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How will forest ecosystems and hydrologic processes in the Delaware River Basin be affected by climate change and land cover change?

Our purpose is to explore how the multiple stressors of climate change and land use/land cover (LULC) change will alter hydrologic systems and forest ecosystems in the Delaware River Basin (DRB). To accomplish this purpose, our goal is to construct a basin-wide coupled modeling framework that builds on four existing models: a land use/land cover change model under development with funding from the William Penn Foundation (WPF) (C.A. Jantz et al. 2015), a gridded basin-wide hydrologic water budget model (Hawkins 2015), the HEC-HMS rainfall-runoff model, and a suite of distribution models for 40 eastern U.S. tree species (P.A. Jantz et al. in press). As a basin-wide study (Figure 1), this research will generate consistent, high-resolution, gridded data sets, thus providing improved understanding of the regional manifestations of climate and land use changes, a critical starting point for any coordinated adaptive management effort.

This project is supported through the Delaware Watershed Research Fund (DWRF), a new opportunity for research funding intended to complement the broader watershed protection work of the William Penn Foundation. The DWRF will build on the goals of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative (DRWI) to ensure water quality in the Delaware Basin through restoration, protection, and monitoring of watersheds.

A land cover mapping, modeling, and monitoring system for the Delaware River Basin (DRB) in support of maintaining and restoring water resources

To address the need for watershed-wide planning and coordinated restoration for the DRB, our team proposes an ambitious project comprised of three related components: 1) High resolution Lidar-based land cover mapping; 2) Development of a basin-wide land cover modeling tool; and 3) Feasibility study for long-term land cover change monitoring.

Funding for this project comes from the William Penn Foundation. The William Penn Foundation, founded in 1945 by Otto and Phoebe Haas, is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. In partnership with others, the Foundation works to advance opportunity, ensure sustainability, and enable effective solutions. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. The Foundation’s assets exceed $2.3 billion as of Nov. 30, 2014. More information about the foundation is available on its website at www.williampennfoundation.org.

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