Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Synthetic Historic Hydrology: Putting the Long in Long-Term Catchment Research
Bain, Daniel
Co-Authors: N/A
Abstract: While the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) has a strong foundation of scholarly work reconstructing historical conditions, our understanding of baseline or even pre-stream gauge hydrology remains limited. The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) has established a “synthesis center” at the City University of New York charged with the “500 year challenge.” This task includes building our understanding of 400 years of human history in the Northeastern United States and the associated, accumulated hydrologic impacts. This information will then be used to improve our ability to predict how hydrologic systems will behave over the next 100 years, thereby improving our ability to manage water resources. This presentation utilizes colonial era engineering records in the Gwynns Falls watershed (GFW) to examine our assumptions about basic hydrologic characteristics in the spirit of this 500 year challenge. As the GFW will soon be one of the most densely (hydrologically) instrumented urban watersheds, this fundamental historic knowledge is essential to inferring process from the rich data set soon to emerge. Likewise, as we reconstruct historic hydrologic conditions, the historic data generated by BES scientists will provide important ancillary constraints, essential to improving the accuracy of these reconstructions. Understanding the historic changes in water fluxes and the associated human response to said changes is fundamental to urban ecology and the science questions underlying the Baltimore Ecosystem Study.