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October 17, 2019

RSPARROW, now available on the USGS GitLab repository, provides the first open-source version of the USGS SPARROW water-quality model, with new features that improve the utility of the model for conducting studies of contaminants in surface waters and informing water resource management decisions.

RSPARROW extends the capabilities of the current proprietary SAS SPARROW version and streamlines user and R developer access to SPARROW modelling technology.

New features include a user-friendly interactive mapping interface that automatically enables a Decision Support System (DSS) for evaluating the effects of user-proposed changes in contaminant sources on downstream water quality. The mapper’s visualization features allow users to easily access and display SPARROW model predictions, DSS outcomes, and geospatial data by stream reach, catchment, and monitoring site locations. Predictions include the mean annual load, yield, and flow-weighted concentration, and the shares of the load attributable to individual sources and delivered to downstream water bodies.

RSPARROW is a system of open-source R scripts and functions for executing and evaluating SPARROW models that generates graphical, map, and tabular output. Users operate the system within RStudio from a single control script that accesses the supporting input files and functions. Only minimal knowledge of R is required to use the system.

RSPARROW supports user-developed SPARROW models, and includes a previously published regional model as a tutorial to allow users to explore the RSPARROW features.

Additional features include new diagnostic plots, maps, and model prediction metrics as well as documentation of the system design elements, which provides an informative guide for experienced R users and developers to support the use of SPARROW methods in multi-modeling approaches and collaborative development of shareable functions.

Citation for the release:  Alexander, Richard B., and Gorman Sanisaca, Lillian. (2019). RSPARROW: An R system for SPARROW modeling [Software release]. U.S. Geological Survey. DOI: 

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