Additional Participants

Technician, Programmer

Joseph Karem
Tracey Walls

Organizational Partners

USDA Forest Service - Northeastern Forest Experiment Station
US Geological Survey
International Paper
Institute for Ecosystems Studies
University Louis Pasteur
Duke University
Syracuse University
University of New Hampshire
Department of Interior National Park Service
University of California-Santa Barbara
Plymouth State University
Czech Geological Survey

Project Period

September 15, 2002-August 31, 2008

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



The Bear Brook Watershed in Maine (BBWM) is a long-term paired, forested watershed research site with each watershed drained by a first order stream through a v-notch weir. One watershed (West Bear) has been treated bimonthly for 12 years with N and S by aerial helicopter applications, with the second watershed (East Bear) serving as the reference watershed. The objectives of this LTREB proposal are to:

1. Study the response of the calibrated East Bear Watershed to long-term patterns of ambient S, N, and base cation deposition. This will be accomplished by maintaining high quality deposition and stream export data from the reference watershed in support of research on ecosystem processes and change over time funded by this project and others.

2. Study the temporal progression of N saturation at the West Bear Watershed. This will be accomplished by continuing the decadal-scale whole ecosystem N & S addition experiment ongoing at the West Bear Watershed.

3. Determine if a definable relationship exists between short and longer-term climate and the biogeochemical and hydrologic processes currently under study at both watersheds. This will be accomplished by establishing an air and soil temperature measurement program across major ecosystem compartments at BBWM. Studies will focus on the relationships between temperature, N dynamics (mineralization, nitrification), and surface water N export in both the reference and treated watersheds, and we will evaluate the efficacy of using heat units to predict ecosystem behavior with respect to these processes.

4. Provide support to strengthen the data management efforts at the BBWM, thereby making this long-term record more accessible to the scientific community with an interpretive interface to be used by educators and policy makers through an expansive web presence. A major emphasis of this LTREB proposal is the development of a layered web presence on the BBWM project that provides access to data and highlights for policy makers, educators and researchers.

5. Provide support for graduate student training and undergraduate student experiences in research.

Findings from this research have proven to be turnkey to date in regional and national debates on the effects of acid deposition and the risk of N saturation to forests and surface waters of New England. The compelling justification for supporting the long-term program of research at BBWM is that changes in response to changing ambient deposition of N and S (East Bear), long-term chemical manipulations (West Bear), and seasonal and inter-annual climate variation after 11+ years are showing mechanisms of response that were not discernable within the first 2-3 years of the study. These long-term mechanisms of response are frequently overlooked when research is conducted on short-term funding cycles. The long-term and unique responses being investigated at BBWM will be critical for adequately assessing policy and management options regarding air pollution and climate change in the 21st century.

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