Assessing the cumulative effect of the weather variability on wetlands and the hydrological connection between wetlands and downstream waters

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 11:50 AM
In-Young Yeo1, Megan W Lang2, Sangchul Lee3, Gregory Mccarty2, Yi Peng4 and Chengquan Huang1, (1)University of Maryland, College Park, MD, United States, (2)USDA-ARS, Silver Spring, MD, United States, (3)University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD, United States, (4)University of Nebraska-Lincoln, College Park, MD, United States
Wetlands are crucial ecosystem features that provide important ecological benefits to improve water quality and reduce the climate change impact. This ecosystem functioning of wetlands is largely dependent upon their hydrological characteristics and linkage to the downstream waters. However, the cumulative impacts of the climate on wetlands and the hydrological connection between wetlands and downstream waters have been rarely quantified at the landscape scale. This study reports findings from time series satellite observation that can illustrate the changes in extent of wetland inundation at a high spatial resolution (30-m) over the period 1985-2010. This remote sensing based observation provides crucial information to gain insights onto inter-annual variability of inundation dynamics, and we analyze this product with the drought indices, streamflows, the USFS NWI-hydrologic modifier. This study focuses on natural palustrine wetlands, densely distributed in the coastal plain of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CBW). We observe inundation patterns change in response to the weather variability, and it is proportionally related to the downstream flow discharge. While those wetlands with a longer hydro-period (i.e., permanently ponded wetlands during the growing season) show the strongest relationship with stream discharge (including baseflow, contributed from the shallow groundwater), inundation patterns of headwater/isolated wetlands are also strongly related to stream discharge. It shows the strong relationship between wetlands and downstream water regardless of geographic isolation and their mutual reliance on groundwater. The study provides the support for the conservation of wetlands through section 404 of the Clean Water Act.