Today I saw this mallard drake trying to swim upstream along the banks of the river near campus. The lovely sunny weather warmed the air to a pleasant 58°F (14 °C) and it was wonderful to hear the birds. The water temperatures the past week have been hovering around 44°F (6.7°C). Last year at this time water temperatures were twice as warm - 52.2°F (11.4 °C)!
Discharge this week on the West Branch has been relatively steady, but lower than usual, averaging around 9 million gallons per day (gpd), which if you look online at the USGS gage is 13,900 cubic feet per second (cfs). The average discharge for this time of year is over twice that amount - 29,500 cfs.
That means there is half as much water as usual and the river is twice as cold as last year!
As for the aquatic life? You can’t see it from the surface, but there is a lot activity on in the river bed, as temperatures, light levels, and other seasonal changes are bringing millions of mayfly, caddis fly, and stonefly species out of their winter burrows in the river bottom. Dissolved oxygen levels have been steady - around 14 mg/L - and saturated , which is no surprise given the time of year.
Other information for the curious: barometric pressure was 29.35, humidity = 17%, and winds WNW at 14 mph. Flow depth = 1.6 to 2.0 m, water temp = 5.87 °C, specific conductance = 175 μS/cm, pH = 9.1, ORP = 253 mV, turbidity = 1.7 NTU, and chlorophyll = 4.0 μg/L.
It’s a good time to pull your boats and paddling gear out of winter storage and get ready to get out on the river!
The Susquehanna River is a major watershed in the United States and in some contexts, the world. It is the lifeline of the Chesapeake Bay and source of water and energy for millions of humans and fuels major agriculture, hydropower, mining, petroleum, and industrial economies. Food, timber, natural gas, coal, and manufactured products from this area are consumed by every one of its citizens and exported great distances across our world.
When viewed from above - such as in the October 2011 photo below of the Bucknell campus, the town of Lewisburg, and the West Branch - one is reminded that WE LIVE AND MAKE OUR BEING CONNECTED TO THE RIVER. Our homes, our work, our wealth, our history, and indeed our very future are intertwined with this precious watershed.
Teaching and scholarly research conducted by Bucknell faculty and students is contributing to the science and engineering tools necessary to develop new solutions to 21st century watershed sustainability problems, not only within the Susquehanna watershed but throughout the world.
The Susquehanna River Initiative is devoted to presenting its data, its models, and its findings to the broader academic and professional community, as well as to federal, state and local regulatory agencies and watershed groups, to help ensure water quality and availability within the Susquehanna watershed and protect human and ecosystem health of the river and the Chesapeake Bay.
Eight Susquehanna River Initiative summer research interns from the departments of environmental studies, biology, geology, and civil and environmental engineering are partnering with Dr. Matthew McTammany (photo below), Dr. R. Craig Kochel, Dr. Jessica T. Newlin, Dr. Benjamin R. Hayes and aquatic biologist Sean P. Reese to conduct research on the Susquehanna River.
Their studies are part of our continued assessment of the river’s water quality, its macroinvertebrate and mussel communities, fluvial processes and flooding, and the river channel morphology and natural history. Most of the data collection is focused on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River and several of its tributaries.
As usual, field conditions have not been easy - high temperatures, high water levels, dangerous flow hydraulics, poison ivy, biting flies, and equipment complexities - but the students are enthusiastic and have proven themselves to be “Bison tough.” Seriously, everyone is having a great time, collecting lots of new data, testing new research hypotheses, and contributing to the River Initiative’s scientific and engineering studies of the Susquehanna.
Data collection and hydraulic modeling will continue through July and August. The students will present their findings as scientific research posters at the 7th Annual Susquehanna River Symposium, October 12 and 13, 2012 on the campus of Bucknell University.
“Susquehanna - River of Dreams" by Susan Stranahan is available at the campus bookstore. You’ll enjoy reading the preface and first chapter before class begins. We’ll be visiting many of the sites she writes about in this book and you’ll have an opportunity to journal yourself!.
"Messages from Frank’s Landing," the text for the Pacific Northwest half of this course are not available from the publisher.
Our 21-day adventure on the Susquehanna begins on Monday morning at 8 am! Check your emails for a copy of the packing checklist (in case you can’t locate your paper copy) and on-campus housing information. Pick up dorm keys from Public Safety after 8 am on Sunday. The “Susquehanna - River of Dreams” textbook by Susan Stranahan are available at the campus bookstore downtown.
"Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of all things? Throw a stone into the stream, and the circles that propagate themselves are the beautiful type of all influence."