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Water Resources of the Caribbean

Investigation of Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) in the Luquillo Mountains, Puerto Rico

Period of Project: Oct 1990 through present

Field Location: Eastern Puerto Rico (Luquillo Experimental Forest and the Rio Grande de Loiza basin)

Photo - View of a tropical mountain stream with lush vegitation at stream banks.  Click for larger photo

Photo - View of a tropical mountain stream with lush vegitation at stream banks. Click for larger photo

The USGS-funded WEBB program is aimed at improving understanding of processes controlling terrestrial water, energy, and biogeochemical fluxes, their interactions, and their relations to climatic variables; and the ability to predict continental water, energy, and biogeochemical budgets over a range of spatial and temporal scales (Lins, 1994, Hirsch, 1998). The Luquillo WEBB research project is a cooperative effort led by USGS Caribbean Water Science Center and USGS National Research Program researchers. Other WEBB research sites are located in Colorado, Georgia, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

The Luquillo WEBB research project is presently calculating water, energy, carbon, nutrient, dissolved-constituent, and sediment (suspended and bed load) budgets in four watersheds located in eastern Puerto Rico. Two of the watersheds are in tropical rain forest in the Luquillo Experimental Forest (LEF), an 11,300 hectare forest preserve administered by the U.S Forest Service. Two additional watersheds are located in the agriculturally-developed and partially urbanized Rio Grande de Loiza basin. See location map. The four watersheds are being compared and contrasted according to dominant land use (forested versus developed) and lithology (intrusive bedrock versus volcaniclastic bedrock) Click here to see watershed photographs . The sites are instrumented with streamflow, meteorological, soil, and ground-water monitoring and sampling equipment. Some of the principal study objectives are the comparison of chemical weathering, erosion, and mass wasting processes in an environment with a history of anthropogenic modification and periodic extreme hydrologic events associated with the passage of hurricanes. Luquillo WEBB publications describe a variety of topics including watershed-scale water and sediment budgets, surface runoff, hillslope processes and sources of fluvial sediment, slopewash, soil creep, tree throw, and landsliding. In addition, budgets of all aqueous constituents are being developed.The Luquillo WEBB project welcomes interested researchers and has collaborated with university and government scientists as well as graduate and undergraduate students from the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Further details regarding volunteering with the Luquillo WEBB project are available through the internet.

The LEF is the site of a National Science Foundation funded Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program as well. Additional information about the LEF can be found through the U.S. Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry and at the University of Puerto Rico Institute for Tropical Ecosystem Studies.

For additional information, please contact Earl Greene, USGS WEBB program coordinator, at 703-648-5048, or via email at: eagreene@usgs.gov.

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