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Scientists & Staff

Ken Belt

Urban Forests, Human Health, and Environmental Quality
Hydrologist
Baltimore Field Station, 5523 Research Park Drive Suite 350
Baltimore, MD 21228
Phone: 443-543-5382
Fax: 443-543-5392
Contact Ken Belt


Current Research

My research in urban hydrology and stream ecology focuses on the interactions between small stream water quality, biogeochemistry, ecological structure and function, and the mosaic of forests and engineered infrastructure (impervious surfaces, drainage networks, water distribution systems, etc.) on and within urban landscapes. This includes (main collaborators in parenthesis):

  • The Urban Gutter Subsidy - Studies on the influence of urban drainage networks and urban tree and other vegetation on the sources, transport, and processing of particulate and dissolved organic matter, nutrients, and sediment in urban catchments. (S. Kaushal, UMCES AL; C. Swan, UMBC GES; R. Pouyat, USFS NRS)
  • Watershed 263 Urban Restoration - Studies on improvements in runoff flows, chemistry, pathogens, and temperature over the course of a major ultra urban watershed restoration and greening-out effort (B. Stack, Baltimore City DPW, R. Pouyat USFS NRS.)
  • Pathogens in Urban Streams - Studies on the survival, sources, and transport of pathogens in urban catchments, especially within the context of urban drainage networks, urban runoff dynamics, and sanitary sewerage networks. (J. Higgins & D. Shelton, USDA ARS EMSL, K. Readel, UMBC GES)
  • Thermal Fluxes in Urban Streams - Studies on the role of impervious surfaces, urban drainage networks and the built environment with respect to the modulation of thermal fluxes to urban groundwater and stormwater, and to the thermal modification of aquatic and microbial habitats in receiving streams (C. Welty, UMBC CUERE, G. Heisler, USFS NRS).
  • The Urban Water Budget - Studies of the movement of water on and within the urban landscape with particular attention to the role of urban infrastructure (water supply, storm drainage, and sanitary sewers) in altering natural hydrologic cycle functions (C. Welty, UMBC CUERE, Andrew Miller, UMBC GES).

Research Interests

  • Urban Stream Ecological Framework - Continuation of the above projects, with the integration of the data into a conceptual model (the Urban Stream Continuum Concept) integrating the urban landscape with receiving stream quality and biotic integrity (R. Pouyat, USFS NRS, S. Kaushal, UMCES AL/CBL, C. Swan, UMBC GES, P. Groffman, IES).
  • Urban Groundwater - Collaboration with UMBC CUERE to study the movement of urban groundwater and thermal fluxes as modified by engineered drainage networks; part of the NSF Urban Tes tbed Observatory Project.
  • Urban Stream Biogeochemistry - Studies of the interactions between whole stream metabolism, nutrients, metals, salt and organic matter in drainage networks and urban streams and how urban hydrology affects these processes. This work will be done through collaborations with UMCES AL/CBL (S. Kaushal), Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER (P. Groffman, L. Band), and UMBC CUERE (C. Welty, A. Miller)
  • Urban Stream OM Model - Incorporation of data from the Gutter Subsidy organic matter transport studies into the UFORE HYDRO and other runoff models, improving predictions of the effects of urban forestry practices on urban stream quality and biotic integrity.

Why This Research is Important

Urban streams are intimately connected to their landscapes through engineered drainage networks and the built environment, leading to stressed biotic communities and important water quality issues (pathogens, salt, metals, oxygen deficits, eutrophication, hydraulic scour, sediment). However urban residents are reliant on these streams for recreation, as they often occur in urban parks and recreational areas. It is therefore important to understand how they function to be able to minimize their degradation so that these resources are available to people, from public health, aesthetic, educational and recreational standpoints and so that urban environments can be properly and effectively managed. The interdisciplinary study of the modulation of terrestrial-aquatic ecological linkages by engineered drainage infrastructure will give managers and planners information that will facilitate the achievement of watershed and stream restoration goals.

Education

  • University of Maryland Baltimore County, Ph.D. Candidate Ecology,
  • Johns Hopkins University, MEE Environmental Engineering (science track), 1994
  • Johns Hopkins University, BSCE Civil Engineering (water resources conc.), 1991
  • Towson University, MS Biology (aquatic ecology concentration), 1983
  • Towson University, BS Biology, 1973

Professional Organizations

  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Water Resources Association
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Maryland Water Monitoring Council
  • North American Benthological Society

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Last updated on : 05/22/2012