Our department has a long and distinguished role in watershed science. We’re building watershed management knowledge in order to increase resilience of water quantity and quality threatened by climate change, development, and more.

The climate is changing, increasing the frequency and severity of floods and droughts. Precipitation intensity and interstorm durations are increasing beyond the bounds of our existing infrastructure and management strategies. Managing watersheds to increase water quantity and quality resilience to changing climate and land use, fire, and biological invasions is an emerging frontier in the department. Our department has a long and distinguished role in watershed science and we are building new interdisciplinary connections that examine the resilience of watershed functions affecting the quantity and quality of water across the Commonwealth and beyond. 

Advanced green stormwater infrastructure that can both mitigate flooding and store water to maintain baseflow during droughts is a central challenge for increasing watershed resilience. Shifts in land use such as energy extraction, intensive agriculture, and urbanization have stressed aquatic ecosystems. Developing an optimal and cost-effective portfolio of watershed management includes considering social values and economic assessments, addressing legacy nutrients, and developing spatially targeted strategies for forested riparian buffers, cover crops, and stormwater control measures.

Key research topics in this signature area include critical zone science, watershed hydrology, ecohydrology, soil physics, hydropedology, and limnology. Key infrastructure includes the Leading Ridge Experimental Watersheds, and Long-Term Agricultural Research Watersheds of Spring Creek, Conewago Creek, and Mahantango Creek operated by the USDA-ARS and affiliate faculty members.

Faculty Working in this Area

Researchers in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management working in the area of Watershed Resilience.