To a large degree, river water chemistry is a function of processes occurring in the river’s watershed. As a result, changes on land also lead to changes in river chemistry. Much as human health can be evaluated by analyzing blood chemistry, so too can watershed health be assessed by monitoring river water chemistry.
WHRC scientists are improving the understanding of how climate change, permafrost thaw, deforestation, and other disturbances are impacting river chemistry and land-ocean linkages.
This information is vital for tracking the health of Earth’s watersheds and for predicting how Earth’s water and chemical cycles will change in the future.
Woods Hole Research Center scientists are active in many of Earth’s largest watersheds world measuring concentrations of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other naturally occurring compounds in the rivers near their mouths where they empty into the ocean. Samples are also being collected from key tributaries upstream in the watersheds to investigate how chemical signatures vary regionally or in areas with differing land cover or land use.
Each year, the Global Rivers Observatory invites scientists, students and citizen scientists to join a research expedition on one of the world’s great rivers. From the Amazon River in Brazil to the Mekong River in Thailand participants learn firsthand about the threats to these great rivers.
Join Our E-newsletter List