A Few Graphs and Plans for the Future

 

So I’m going to be pretty bland on this last post and just give y’all a bit of summary of the things that I’ve done this summer and what still needs to be done for my thesis.

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Ground Truthing and Staying Cool

It has been HOT in the past few days and our Riparian buffer crew has been out in the field for some of them.  On Thursday and Friday we “ground truthed” the existence of channels as predicted by my partner’s GIS, geographic information systems, work.  This essentially entailed walking around a farm field and seeing if channels on the map she created matched up with real channels on the field.  We distinguished channels into four main categories.  Type 1 channels had evident flow patterns, with leaves swept away in the flow paths.  On the other end of the spectrum, type 4 channels were heavily incised, meaning that they had eroded significantly into their flow path.

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Filtering Water Samples (with our handy dandy pump)

This has been an exciting week for the Riparian buffer group!  On Friday we went out to our field site and found 13 water samples waiting for us in the ISCO autosampler.  These samples mean that we got a storm strong enough to cause our channel to flow.  Even more awesome, we have samples from the whole storm, from start to finish, so we don’t have to extrapolate concentrations of nutrients and sediment for any of the storm.  The samples also had a dark brown tinge to them, implying high levels of DOC (Dissolved Organic Carbon).  DOC comes from water contacting dead plant matter on the ground, leaves in the trees, and basically any organic matter that the water touches.

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Rating Curves in All the Right Places…

While plenty of rain has come down in Williamsburg over the past month, not enough rain has fallen on our farm to trigger flow in our stream.  As a result, we’re continuing to analyze samples from the last major flow event in April.  This is a good thing because the analysis of the April storm has turned out to be more complex than we initially anticipated.

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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.

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