Water, energy, and biogeochemical budgets (WEBB) program: data availability and research at the Northern Temperate Lakes site, Wisconsin
More than three thousand kettle lakes, widely dispersed within a mixed temperate forest ecosystem, are predominant features of the Northern Highland area of north-central Wisconsin. A hydrological and biogeochemical investigation of seven of these lakes and their watershed area is currently in progress as part of the Water, Energy, and Biogeochemical Budgets (WEBB) program of the U.S. Geological Survey. The objectives of the overall WEBB program are to: (1) improve understanding of processes controlling water, energy, and biogeochemical fluxes in freshwater systems, the interactions among those processes, and their relations to climatic variables; and (2) improve the capability to predict freshwater, energy, and biogeochemical budgets over a range of spatial and temporal scales. The focus of the WEBB project in Wisconsin is hydrologic research in the Northern Temperate Lakes (NTL) area of the state. Based on the premise that an understanding of hydrologic and biogeochemical cycles in the watershed is predicated on a thorough understanding of the individual components that control the water flow, the project involves a detailed study of the hydrologic budget, including the roles of rainfall, streamflow, ground water, and flow in the unsaturated zone. It also involves investigation of ground-water/surface-water interactions. The objectives of the Northern Temperate Lakes WEBB project are to: (1) describe processes controlling water and solute fluxes in the NTL watersheds; (2) examine interactions among those processes and their relations to climatic variables; and (3) improve the capability to predict changes in water and solute fluxes for a range of spatial and temporal scales. A variety of procedures will be used to address the objectives of the project including: installation of piezometers, lysimeters, stream-gaging sites, precipitation collectors, climate-monitoring instruments; analysis of transport of nutrients and other solutes through the system; analysis of changes in isotopic composition of water; and temperature profiling. The implementation of these procedures is described in this report. The NTL/WEBB study area includes seven lakes that are also the site of a Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This project incorporates diverse research investigations conducted by faculty and research associates of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The research orientation of NTL/LTER is principally toward aquatic ecology and geochemistry of the lakes. The WEBB research plan, with its emphasis on hydrologic processes in the lake watersheds, is designed to complement and enhance the LTER work.