Keeping track of groundwater and surface water hydrology requires a comprehensive monitoring system and some sharp minds to analyze the data. New software from the U.S. Geological Survey aims to make that job a little easier.
The USGS recently released the Groundwater Toolbox, a graphical and mapping software interface designed to streamline hydrological data analyses. Built on open-source software and analysis methods developed by the USGS and Bureau of Reclamation, the Groundwater Toolbox automatically aggregates data from more than 26,000 streamgage sites throughout the U.S.
Users of the new USGS software can draw from streamflow, groundwater levels and precipitation data to estimate various components of a watershed’s water budget, including base flow, runoff, groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration, among other parameters.
While other programs exist that perform similar functions as the Groundwater Toolbox, the new software suite is the first to combine the capabilities of many of these programs, creating an all-in-one, single-format solution for users that can be easily maintained by the USGS. The Toolbox offers seven of the most popular hydrograph-analysis methods, according to a comprehensive USGS report on the software.
A map view allows users to study U.S. waterways alongside political boundaries, such as state and county lines, and compare streamgage sites in reference to major roadways, which can impact runoff and water quality. While the Groundwater Toolbox is accessible to the public — and designed to be intuitive to any user — the USGS suggests its biggest user base will consist of academics, engineers and all levels of government agencies.
The Groundwater Toolbox runs on Microsoft Windows operating systems. Anyone interested in studying water availability or the effects of land-use on hydrologic trends can download the software at the link above.
Top image: Over 26,000 USGS streamgage stations like this one provide data to the Groundwater Toolbox. (Credit: Michael Pereckas, via Flickr/CC BY 2.0)