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Environmental Monitoring

Altamaha River water quality lab (Jack Sandow)
Jack Sandow in the GCE Altamaha River Water Quality Lab
(photo courtesy of Jack Sandow,
Altamaha Riverkeeper organization)


We have established an environmental monitoring network to map spatial and temporal variability and mean values of key environmental factors throughout the GCE study area.  This network is composed of independent monitoring stations operated by the GCE program and stations operated in collaboration with other programs and agencies (UGA Marine Institute, SINERR program, and USGS).  Availability and use of GCE monitoring data is described on the Data Access page.

Data from additional monitoring resources is also regularly acquired and used to extend the temporal and spatial scale of GCE observations, including the National Data Buoy Center's Gray's Reef buoy, Georgia Rivers LMER data, and National Weather Service records for Sapelo Island.

Maps displaying the locations of all ongoing GCE-LTER monitoring activities are available on the Monitoring Sites Map page. Coordinates for all monitoring sites can also be viewed in various formats using the GCE Geographic Database query page.

Climate Monitoring

We record continuous measurements of key atmospheric parameters to characterize atmospheric forcing and climatic variability at locations across the GCE study area.  Parameters measured at most sites include temperature, wind speed, wind direction, precipitation, relative humidity, solar radiation and barometric pressure.

Maps and information about climate stations and parameters measured are available on the Climate Monitoring page. Geographic coordinates for climate stations are also available in the GCE Geographic Database.

Sounds and Tidal Creek Monitoring

We record continuous measurements of salinity and temperature at fixed monitoring sites across the GCE study domain. We also perform quarterly transect surveys in Sapelo Sound, Doboy Sound and the Altamaha River and Sound to characterize horizontal and vertical distribution of temperature, salinity and other physical and chemical properties in relation to tidal state.  Data analysis is focused on characterizing the distribution across the study area of mean properties of water and their variability spectra.

Maps and additional information are available on the sounds and creek monitoring page and the oceanographic survey transects page. Geographic coordinates for hydrographic data logger deployments are also available in the GCE Geographic Database.

Altamaha River Monitoring

We record periodic measurements of dissolved and particulate constituents in Altamaha river water entering the study area.  Water quality in Altamaha tributaries is also monitored to relate composite water quality at the head of tide to differences in geology and human activities in different areas of the watershed.

Geographic coordinates for water quality monitoring sites are available in the GCE Geographic Database.


We record estimated fluxes of fresh water and dissolved constituents from the surficial aquifer into adjacent marshes and estuarine channels. We also compare the quantity and water quality of freshwater emanating from developed versus undeveloped areas, and examine the effects of tidal pumping on groundwater salinity distributions.  (Groundwater study sites and hydrological and geophysical methodology are described on Dr. Carolyn Ruppel's web site).

Geographic coordinates for hydrological wells within the GCE study area are also available in the GCE Geographic Database.


We periodically conduct sediment geochemistry studies and analyses of angiosperms, benthic microalgae, invertebrates, and fungi to characterize marsh productivity and community structures. These studies are primarily conducted near permanent plots established at GCE study areas GCE1-GCE10.

Marsh Sediments

In July 2001 Sediment Erosion Tables were installed at GCE study areas GCE1-GCE10 to study the combined effect sediment deposition and in situ organic matter accumulation on marsh accretion and subsidence. This project is described on the Marsh Sediment Dynamics page.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.