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Brent T Aulenbach

Brent started with the USGS in 1992 and is a Research Hydrologist for the South Atlantic Water Science Center, Norcross, Ga. He is the principal investigator on a research study looking at the effects of seasonally water-limited conditions on the water cycle in the Southeastern U.S. He also responsible for interpretive work for several urban water-quality studies in the metro-Atlanta region.

Current Responsibilities:

Brent is the principal investigator of the research study “Actual evapotranspiration, flash droughts, water deficits, reduced vegetative growth, and wildfires ­— the effects of seasonally water-limited conditions in a changing climate” (2019–2023), funded by the Ecosystems Mission Area, Climate Research and Development Program. The purpose of this study is to quantify the effects of climate and climatic change on seasonally water-limited catchments in the Southeastern U.S. Water-limited catchments are sensitive to droughts, that result in reduced groundwater recharge, evapotranspiration, and water deficits that can have adverse effects on trees, such as carbon starvation and hydraulic failure, and can result in wildfires. The study includes field estimates of groundwater recharge and actual evapotranspiration at the Panola Mountain Research Watershed (PMRW), in Stockbridge, Ga., and compares water cycle component estimates to other monitored watersheds in the Southeastern U.S.

Brent also works on several urban water-quality studies of streams in the metro-Atlanta region, funded through the USGS cooperative projects with local partners. The main purpose of these studies is to assess the status and trends in water-quality and relate these to land use. 

Areas of Interest:

Brent’s interests in small watershed research studies include investigating hydrological and biogeochemical processes that control the movement and solute composition of water along hydrologic pathways that generate streamflow and quantifying and predicting the effects of climate and climatic change on these processes. Much of this research has been performed at the PMRW, which was part of the Water, Energy and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) Program (1991–2016) study of five diverse catchments.

Brent also has expertise in estimating streamwater constituent loads. He has developed methodology and techniques for improving streamwater load estimates and for identifying trends in concentrations and loads, and has optimized sampling designs. He was responsible for method design, estimation, and reporting of streamwater constituent fluxes and trends for the USGS’s National Stream Quality Accounting Network (NASQAN), which monitors the water quality of U.S.’s large rivers, from 1998 to 2013.