Summer Time, Excel, and the Study Site

Entering the third week of research on our Riparian Buffer project, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what we’ve been up to.  To begin our work depends on rain.  Specifically, enough rain to make a stream off a Charles City County, VA farm field flow.  Along the stream we have datalogging equipment that records flow height, rainfall, and takes water samples.  The last storm that triggered the channel was on April 16th this year, so since then we’ve been running geochemistry on the samples, analyzing the flow heights, and doing comparisons to storms from last year.  This has involved a healthy serving of excel for graphing, and doing calculations of, for example, total sediment that passed through the channel during the April storm.

Below is our setup in the field.  In this image the channel is dry, but all the equipment is visible.  The sonic sensor monitors flow height by bouncing sound waves off the water.  The datalogger records the flow height from the sonic sensor and triggers the ISCO to start taking water samples once the flow has reached a certain height.  If we are there during flow we can take extra samples and record flow height using the stage as a double check on the ISCO and sonic sensor.

We ran geochemistry tests on the water samples from the April storm to look at phosphorus, cations, and Anions.  Phosphorus, Potassium, and Nitrogen (in ammonium, nitrate, and nitrite form) are three main areas of geochemical interest for my project because they are nutrients.  Particularly, N, P and K are nutrients included in almost all industrial fertilizers.

I’ll update y’all as we do more analysis and compare the April storm to last summer’s storms.  Until then, Ciao faithful readers.