Mission Areas

National Research Program

Programs L2 Landing Page

The USGS National Research Program (NRP), part of the USGS Water Mission Area, conducts research to develop and disseminate science-based information and tools needed for a fundamental understanding of the processes that affect the availability, movement, and quality of the Nation’s water resources. 

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NRP Scientists

NRP Scientists

NRP scientists conduct research on a wide range of topics to gain a better understanding of the processes that affect the Nation’s water resources.

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NRP Laboratories

NRP Laboratories

The National Research Program has a wide range of laboratories which support both USGS scientists and external partners.

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NRP Resources

The National Research Program provides many other scientific resources:

NRP Publications

Data and Long-Term Monitoring

Modeling Software

Scientific Tools

NRP Patents

News

Image: Old Faithful Erupting
May 10, 2017

Despite two centuries of scientific study, basic questions persist about geysers—why do they exist? What determines their behavior?

Hydrologic Regions of Alaska
April 14, 2017

While freshwater ecosystems cover only a small amount of the land surface in Alaska, they transport and emit a significant amount of carbon, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. An invited feature article for Ecological Applications provides the first-ever major aquatic carbon flux assessment for the entire state. Carbon flux refers to the rate of carbon transfer between pools.

Pie Diagram for Sulfur Showing Standard and Conventional Atomic Weight
March 7, 2017

The new table includes both standard and conventional atomic weights values to clarify that many atomic weights have natural variation and to provide single values for chemical education use

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The Little Missouri River, flood plain
August 30, 2017

Aquatic Systems Branch scientists analyze rings of riparian trees relating tree growth and establishment to historical flow. We then use the tree rings to reconstruct the flow in past centuries. Flow reconstructions discover the frequency and magnitude of past droughts and floods—information that is essential for management of rivers and water supplies. We...

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June 29, 2016

Objectives: Investigate sediment transport processes associated with our changing landscape. Research includes understanding bank erosion, bed-martial movement and development of bed-material and sediment fluxes. Methods are being developed for relating measured parameters of physical roughness to hydraulic roughness based on turbulence.

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Understand the causes of harmful algal blooms (HABs), their links to the climate system and human fertilization of lakes and coastal waters, and their economic, ecological and human-health consequences. Understand the link between the nutrient cycling and HABs and develop guidelines for the use of stable isotope techniques for determining the dominant N and P sources that trigger...

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Enhance and apply improved statistical tools for analysis of long term trends in surface water flow and quality; Provide transparent, communicable, and defensible methods to enhance the planning and decision-making ability of water planners, hydraulic engineers, regulators, and managers under change.

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June 22, 2016

Objective: Leverage information in the National streamgage network to address data gaps in streamflow.

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Understand & quantify climatic and hydrologic causes, predictability and consequences of floods; Build, test, apply and distribute state-of-the-art inundation models for USGS and OFA use that include sediment movement; Develop remote sensing methods for measuring flood extent and surface water velocities during large flood events.

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Characterize selected volcanic hydrothermal systems; Characterize chemistry of waters and gases discharging in volcanic areas and from geothermal systems, in part, to better predict volcanic unrest.

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Develop large-eddy computational models; Conduct lab experiments using laser-Doppler & particle image velocimetry; Repeat imaging of mobile bedforms with hyperspectral imaging and surface velocity measurements; Conduct laser scanning of bed grains combined with large-eddy modeling to infer hydraulic roughness; Conduct studies measuring sediment ages and fluxes, and human...

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Build, test, apply and distribute state-of-the-art surface-water models for predicting flooding and river channel dynamics and estuarine ecosystem dynamics; Link hydrodynamic, climate, watershed, water quality, and ecological models to assess long-term ecosystem response to future scenarios of change (climate, earthquake, management) to better manage the San Francisco Bay-Delta (...

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Improve predictions of post-wildfire flash flooding and water-quality impairment; Provide guidance to water providers and land-management agencies to plan for post-wildfire problems; Understand how vegetation changes affect wildfire regimes.

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Determine geomorphic and ecological processes on floodplains and stream-side wetlands relevant to environmental improvement and water quality; Understand sedimentary processes and linked vegetation patterns that bind stored sediment, enhance sediment deposition, structure biogeochemical pathways, govern natural water-quality functions, and facilitate environmental restoration.

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June 22, 2016

Objectives: Determine the detailed coupling between sediment motion and near-bed fluid flow, including the effects of turbulence
Predict the behavior of bedforms and associated roughness effects in unsteady flows
Improve modeling capabilities for bank erosion including vegetation effects
Use remote sensing to track bars, bedforms and other landforms and thereby estimate bed-...

The USGS has been a leader in the development of hydrologic and geochemical simulation models since the 1960's. USGS models are widely used to predict responses of hydrologic systems to changing stresses, such as increases in precipitation or ground-water pumping rates, as well as to predict the fate and movement of solutes and contaminants in water. 

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Graphical output of HYDROTHERM showing permiability of tsunami brecca as a function of distance from an impact crater.
August 30, 2016

The HYDROTHERM computer program simulates multi-phase ground-water flow and associated thermal energy transport in three dimensions. It can handle high fluid pressures, up to 1 x 10^9 Pa (104 atm), and high temperatures, up to 1,200 °C. 

Screenshot of GAMACTT web application.
June 29, 2016

The USGS Groundwater Age Mixtures and Contaminant Trends Tool can be used to explore the effects of basic aquifer properties and well configurations on groundwater age mixtures in groundwater discharge and on contaminant trends from varying nonpoint-source contaminant input scenarios.

Screenshot of TracerLPM graphs.
June 29, 2016

TracerLPM is an interactive Excel workbook program used to evaluate groundwater age distributions from environmental tracer data by using lumped parameter models (LPMs).

Choptank River near Greensboro, MD Orthophosphate, mg/L as P Estimated Concentration Surface in Color.
June 29, 2016

Exploration and Graphics for RivEr Trends (EGRET) is an R-package for the analysis of long-term changes in water quality and streamflow, including the water-quality method Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS).

Screenshot from VS2DI.
June 29, 2016

The VS2DI package contains all the tools that a user needs to create, run, and view results for a simulation of flow and transport through variably saturated porous media.

Screenshot from PHREEQC.
June 29, 2016

PHREEQC is a general purpose geochemical model for reactions in water and between water and rocks and sediments.

Delineation of hydrologic response units of a hypothetical watershed.
June 29, 2016

The Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) is a deterministic, distributed-parameter, physical process based modeling system developed to evaluate the response of various combinations of climate and land use on streamflow and general watershed hydrology.

Steady-flow head distribution plot from PHAST.
June 28, 2016

PHAST is a 3D groundwater flow and solute transport model that has extensive capabilities to simulate water-rock and biogeochemical reactions that include all of the reactions available in PHREEQC.

Screenshot from ModelMuse.
June 28, 2016

ModelMuse is a graphical user interface (GUI) for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) models MODFLOW-2005, MODFLOW-LGR, MODFLOW-NWT, MODPATH, ZONEBUDGET, and PHAST and for MT3DMS. 

Screenshot from MD_SWMS.
June 28, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Multi-Dimensional Surface-Water Modeling System (MD_SWMS) is a pre- and post-processing application for computational models of surface-water hydraulics.

Screenshot from The Global Climate Change Viewer (GCCV).
June 28, 2016

The Global Climate Change Viewer (GCCV) is used to visualize future temperature and precipitation changes simulated by global climate models.

GSFLOW screenshot showing hydraulic conductivity values used in ground-water model, Sagehen Creek watershed near Truckee, CA
June 28, 2016

Ground-water and Surface-water FLOW (GSFLOW) is used to simulate coupled ground-water and surface-water resources.

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two men standing near a well. Truck-mounted rig and well head visible.
2016 (approx.)

JJ Thordsen (USGS) and a wireline operator retrieving downhole vacuum sampler from a characterization well near a CO2 injection well at Citronelle oil field, Alabama.

December 1, 2016

Presents descriptions of the USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) Surface-Runoff modules, which compute Hortonian surface runoff, soil infiltration, and impervious surface and surface depression storage and flows.
 

January 29, 2016

Presents descriptions of the USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) Soilzone module.
 

January 29, 2016

Presents descriptions of the USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) streamflow routing modules.
 

January 29, 2016

Presents descriptions of the USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) Summary modules.
 

January 29, 2016

Presents descriptions of the USGS Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) cascading-flow computation option, which allows for reinfiltration across the land surface, shallow subsurface, and saturated zone
 

erupting geyser with rainbow in midground. tall trees in background
2014 (approx.)

eruption of Lone Star Geyser, Yellowstone National Park

broad open valley, surrounded by mountains, with multiple wisps of steam coming out of the ground at several scattered locations
October 6, 2014

Upper Geyser Basin at El Tatio Geyser Field, Chile

built-up base of minerals around a geyser
2012 (approx.)

Geyser cone in the El Tatio geyser field, Chile

looking over a broad open valley with two geysers erupting in the mid-ground.
August 20, 2008

Great Geysir (left) and Strokker Geyser (right) in Iceland

Moutain Diablo in the early morning
2004 (approx.)

Picturesque view of Mt.Diablo early in the morning from Suisun Marsh.

Water quality sampling using a Niskin sampler from the Research Vessel Polaris at sunset on San Francisco Bay.
2003 (approx.)

USGS conducts water quality sampling to describe changes in water quality along the deep channel of the San Francisco Bay-Delta system. Sampling includes continuious sampling and discrete sampling. Here a water discrete water sample is collected using a Niskin sampler at sunset in north San Francisco Bay.

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Image: Old Faithful Erupting
May 10, 2017

Despite two centuries of scientific study, basic questions persist about geysers—why do they exist? What determines their behavior?

Hydrologic Regions of Alaska
April 14, 2017

While freshwater ecosystems cover only a small amount of the land surface in Alaska, they transport and emit a significant amount of carbon, according to new U.S. Geological Survey research. An invited feature article for Ecological Applications provides the first-ever major aquatic carbon flux assessment for the entire state. Carbon flux refers to the rate of carbon transfer between pools.

Pie Diagram for Sulfur Showing Standard and Conventional Atomic Weight
March 7, 2017

The new table includes both standard and conventional atomic weights values to clarify that many atomic weights have natural variation and to provide single values for chemical education use

Ariel photo of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta
September 20, 2016

New research from the U.S. Geological Survey and partners illustrates how climate change is perceived among different generations of indigenous residents in subarctic Alaska. While all subjects agreed climate change is occurring, the older participants observed more overall changes than the younger demographic.

two men standing near a well. Truck-mounted rig and well head visible.
August 29, 2016

TECHNICAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Monitoring, verification and accounting are key parts to demonstrating the feasibility or success of integrated carbon capture and storage technologies.

Four numbered sample jars containing brownish water and small snails in a laboratory connected to tubes and electronic meter.
August 4, 2016

To gain insights into the risks associated with uranium mining and processing, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are investigating how uranium moves into and up food chains.

Permafrost area, Beaver Creek, Alaska.
June 20, 2016

The thawing of the planet’s permafrost is replumbing arctic environments, creating several hydrologic consequences and possibly some opportunities according to a new study published in Vadose Zone.