Variation in freshwater input to the Eastern US coastal ecosystem

Monday, 15 December 2014
Dongmei Feng1, Yeosang Yoon1, Edward Beighley II1, Randall Hughes2 and David Kimbro2, (1)Northeastern University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Boston, MA, United States, (2)Northeastern University, Marine Science Center, Boston, MA, United States
Phragmites is one of the most invasive plants in North American wetlands. Although its spread in coastal marshes has been linked by independent studies to urbanization, eutrophication, and salinity change, there is good evidence that these factors may interactively determine invasion success and in turn, the ecosystem services provided by marshes. We hypothesize that the invasion of Phragmites is linked to changes in freshwater inputs due to climate and/or land use change. El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), originating in the sea surface temperature anomalies (warm or cold) in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, is a notable and prominent signal in inter-annual climatic variation. Recent studies shows that the probability of strong El Nino events may increase in the future. In this study, we will investigate the teleconnections between freshwater inputs to the coastal zone along the eastern U.S. and ENSO indices, and attempt to explore the predictability of temporal and spatial variation of freshwater inputs based on ENSO conditions. To quantify changes in freshwater input in this region, hydrologic modeling, remote sensing and field measurements are combined. The Hillslope River Routing (HRR) model is used to simulate hourly streamflow from all watersheds from southern Florida to northern Maine draining into the Atlantic Ocean. The modeling effort utilizes satellite precipitation (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Product 3B42v7: 2001-current with a 3-hr temporal resolution and 0.25 degree spatial resolution), land surface temperature and vegetation measures (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, products: 2001-current with a monthly temporal resolution and 0.05 degree spatial resolution). To account for land cover change, annual MODIS land cover data and time varying population statics are merged to estimate annual land cover characteristics for each sub-catchment within the study region. Static datasets for soils and ground elevations are used. Daily U.S. Geological Survey streamflow data from major river outlets along the coastline are used for model validation. Annual streamflow is characterized in terms of volume of export to the ocean: as total flow, storm flow and baseflow and used to explore longitudinal discharge patterns along the coastline.