Assessing and Projecting Stream Patterns in Hydrogeomorphology in Low-Elevation Watersheds, Pitt County, North Carolina, USA

Matthew Engfer head shot

Name: Matthew Engfer
Majors: Environmental Geoscience, Environment & Society
Advisors: Vibhor Agarwal, Carlo Moreno

Patterns of hydrology within streams provide vital information about the health of stream ecosystems and the drinking water quality for humans. Small, low-elevation streams are especially important to study because they account for large amounts of sediment that are deposited into streams, rivers, and eventually the ocean. A metric that is relevant to studying smaller streams is baseflow, the component of shallow groundwater recharge to streams that sustains streams during extended dry periods. When assessing what causes fluctuations of baseflow, there are two components: the natural physiographic setting of the stream system and land cover of the stream’s watershed. This study particularly measures incision, the vertically deepening of streams, and watershed land cover type (as percentages of total area) in addition to streamflow to understand what effect natural and anthropogenic factors have on stream hydrology. The findings of the study indicated that forested land cover and incised stream channels trended with a decrease in baseflow, but each condition occurred independently. In this study, an ArcGIS Suitability Model was generated to project groundwater recharge generation across Pitt County, North Carolina, so that it might aid city planners and engineers with future stream restoration practices. The outputs of the model suggest that streams closer to the city of Greenville, located in central Pitt County, have lower baseflow. This study theorizes that streams that are incised and have urbanized watersheds account for lower amounts of baseflow. The Suitability Model output for groundwater recharge generation and observed baseflow did not visually align, but nonetheless the Suitability Model could serve as an important tool in the future for policymakers because it was able to accurately disseminate patterns of higher and lower baseflow across a region.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 19, 2023.

6 responses to “Assessing and Projecting Stream Patterns in Hydrogeomorphology in Low-Elevation Watersheds, Pitt County, North Carolina, USA”

  1. Mike Engfer says:

    Great job on your I.S. Matt. I’m really proud of you.

  2. Meagen Pollock says:

    I’m proud of you, too, Matt! Must have been fun doing field work and GIS on this project. How awesome you could put your skills to work to better understand hazards in your community. Well done!

  3. Shelley Judge says:

    Great job, Matt. I really like how you incorporated the use of GIS (which you learned in class) into your research — but then even took it to new heights.

  4. Vibhor Agarwal says:

    I really like the initiative you took in implementing what you learnt in the class and making such an amazing IS. A lot of discipline in visiting the writing center constantly and getting an amazing IS.

  5. Mark Graham says:

    Hey Matt — This really interesting work. Thanks for doing it and for sharing it here!

  6. Mary Neagoy says:

    Congrats on your IS, Matt. I really enjoyed your poster. Wishing you the best in your next chapter.