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Landscape level estimate of lands and waters impacted by road runoff in the Adirondack Park of New York State

Abstract

Road runoff is understood to be a significant stressor in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, yet the effects of this stressor are poorly understood at large spatial scales. We developed an efficient method for estimating the spatial impact of road runoff on lands and waters over large geographic areas and then applied our methodology to the 2.4 million ha Adirondack Park in New York State. We used TauDEM hydrologic modeling and a series of ESRI GIS processes to delineate surface flow downslope of paved roads, illustrating the potential movement of pollutants originating from paved roads through the USGS 10 m DEM topography. We then estimated the land and surface water areas, number of water bodies, and total stream length potentially impacted by road runoff from paved roads. We found that as much as 11 % of land area, 77 % of surface water area, 1/3 of the water bodies, and 52 % of stream length in the Adirondack Park may be impacted by road runoff. The high degree of hydrologic association between paved roads and the lands and waters of this region strongly suggests that the environmental impacts of road runoff should be evaluated along with other regional stressors currently being studied. Being able to estimate the spatial impact of road runoff is important for designing monitoring programs that can explicitly monitor this stressor while also providing opportunities to understand the interaction of multiple environmental stressors.

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Acknowledgments

Support for this research was provided with a grant from the Northeastern States Research Cooperative (nsrcforest.org).

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Correspondence to Daniel L. Kelting.

Appendix

Appendix

Methods

Below are detailed instructions that accompany each subsection in “Methods”.

Producing a hydrologically relevant surface

The DEMs were mosaicked into a single raster dataset using the ArcGIS data management tool “workspace to new raster dataset.” Missing cells within the mosaicked dataset were identified using the “Is Null” tool. Identified missing cells were then replaced with interpolated elevation values using a conditional statement in ArcGIS. A low pass filter was used to remove DEM artifacts and noise from the appended DEM (Gesch and Wilson 2001).

Producing road disturbance grids

The eight shapefiles (SF, C, L, and SFCL and 100 m SF, 100 m C, 100 mL, and 100 m SFCL) were converted into 10 m cell size raster datasets using the ArcGIS “polyline to new raster” tool and the “polygon to new raster” tool. The new rasters were reclassified so that roads were set to a value of 1 and non-road cells were set to a value of 0. Reclassification was necessary to create a disturbance grid input parameter for the accumulation tool. The final indicator grids were then converted to TIFF as the accumulation tool requires this file format. The disturbance grid indicates the zone of the area of substance supply (runoff) with 1 representing the zone and 0 representing the rest of the domain.

Producing input weights

The effective runoff and decay multiplier grids were created by reclassifying of one of the disturbance area grids to a constant value of 1.

Delineating overland flow grids

TauDEM’s “D-Infinity concentration limited accumulation” functionality applies to a situation where an unlimited supply of a substance is loaded at a constant concentration over the cells of a value of 1 in the disturbance grid. For this paper, road runoff was the substance, and roads were the cells with a value of 1 in the disturbance grid. All inputs were clipped to a standard size to fit the needs of the tool parameters. The outputs were eight overland flow grids representing downhill flow originating from SF, C, L, and SFCL roads. These eight outputs were clipped by the extent of the Adirondack Park boundary polygon (apa.ny.gov/gis) to retain park only overland flow.

Quantifying impacted land area

Multiplying the overland flow dataset by open water cells represented by NoData excluded the original values from the output, and multiplying by 1 retained the original values in the output. The park wide open water raster data was created by clipping a NYS hydrography shapefile of lakes and ponds (gis.ny.gov) to the Adirondack Park boundary shapefile used above and then converting the clipped shapefile into a raster dataset using the ArcGIS “polygon to new raster” tool. The new raster dataset was then reclassified so that open water was represented by NoData and land area represented by a value of 1. The cell counts in the eight no-open-water overland flow grids were found and then multiplied by the cell area (100 m2) to find the total terrestrial area impacted by road runoff. Values were reported in hectares.

Identifying impacted lakes and ponds

Total surface area (hectares) of these impacted water bodies was calculated using the calculate geometry function.

Calculating downstream length of impacted streams

Point shapefiles were created at their intersections by setting the output type in the “intersect” tool to point. The raster dataset was then reclassified so that cells represent intersection as a value of 1 and non-intersection cells as a value of 0. Input effective runoff and decay grids as well as the original D-Infinity flow direction grid were reused. The eight output flow grids were thinned using the ArcGIS “thin” tool, and flow cells over lakes and ponds were removed. Thinning accumulation rasters efficiently identifies stream channels over large geographic areas (Betz et al. 2010). This approach is aimed at sidestepping the process of using flow accumulation thresholds to identify stream channels across the entire park. We found the intersection of overland flow from roads and linear stream data was sufficient for identifying the presence of a stream. Total lengths (kilometers) of these impacted stream channels were calculated using the calculate geometry function.

Quantifying impacted land and waters in APA forest preserve lands

Forest preserve land is represented by 4 of the 15 land use types, wilderness, primitive, canoe, and wild forest. These four land use types were merged, and impacted surface waters and streams for each of the six disturbance categories within the preserve were calculated by ESRI’s Select by Location and calculate geometry functions.

Betz, R., Hitt, N. P., Dymond, R. L., & Heatwole, C. D. (2010). A method for quantifying stream network topology over large geographic extents. Journal of Spatial Hydrology, 10, 15-29.

Gesch, D., & Wilson, R. (2001). Development of a seamless multisource topographic/bathymetric elevation model of Tampa Bay. Marine Technology Society Journal, 35(4), 58-64.

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Regalado, S.A., Kelting, D.L. Landscape level estimate of lands and waters impacted by road runoff in the Adirondack Park of New York State. Environ Monit Assess 187, 510 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-015-4730-0

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Keywords

  • Road runoff
  • Road salt
  • GIS
  • TauDEM
  • Multiple environmental stressors
  • Adirondack Park