and research experiences for these students.

Contact Us

Contact Us

January 9th, 2013 by Michael

Center for the Environment

Plymouth State University
Russell House
MSC #63, 17 High Street
Plymouth, NH 03264

phone (603) 535-3179
fax (603) 535-3004