As a National Estuarine Research Reserve, we are participating in an ongoing national effort to better understand short-term variability and long-term change in estuarine ecosystems. One way we are addressing this is to generate time series data for important physical factors that influence life in estuaries. As part of the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), each reserve collects information on local water quality and weather. Using data loggers, water quality factors such as water temperature, salinity, and dissolved oxygen are measured every thirty minutes, and weather parameters such as air temperature, humidity, wind speed, and wind direction are measured continuously. Nutrient sampling is also conducted monthly. In addition, the Reserve’s Educational Water Quality Monitoring Laboratory uses volunteers to study bacterial contamination of estuarine waters, demonstrating one way in which the education and research missions of the Reserve can be linked.
Pacific Estuarine Research Labotory (PERL) at SDSU is in charge of conducting the monitoring at the reserve. The weather station is situated west of the Visitor’s Center, and we are collecting water quality and nutrient data from four sites in the reserve. These include the tidal linkage, the model marsh, Oneonta Slough, and the main channel. For water quality, data loggers are placed at each site and retrieved two weeks later for downloading of stored information. This data is then sent back to the NERRS Central Data Management Office, where they process the information and put it on the NERRS website. You can check out past data for this and other reserves at http://cdmo.baruch.sc.edu/.