Groundwater Influence in Shenandoah National Park

Introduction Big Run Hazel River Hughes River Jeremy's Run Meadow Run Paine Run Piney River Staunton River White Oak Canyon
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Sun Over Old Rag

Anglers and ecologists have long recognized that fish habitat depends in part on groundwater moving into the stream channel. In the summer, groundwater provides cooling zones for fish to escape the warmest temperatures. In the winter, groundwater provides warming zones that facilitate egg development and juvenile growth.

The Science

This webmap presents results from a study providing a new approach for groundwater assessment at multiple locations within stream networks. The method is based on statistical relationships between air temperature, stream temperature, precipitation, and landform features that control groundwater movement. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Water Resources Research.

Major Findings and Implications

  • The effects of shallow groundwater on stream temperature can be predicted based on surface terrain and precipitation information.

  • The importance of groundwater varies extensively within watersheds and from year-to-year.

  • These results can assist climate-change forecasts and inform restoration planning for brook trout habitat.

  • Get Publication
  • Get Data and Metadata

The Maps

The webmap is organized by tabs for each of 9 study watersheds in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, USA. In each tab, color-coded points indicate the relative importance of groundwater on stream temperature scaled from 0-100%. A slider bar allows you to inspect results from multiple years (2012-2015) to see a main result of the study: the effects of groundwater are more stable over time in some places than others.

Credits

This webmap was created by D.R. Strong and C.C. Ladino based on research by Z.C. Johnson, C.D. Snyder, and N.P. Hitt at the USGS Leetown Science Center. Support was provided by the USGS Fisheries and Environments Programs, USGS Natural Resources Preservation Program, USGS Postdoctoral Research Program, and USGS Chesapeake Bay studies.

Contacts

For more information on the study, contact Zachary Johnson (zcjohnsonpubs@gmail.com), Craig Snyder (csnyder@usgs.gov), or Than Hitt (nhitt@usgs.gov). For more information on ecological research in Shenandoah National Park, contact Jalyn Cummings (jalyn_cummings@nps.gov) or Jim Schaberl (jim_schaberl@nps.gov).

Big Run is located in the southwestern portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 81 on Skyline Drive).

Big Run is one of four watersheds in the Park where precipitation was a stronger predictor of groundwater influence than landform features (the other three watersheds are Piney River, Hazel Run, and Paine Run).

Sites in these watersheds typically show a stronger effect of groundwater when winter-spring precipitation is high and summer precipitation is low.

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Hazel River is located in the east-central portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 33 on Skyline Drive).

Hazel River is one of four watersheds in the Park where precipitation was a stronger predictor of groundwater influence than landform features (the other three watersheds are Piney River, Paine Run, and Big Run).

Sites in these watersheds typically show a stronger effect of groundwater when winter-spring precipitation is high and summer precipitation is low.

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Hughes River is located in the east-central portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 38 on Skyline Drive) and is well-known as one of the best streams for brook trout angling in the Park.

Fish

Hughes River is one of three watersheds in the Park where groundwater effects were explained more by landform features than by precipitation (the other two watersheds are Jeremy's Run and White Oak Canyon Run).

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Jeremy's Run is located in the northwestern portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 23 on Skyline Drive).

Jeremy's Run is one of three watersheds in the Park where groundwater effects were explained more by landform features than by precipitation (the other two watersheds are White Oak Canyon Run and Hughes River).

Note the strong effects of groundwater within localized stream sections.

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Meadow Run is located in the southwestern portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 83 on Skyline Drive).

Meadow Run is one of two watersheds in the Park where groundwater effects were nearly equally explained by landform features and precipitation (the other watershed is the Staunton River).

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Paine Run is located in the southwestern portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 87 on Skyline Drive).

Paine Run is one of four watersheds in the Park where precipitation was a stronger predictor of groundwater influence than landform features (the other three watersheds are Piney River, Hazel River, and Big Run).

Sites in these watershed typically show a stronger effect of groundwater when winter-spring precipitation is high and summer precipitation is low.

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Piney River is located in the northeastern portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 22 on Skyline Drive).

Piney River is one of four watersheds in the Park where precipitation was a stronger predictor of groundwater influence than landform features (the other three watersheds are Paine Run, Hazel River, and Big Run).

Sites in these watershed typically show a stronger effect of groundwater when winter-spring precipitation is high and summer precipitation is low.

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Staunton River is located in the east-central portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 54 on Skyline Drive). A major flood scoured sections of the river channel in 1995. Read More

Flood

Staunton River is one of two watersheds in the Park where groundwater effects were nearly equally explained by landform features and precipitation (the other watershed is the Meadow Run).

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White Oak Canyon Run is located in the east-central portion of Shenandoah National Park (trailhead near mile 42 on Skyline Drive) and is well-known for a series of large waterfalls.

Waterfall

White Oak Canyon Run is one of three watersheds in the Park where groundwater effects were explained more by landform features than by precipitation (the other two watersheds are Jeremy's Run and Hughes River).

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