Hydrologic Forecasting for Characterization of Non-linear Response of Freshwater Wetlands to Climatic and Land Use Change in the Susquehanna River Basin

EPA Grant Number: R833013
Title: Hydrologic Forecasting for Characterization of Non-linear Response of Freshwater Wetlands to Climatic and Land Use Change in the Susquehanna River Basin
Investigators: Wardrop, Denice Heller , Brooks, Robert P. , Dressler, Kevin , Duffy, Christopher , Easterling, William Ewart , Najjar, Raymond , Ready, Richard C , Shortle, James S.
Institution: Pennsylvania State University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: April 20, 2007 through April 19, 2011
Project Amount: $899,656
RFA: Nonlinear Responses to Global Change in Linked Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems and Effects of Multiple Factors on Terrestrial Ecosystems: A Joint Research Solicitation- EPA, DOE (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Global Climate Change , Ecosystems , Climate Change


To characterize nonlinear responses to global climate change in linked aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through (1) Selection of a linked terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem that provides critical ecosystem services and ecological functions, (2) Characterization of various global change scenarios, incorporating both climate and land cover, and a method of assessing their effect on the identified ecosystem through the primary forcing factor of hydrology (both alone and in conjunction with other human-associated stressors), (3) Identification of potential nonlinear ecological responses (sensu Scheffer et al., 2002) in the selected ecosystem as a result of these changes, and (4) Estimation of the resultant change in ecosystem services on a watershed and Basin-wide scale in the Susquehanna River Basin.


Our general approach to investigating the response of freshwater wetlands to climatic and land use change is based on tools and products of four previous EPA-STAR grants, and involves the following series of activities:

  1. Develop scenarios of climate and land cover change, operating on a scale of decades, relevant to the Susquehanna River Basin (SRB).
  2. Using these scenarios, in conjunction with a coupled surface-ground water model, develop a number of predictive hydrologic scenarios for a collection of 11-digit HUC watersheds representing a range of human-associated land uses in the SRB.
  3. Characterize the relationships between hydrologic and landcover parameters and ecosystem characteristics and services in wetlands of various types in the SRB, focusing on those with preliminary evidence of non-linearity and/or thresholds.
  4. Utilize the predicted hydrologic scenarios to forecast changes in ecosystem services across the entire Susquehanna River Basin, clearly identifying where and when non-linearities and/or thresholds in response occur, utilizing a series of unique statistical tools to develop a probability surface.

Expected Results:

We will develop a unique analytical method for prediction of climate and land cover change impacts, incorporating the forecasting of hydrologic conditions, which can be used to identify thresholds and non-linearities in the functional performance of freshwater wetlands. Any set of hydrologic/land cover change conditions can then be placed upon the probability surface, allowing the statistical model to be used in a predictive fashion. The method could be applied to a wide variety of aquatic ecosystems for which state changes occur over either a spatial and temporal extent, or both.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

freshwater wetlands, Susquehanna River Basin, hydrogeomorphic,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Monitoring/Modeling, Regional/Scaling, Environmental Monitoring, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecological Risk Assessment, Atmosphere, coastal ecosystem, biodiversity, ecosystem assessment, environmental measurement, meteorology, aquatic species vulnerability, climate, global change, anthropogenic, greenhouse gases, climate models, UV radiation, environmental stress, water quality, coastal ecosystems, climate model, ecological models, atmospheric chemistry, climate variability, Global Climate Change, land use, regional anthropogenic stresses

Relevant Websites:

NCER News Article
Hydrologic Forecasting for Characterization of Nonlinear Response of Freshwater Wetlands to Climatic and Land Use Change in the Susquehanna River Basin (PDF) (1 pp, 15 K)

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007 Progress Report
  • 2008 Progress Report
  • 2009 Progress Report
  • Final Report