The Center’s hydrology and water quality research program is designed to address important issues in forested landscapes, focusing on the low-gradient systems typical of the coastal plain, using both the monitoring and modeling approaches.
The primary research is being conducted on long-term experimental watersheds at Santee Experimental Forest in South Carolina. The gauged watersheds, two first order streams (WS-77, WS-80), a second order system (WS-79) and a third order stream, Turkey Creek (WS-78), comprise a network providing a scaled hydrology and ecosystem monitoring framework.
Cooperative research is the foundation for the work on the Santee watersheds, it also provides the basis for addressing other hydrogeomorphic settings. The Center is collaborating with North Carolina State University at Weyerhaeuser’s long-term managed pine plantation forests at Carteret County in eastern North Carolina complements the hydrologic and water quality studies related with effects of intensive forest management for timber production and most recently the effects of switchgrass, as an alternative biofuel, inter-planted between pine trees.
The primary models and modeling tools being developed/applied using the long-term data for hydrology and water quality impact assessments are DRAINMOD, MIKESHE, DNDC, and SWAT. The applications of this work address the full spectrum of hydrologic resource issues in the southeastern United States, ranging from assistance for management decisions and monitoring assessments on the National Forest to addressing questions associated with urbanization, climate change and land use.
The long-term data is readily available, and it provides an excellent reference for comparison with more intensively managed forests and/or protection and restoration of developed watersheds in the coastal plain, or for assessing allowable loading for receiving waters.