Tuesday, 13 January 2009: 9:00 AM
Exploration of Hydrologic Dynamics during the Colonial Era in the Northeastern United States
Room 121A (Phoenix Convention Center)
We are addressing the emerging view that humans are today embedded into the basic character of the water cycle through a myriad of processes including land cover change, water engineering projects, and climate alteration. Thus, our primary goal is to quantify the widespread alteration of hydrologic systems over local-to-regional domains focusing on the Northeast corridor of the United States over a 500-yr period (1600 to 2100). Our initial effort to understand the state of the Northeast hydrologic system included an intensive synthesis of existing historical information regarding deforestation practices, beaver hunting, mill dam construction, wetland drainage, and existing data and proxies regarding climate. Our results suggested that water residence time on the landscape shifted towards shorter residence time in response to European human activity. The shift was of a similar magnitude as the variability of water residence time due to natural inter-annual variability of precipitation. Our analysis provides a glimpse into the possible impact of European humans on the historical hydrologic cycle of the Northeast U.S.