Paul D. Capel

Paul Capel

Paul D. Capel

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering


Civil Engineering Building
Room 145
500 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455


  • Ph.D.,1986, University of Minnesota, Civil (Environmental) Engineering
  • M.S.C.E., 1983, University of Minnesota, Civil (Environmental) Engineering
  • B.A., 1979, Evangel College, Chemistry/Science Education

Professional Background

  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Water Resources Sciences Graduate Program, University of Minnesota, 2001–present.
  • Research Team Leader, Integrated Watershed Studies, U.S. Geological Survey, National Water Quality Project, 2012–2019.
  • Research Team Leader, Agricultural Chemicals, U.S. Geological Survey, National Water Quality Assessment Program, 2002–2012.
  • Research Chemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Water Quality, National Water Quality Assessment Program, 1989–2002.
  • Visiting Researcher, Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), Department of Chemistry, 1986–1987.
Research Interests

My major research interests focus on the behavior, transport, and fate of chemicals in the environment, particularly pesticides and nitrogen, and the importance of hydrologic flowpaths on chemical transport. Currently, the research is focused on methods to quantify the use of high-frequency water quality (sensor) data to better understand environmental processes and design sampling strategies for monitoring and research. I am also the faculty co-advisor of the student group “Engineers Without Borders” and am interested in the design and implementation drinking water projects in developing countries.

Selected Publications

Burns, D.A., Bhatt, G. Linker, L.C., Bash, J.O., Capel, P.D., and Shenk, G.W., 2021, Atmospheric nitrogen  deposition in the Chesapeake Bay watershed: A history of change, Atmospheric Environment, 251, 118277.
doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2021.118277

Berens, M.J., Capel, P.D., and Arnold, W.A., 2020, Neonicotinoid Insecticides in Surface Water, Groundwater, and Wastewater across Land Use Gradients and Potential Effects. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 40(4): 1017-1033. doi: 10.1002/etc.4959

Coupe, R.H., Thornburg, J.D., Smith, E.A. and Capel, P.D., 2020, Spatial and temporal variability in discharge and nitrate in Iowa subsurface drains. Environmental Monitoring and Assessments 192, 687. doi: 10.1007/s10661-020-08636-0

Miller, M.P., Capel, P.D., Garcia, A.M., and Ator, S.W., 2019, Response of Nitrogen Loading to the Chesapeake Bay to Source Reduction and Land Use Change Scenarios: A SPARROW‐Informed Analysis. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 14 November 2019. doi: 10.1111/1752-1688.12807

Burns, D.A., Pellerin, B.A., Miller, M.P., Capel, P.D., Tesoriero, A.J, and Duncan, J.M., 2019, Monitoring the riverine pulse: Applying high‐frequency nitrate data to advance integrative understanding of biogeochemical and hydrological processes, WIREs Water, 16 April 2019. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1348

Capel, P.D., McCarthy, K.A., Coupe, R.H., Grey, K.M., Amenumey, S.E., Baker, N.T., and Johnson, R.L., 2018, Agriculture—A river runs through it—The connections between agriculture and water quality: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1433. doi: 10.3133/cir1433

Capel, P.D., Wolock, D.M., Coupe, R.H., and Roth, J.L., 2018, A conceptual framework for effectively anticipating water-quality changes resulting from changes in agricultural activities: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5095. doi: 10.3133/sir20175095

Smith, E. A. and Capel, P.D., 2018, Specific Conductance as a Tracer of Preferential Flow in a Subsurface-Drained Field. Vadose Zone J. 17:170206. doi: 10.2136/vzj2017.11.0206

Rose, C.E., Coupe, R.C., Capel, P.D., and Webb, R.M.T., 2018, Holistic assessment of occurrence and fate of metolachlor within environmental compartments of agricultural watersheds, Science of the Total Environment, 612: 708-719. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.154

Terziotti, Silvia, Capel, P.D., Tesoriero, A.J., Hopple, J.A., and Kronholm, S.C., 2017, Estimates of nitrate loads and yields from groundwater to streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed based on land use and geology: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2017–5160, 20 p.,

Burns, D.A., Miller, M.A., Pellerin, B.A., and Capel, P.D., 2016, Patterns of diel variation in nitrate concentrations in the Potomac River, Freshwater Science, 35(4): 1117-1132. doi: 10.1086/688777

Kronholm, S.C., Capel, P.D., and Terziotti, S., 2016, Statistically extracted fundamental watershed variables for estimating the loads of total nitrogen in small streams, Environmental Modeling and Assessment, doi: 10.1007/s10666-016-9525-3

Miller, M.P., Tesoriero, A.J., Capel, P.D., Pellerin, B.A., Hyer, K.E., and Burns, D.A., 2016, Quantifying watershed-scale groundwater loading and in-stream fate of nitrate using high-frequency water quality data, Water Resource Research, 15(1): 330–347. doi: 10.1002/2015WR017753

Coupe, R. H. and Capel, P. D., 2015. Trends in pesticide use on soybean, corn and cotton since the introduction of major genetically modified crops in the United States, Pesticide Management Science. doi: 10.1002/ps.4082