This project will incorporate data products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to enable SPARROW to produce assessments every season and annually, instead of every five years.

Geographic Focus

New England and the Chesapeake Bay Watersheds, and six regions - Northeast Atlantic, Southeast and Eastern Gulf, Lower Mississippi, Western Gulf, Upper Mississippi and Great Lakes, Missouri, and Northwest Coastal

Application Readiness Level


Project Team

Anne Nolin (Oregon State U.), Qingyuan Zhang (UMD/GEST), Richard Smith (USGS), Jhih-Shyang Shih (Resources for the Future), Mr. John Brakebill, Geographer, US Geological Survey, Ms. Anne Hoos, Hydrologist, US Geological Survey, Dr. Richard Moore, Hydrologist, US Geological Survey
Dr. Dale Robertson, Research Hydrologist, US Geological Survey

Collaborators & Stakeholders

Dr. Greg Schwarz, Economist, US Geological Survey
Mr. Richard Alexander, Research Hydrologist, US Geological Survey Abstract

Technical Summary

This research will use Earth observations data to improve the temporal accuracy and total cost-effectiveness of a widely used tool for water quality management and policy. The tool, SPAtially Referenced Regressions On Watershed Attributes (SPARROW), is a watershed model that plays a central role in the US Water Quality Assessment Program. A national-scale model and two regional-scale SPARROW models are operating (New England and the Chesapeake Bay Watersheds) and six regional models are under construction (Northeast Atlantic, Southeast and Eastern Gulf, Lower Mississippi, Western Gulf, Upper Mississippi and Great Lakes, Missouri, and Northwest Coastal). Federal and state officials use SPARROW results to characterize water quality in watersheds, track the quantities of contaminants entering estuaries, and establish the relative importance of different pollution sources.

This project will incorporate data products from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to enable SPARROW to produce assessments every season and annually, instead of every five years. Given the rapidity with which water quality is changing -- for example, due to ethanol-based biofuels production and other changes in land use -- improved temporal accuracy is critically important. The project will also evaluate the enhanced SPARROW in supporting significantly more cost-effective water management strategies.

The interdisciplinary project team involves Resources for the Future, Oregon State University, the Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center, and the US Geological Survey. Organizations endorsing the project include the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and Michigan Sea Grant. This research directly supports NASA Strategic Plan Subgoal 3A and the NASA Applied Sciences Program objectives to address "improving water quality assessment capability at the federal, regional, state and local levels such as the National Water Quality Assessment Program" and to apply Earth observations to problems of biofuels and climate.