Monitoring Program

wells national estuarine research reserve

The System-wide Monitoring Program (SWMP) uses the 28 reserves as reference sites for measuring short-term variability and long-term change in estuarine ecosystems and coastal watersheds. Wells Reserve staff scientists join in this national effort by continually monitoring weather, water quality, and nutrients in estuarine waters.


The Wells Reserve weather station measures temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, precipitation, and atmospheric conditions.

View near-real-time data here: Weather

Water Quality

The Wells Reserve uses seven automated dataloggers to monitor physical and chemical variables at 15-minute intervals. Measures of water quality include temperature, water depth, salinity, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.

View near-real-time data here: Water (Wells Harbor)
View near-real-time data here: Water (Merriland River)


To monitor nutrients, the Wells Reserve periodically takes samples at one automated datalogger. Samples are analyzed for ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, ortho-phosphate, and chlorophyll a.


This component of the monitoring program focuses on characterizing biotic diversity by assessing community composition, species abundance, and species distributions. Among the monitored organisms are emergent and submerged vegetation (e.g., marsh grasses, seagrasses, algae), invasive species, benthic communities, and nekton/plankton communities.

The Wells Reserve does additional biological monitoring outside the realm of SWMP. The Reserve and its partners study birds, insects, and other upland flora and fauna.

SWMP Data Management

SWMP weather, water, and nutrient data undergo quality-assurance and quality-control reviews at Wells Reserve, then are submitted to the NOAA Centralized Data Management Office, which makes them available online for researchers, coastal managers, and educators.

Current Conditions

Near real-time data from Wells Reserve stations is available at the CDMO website.

Tide predictions for Wells are available at the National Ocean Service website.