The Robinson Forest environmental monitoring network: Long-term evaluation of streamflow and precipitation quantity and stream-water and bulk deposition chemistry in eastern Kentucky watersheds

Kenton L. Sena, Tanja N. Williamson, Christopher D. Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The University of Kentucky (U KY) has owned Robinson Forest (37.460723° N, 83.158598° W) since 1923, conducting experiments crucial to understanding the environmental effects of land management in the region. Part of the management of Robinson Forest has been collection of environmental data, including precipitation quantity, bulk-deposition chemistry, streamflow, stream-water chemistry, and air and stream temperature. Over the years, these data have been collected and archived using various technologies and have been mostly inaccessible for research use – unedited and uncompiled, scattered across several spreadsheets and paper records. Through a partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U KY, daily precipitation data for six stations and stream data from four watersheds in Robinson Forest have been compiled for 1971–2018, checked for transcription errors, and annotated for changes in methodologies. These data are available as a USGS data release at https://doi.org/10.5066/P9FPLG1O. Improved accessibility of this data set provides an important research resource for understanding water quality in minimally effected forests in the region. Preliminary results indicate that these data present a valuable opportunity to evaluate linkages among atmospheric deposition and stream chemistry, the effects of environmental policy, such as the Clean Air Act, and effects from nearby land disturbance in the form of surface mining. Furthermore, these data fill a geographic and physiographic gap in what is available to examine deposition and streamflow patterns over the last 45 years, supplementing those long-term records of research sites in northern (e.g., Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest), central (e.g., Fernow Experimental Forest) and southern Appalachia (e.g., Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory). As an oasis in the midst of significant surface mining activity, Robinson Forest presents a unique opportunity to understand environmental conditions characteristic of minimally disturbed forests similar to pre-mining conditions in the Central Appalachian region.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14133
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Keywords

  • climate change
  • forest hydrology
  • nitrate
  • precipitation chemistry
  • stream-water quality
  • streamflow
  • sulphate
  • surface coal mining
  • water temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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