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Welcome to the App Aqua webpage!

The Appalachian Aquatic Science Research Team takes an interdisciplinary approach to better unerstand the complex human-environmental interactions affecting water resources in the Southern Appalachian headwaters. 

The AppAqua cluster has developed a high resolution geospatial database for the Upper South Fork of the New River (USFNR) watershed as part of a long-term water quality monitoring program.  One of the overall goals of this research is to study the long-term spatial relationships between land cover change and water quality in the USFNR watershed. One of the primary funded projects currently underway in the USFNR watershed is investigating how to improve water conservation in headwater streams through socio-biophysical analysis. Our multidisciplinary team is investigating the feasibility of developing an innovative, interdisciplinary model to identify optimal locations for riparian buffer (stream bank vegetation) conservation measures on healthy headwater streams in the watershed. The development of this model requires integrating methods and data from physical (hydro-geomorphic), biologic, and social sciences.

The location of the USFNR watershed is the headwaters of the South Fork of the New River in Watauga County in the northern mountains of western North Carolina. The USFNR watershed includes the towns of Boone and Blowing Rock. The elevation ranges from 942 meters to 1427 meters in the 80 square kilometer watershed. The watershed is unique as it represents a dynamic headwater catchment with pristine portions (e.g., supporting native brook trout populations), one stream listed as impaired, and an expanding urban environment. According to the 2000-2010 U.S. Census, Watauga County has experienced a 20% growth rate. Formerly forested areas have seen a marked increase in the amount of impervious surfaces as a result of development. These development driven land cover alterations potentially represent a significant threat to the water quality of the headwaters of the USFNR which is a designated a National Heritage and Nat’l Wild and Scenic River.

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AppAqua Mission StatementPDF47.65 KB