The results, which extend as far back as the year 1600, appear in the current issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology in the article "Tapping Environmental History to Recreate America's Colonial Hydrology." The findings provide a new way of uncovering the hydrology of the past and will lead to a better understanding of hydrologic systems now and in the future, the scientists say.
"We outline a methodology for synthesizing modern scientific data with historical records, including anecdotal sources," Pastore says, the paper's lead author. "It underscores the role of humans in an assessment of hydrologic change."
Throughout American history, water resources have played an integral role in shaping patterns of human settlement and networks of biological and economic exchange.
"The research emphasizes the effect of human activities on the evolution of watersheds and on the dynamics of ecosystems, important to water sustainability," says Thomas Torgersen, program director in National Science Foundation's Division of Earth Sciences, which funded the research.
The scientists divided their study area into three geographic and socio-political subregions: New England; the Middle Colonies; and the Chesapeake. They then looked at the ways in which physical variables--such as soil, vegetation, and climate--combined with socio-political factors to influence each subregion's hydrologic environment.
In New England, for example, close-knit religious communities with strong central governments concentrated their economic efforts on fur-trading and timber extraction, according to the paper's co-authors, which include Charles Vörösmarty of the City University of New York, principal investigator on the NSF grant. Vörösmarty is formerly the director of the Water Systems Analysis Group at the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.
The Chesapeake region, on the other hand, was settled largely by young, unskilled men who cleared trees and planted tobacco fencerow to fencerow. "This caused extensive erosion, which dramatically altered rivers," Pastore says.
The Middle Colonies were characterized by diverse social, cultural, and religious traditions and feudal-style estate agriculture.
Integration of human decision-making into analyses of land-cover change, engineering and climate change is fundamental to understanding subregional hydrologic patterns and how they interact, the scientists say.
They recommend two metrics for quantifying hydrologic change.
The first, which they call a simple water balance, takes into account precipitation, evapotranspiration, and water storage, which can be used to track changes in annual river discharge. The second, termed mean water residence time, or the average time a water molecule spends in one place, can also be used to calculate the amount of water moving through a system.
The resulting information helps determine past water residence times, which in turn allow scientists to infer changes in the biogeochemistry of rivers and streams.
Many pathogens, or disease-causing organisms, are linked to water flows. An understanding of historical water residence times, says Pastore, may lead to new insights into how diseases are transmitted today.
Our colonial past may be hydrologic prologue.
Other co-authors of the paper are: Mark Green of Plymouth State University; Daniel Bain of the University of Pittsburgh; Andrea Munoz-Hernandez of the City University of New York; Jennifer Arrigo of East Carolina University; Sara Brandt of the U.S. Geological Survey in Northborough, Mass.; Jonathan Duncan of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Francesca Greco of King's College, London; Hyojin Kim of the University of California at Berkeley; Sanjiv Kumar of Purdue University; Michael Lally of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Anthony Parolari of MIT; Brian Pellerin of the U.S. Geological Survey in Sacramento, Calif.; Nira Salant of Utah State University; Adam Schlosser of MIT; and Kate Zalzal of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.
"Tapping Environmental History to Recreate America's Colonial Hydrology" http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es102672c
PHOTOS"The Lake of the Dismal Swamp," by John Gadsby Chapman, 1842.
Credit: Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University http://nsf.gov/news/mmg/media/images/hydro_history3_h.jpg"Red Mill Fall (Opposite Albany)" by William Tolman Carlton, 1847-1849.
Credit: Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society http://nsf.gov/news/mmg/media/images/hydro_history5_h.jpg"View of the Oxbow," by Henry Woodward, 1859.
Christopher Pastore | EurekAlert!
Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences