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Challenge #1: How does a changing coastal watershed impact coastal waters?


Whatever occurs on land impacts the sea.

Rivers originate in higher elevations and follow down the path of least resistance until freshwater collides with the sea. It is often challenging to link data between inland river systems and ocean and produce integrated research conclusions that demonstrate how a changing watershed impacts coastal waters.

As an acute example, consider the Charles River Watershed. Multiple decades of effort have yielded a much healthier river that has gone from pop song lore (for its pollution content) to swimmable.

How can we observe the implications of a cleaner watershed on coastal waters? On the land, we have data from the USGS National Water Information System, which is a robust government monitoring system. Despite its robustness, there are gaps that the Charles River Watershed Association monitoring data, which over the last decade has given us a complimentary data record of the health of the Charles River Watershed. At the coast, we have data from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which monitors Boston Harbor - the mouth of the Charles River.

It can be difficult to connect the datasets and determine correlation between what occurs in a watershed and what happens in coastal waters. Citizen scientists like the Charles River Watershed Association often produce multiple years of monitoring data, but it can be difficult to demonstrate why the data are useful. Your mission is to connect these datasets and to demonstrate how the health of the Charles River watershed - and the coast waters at its mouth - have changed over time.

Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI)
Data Sets and Tools
CUAHSI Hydroclient
Contains USGS NWIS, CRWA, and MWRA data sets
USGS Web Service (WSDL)
CRWA Web Service (WSDL)
MWRA Web Service (WSDL)