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US, Canadian researchers to study watersheds

Fredericton, Canada: Prof Brigitte Leblon and Prof Armand LaRocque, from University of New Brunswick, are teaming up with United States researchers to tackle cross-border environmental issues, a million-dollar project funded by NASA.

It is the first time that the US and Canadian researchers will work together on a project that affects the region’s natural resources. The team will study three major watersheds in New Brunswick and Maine: The Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers, the Penobscot and St. John Rivers, and the Gulf of Maine.

Researchers will use NASA and Canadian RADARSAT-1/2 satellite imagery to examine how water, carbon and nutrients are moving through forested and agricultural lands, as well as wetlands, into the rivers and the coastal marine environment.

“We want to understand how these materials are changing in quantity and quality through river transport and interaction with the coastal ocean currents,” said Leblon, an expert in photo-interpretation. “This will have broader impacts on socially relevant issues like ground fisheries and harmful algal blooms known as red tides.”

The models created using satellite images will be calibrated using samples from the field to make sure projections are as accurate as possible.

Leblon said she hopes the project will provide better information and tools for policy-makers to properly manage watersheds that flow through both the countries.

The research team also includes scientists from the US Geological Survey (USGS), Yale University, Michigan Tech and Bowdoin College with research specialties including terrestrial and ocean remote sensing, GIS, aquatic biogeochemistry, hydrology and carbon isotope analysis.

The project has received a three-year USD1.1 million grant under NASA’s Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science programme.

Source: telegraphjournal