May 1, 2012 by Bridget B.
Last week, I attended the Environmental Studies Research Senior Presentations, where three soon-to-be graduates of Dickinson College presented their research to a classroom filled with students and professors alike. I found one of the presenters, Angelo Lan, to be very interesting. He discussed the impacts that land-use changes have on stream flows of local streams, specifically the Monocacy Creek located in Northampton County, PA. This research is important because it will help asses future local urban development.
The Monocacy Creek is a small watershed and was an active USGS gauging station. Of all the water that flows from the creek, 45% is used for agriculture while only 25% is used for residential work. Lan’s research plan included building a model that would predict the stream flow of Monocacy Creek. The particular model that he used is called the Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) which is developed by the Hydrologic Engineering Center, US Army Corps of Engineering.
The data needed for the model was land-usage information, precipitation levels, stream flow, and GIS data (which includes soil types). For the land-use information, Lan used data from the past 3 years. For the precipitation levels, Lan used the gauging station in Allentown to study the water.
An important component of the research that Lan discussed is the curve number which is a critical research input. Lan tried to minimize the difference between observed flow and simulated flow by adjusting the curve number. He addressed the question of how the impact of a change in land-use will impact stream flow. In conclusion, Lan identified that there was a significant and consistent increase of residential land use with a decrease in farmland. There was also a significant difference in the terms of runoff generated from different land use. Overall, I found this presentation very interesting and informative. I enjoyed learning about an area that was so close in proximity to our school.