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Friday, March 21, 2014

2014 No.4 NH LoVoTECS Newsletter

Where were you on the mornings of May 14th, June 11th and July 16th, 2013? If you are a NH LoVoTECS sensor host more than likely you spent a portion of your morning at the site of your sensors collecting for the statewide “Snapshot” event. Water samples were collected between 7:00am and 4:00pm at active LoVoTECS sites for a total of 233 samples, representing about 79 sites per sampling event. Preliminary results are discussed in our March 2014 Newsletter, accessed via the link: March, 2014 NH LoVoTECS Newsletter Analytes of the Snapshot event and their significance to include them in the analysis are listed below.

Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Sulfate, Nitrate, which are the major contributors to electrical conductivity.
Dissolved Organic Carbon & Nitrogen
An important condition of water chemistry, significant to metal transport and generally to aquatic ecosystems.
A major factor for aquatic ecosystem health. Often algal is limited by phosphorus availability.
Water Isotopes
Oxygen 18, Oxygen 16. This helps in identifying water sources.
Silicon dioxide is another factor for aquatic ecosystem health, also higher levels of silicon dioxide are typically found in groundwater due to the weathering of rocks and sand.
Ammonia is the preferred nitrogen-containing nutrient for plant growth.
Water Isotopes
Oxygen 18, Oxygen 16, which are helpful in identifying water sources.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

New Introduction and Welcome Video available

Hi Everyone,

After the teacher workshop in August, we decided to create a welcome video for new partners and for educators that do not have sensors. We hope that it provides sufficient background information on the network and explains our use and focus on electrical conductivity. Please watch and feel free to share!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Babbling Brook

I had the pleasure of attending a Public Lab event last weekend, and through that found out about a great water quality art installation in Massachusetts. It is a water quality sensor that tweets and tells bad jokes about its recent measurements.

The artist is Catherine D'Ignazio. She is part of a movement to include art in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) = STEAM.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Plymouth Area 1st Science Brew Café Draws Standing Room Only Crowd (Despite Red Sox Playoff Game!) Guest Blog by June Hammond Rowan

October 16th, 2013 by June
Mark Green, Ashley Hyde, and Errin Volitis explain their research at Plymouth's 1st Science Brew Cafe

Plymouth’s first Science Café was held on October 15 at Biederman’s Deli and Pub. Even though the Red Sox were playing an important post-season game, over fifty people, including community members and PSU students, came to learn about science in an informal setting.
The topic on tap for the first Science Brew Café was “Sensing New Hampshire’s Streams and Rivers.” Hydrologist and assistant professor Mark Green gave an overview of a research project using 200 sensors at 100 sites to study water quality and flow. The sensors collect information on conductivity, temperature and stage every 5 to 15 minutes year round creating a large volume of data. Conductivity serves as a measure of water quality and stage relates to the flow and amount of water in the rivers and streams.    Errin Volitis, a research technician working on the project, talked about her work coordinating the installation of the sensors and training volunteers to help with the project. The sensors are hosted by volunteers and organizations around New Hampshire and each has a specific research question which the data from the sensors will help to address. Ashley Hyde, a graduate student in Environmental Science and Policy, explained how the data are also being used by school teachers and students at all levels throughout the state to give them experience in understanding their local environment and data analysis.
Standing Room Only at Science Brew Cafe

Science Cafés take place all over the globe with the goal of bringing science and scientists into a community in a casual setting.  Please see for more information.  New Hampshire recently formed a Science Café Coalition  The State currently has ongoing Cafés in Portsmouth, Nashua, and Lebanon.
The Plymouth Science Brew Café was organized by assistant professor Shannon Rogers and Plymouth State University’s Center for the Environment. Thank you Biederman’s for hosting the event and also to the presenters. Support for this event was also provided by NHEPSCoR and the National Science Foundation.
Additional Science Brew Cafés will be organized in the future. Please contact the Center for the Environment at or for more information.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Developed Landscapes and Water Specific Conductance

Now that we are up and running, we can look across our many sites for relationships between watershed attributes and specific conductance (SC). Here, we have calculated the median SC for ~60 sites in our network during the April 1 to June 30, 2013 period, and relate them to watershed forest cover, developed land, and road density. These results are similar to other studies from the region (Daley et al., 2009, Trowbridge et al., 2010, Kelting et al., 2012) which have shown how roads and parking lots drive water SC. The tightness of this relationship should allow us to predict, at broad scales, the impact of watershed development on water salinization and its consequences.

Thank you to our partners and staff for building such a great data set that is allowing us to understand water quality like this.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hydrologic Resilience of Temperate Forests

Please see this writeup in our sister blog about my time in Japan:

Comparing such distant landscapes to ours allows for a new perspective on how to best manage our forests and water.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

“Splash into Science” was exactly what students did during their Kids On Campus program in Keene two weeks ago. Steve Hale and I were fortunate enough to facilitate 11 middle school students during the week long session based on the LoVoTECS network data. Students learned how to define a watershed and several ways to assess water quality. Campers battled mosquitoes and lugged sledge hammers, waders, specific conductance meters, PVC housing, rebar and other equipment out to our site on the Ashuelot River to deploy a set of HOBO data loggers. Like the LoVoTECS network, sensors we set to collect temperature, electric conductivity (EC) and water pressure measurements at 3 minute increments. Macroinvertebrates were also collected in buckets and brought back to the classroom for classification. The faces of damselfly larva shocked students at first glance under the dissecting microscopes. The data from macroinvertebrate inventory was combined with the sensor data in order to draw a general conclusion of the Ashuelot’s quality of water. To the students’ surprise, EC levels were hundreds of mircosiemens lower than their predictions. In order to solidify the concept of how humans influence water quality within watersheds, students participated in a water pollution and land cover graphing activity with Skittles as well as Watershed Bingo. My favorite activity of the week was a concept analysis of the term “watershed.” On the first day of camp, prior to any ground-laying conversations, students were asked to draw a watershed. A majority of them drew an image of a shed with some sort of pipe system inside. On the last day of camp, students were asked to draw a watershed again. This time, their drawings included rivers, tributaries, and mountains along the perimeter, farms, factories, roads and bridges. It was clear that all students had a solid understanding of how to define the term. The students showed off their new vocabulary and summarized their findings by creating posters for a poster session for their parents and guardians. It was really neat to see the students articulate what they had learned during the week. We are working on packaging this week-long curriculum so it may be used in future camps or classroom settings.