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Designing a high-frequency nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring network for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California

July 11, 2017

Executive Summary

This report is the third in a series of three reports that provide information about how high-frequency (HF) nutrient monitoring may be used to assess nutrient inputs and dynamics in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, California (Delta). The purpose of this report is to provide the background, principles, and considerations for designing an HF nutrient-monitoring network for the Delta to address high-priority, nutrient-management questions. The report starts with discussion of the high-priority management questions to be addressed, continues through discussion of the questions and considerations that place demands and constraints on network design, discusses the principles applicable to network design, and concludes with the presentation of three example nutrient-monitoring network designs for the Delta. For three example network designs, we assess how they would address high-priority questions that have been identified by the Delta Regional Monitoring Program (Delta Regional Monitoring Program Technical Advisory Committee, 2015).

This report, along with the other two reports of this series (Kraus and others, 2017; Downing and others, 2017), was drafted in cooperation with the Delta Regional Monitoring Program to help scientists, managers, and planners understand how HF data improve our understanding of nutrient sources and sinks, drivers, and effects in the Delta. The first report in the series (Kraus and others, 2017) provides an introduction to the reasons for and fundamental concepts behind using HF monitoring measurements, including a brief summary of nutrient status and trends in the Delta and an extensive literature review showing how and where other research and monitoring programs have used HF monitoring to improve our understanding of nutrient cycling. The report covers the various technologies available for HF nutrient monitoring and presents the different ways HF monitoring instrumentation may be used for both fixed station and spatial assessments. Finally, it presents numerous examples of how HF measurements are currently (2017) being used in the Delta to examine how nutrients and nutrient cycling are related to aquatic habitat conditions.

The second report in the series (Downing and others, 2017) summarizes information about HF nutrient and associated biogeochemical monitoring in the north Delta. The report synthesizes data available from the nutrient and water quality monitoring network currently (2017) operated by the U.S. Geological Survey in this ecologically important region of the Delta. In the report, we present and discuss the available data at various timescales—first at the monthly, seasonal, and inter-annual timescales; and, second, for comparison, at the tidal and event timescales. As expected, we determined that there is substantial variability in nitrate concentrations at short timescales, such as within a few hours, but also significant variability at longer timescales such as months or years. This high variability affects calculation of fluxes and loads, indicating that HF monitoring is necessary for understanding and assessing flux-based processes and outcomes in Delta tidal environments.

Publication Year 2017
Title Designing a high-frequency nutrient and biogeochemical monitoring network for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, northern California
DOI 10.3133/sir20175058
Authors Brian A. Bergamaschi, Bryan D. Downing, Tamara E.C. Kraus, Brian A. Pellerin
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2017-5058
Index ID sir20175058
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization California Water Science Center