Alpine basins are sensitive indicators of climate change because of large amounts of exposed bedrock, a snowmelt dominated hydrograph, limited vegetation, and short growing seasons. My masters research at the University of Colorado (2005-2007) examined long-term trends in water chemistry at an alpine basin for the period 1982-2004, and evaluates the role of potential climate drivers causing changes in water chemistry and flowpaths. Green Lakes Valley is a municipal water source for the city of Boulder and is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Long Term Ecological Research site. The site is also part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) and adjacent to Niwot Ridge LTER. Elevations range from over 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) at the continental divide to 3,250 meters (10,660 feet) at the valley outlet. Climate, snow, groundwater, and surface water methods are all employed to collect and analyze data. Robust statistical analyses for trend testing, principle components analysis (PCA), and redundancy analysis (RDA) are completed using R-project software. Modeling techniques include End Member Mixing Analysis (EMMA), the coupled hydrobiogeochemical watershed model DAYCENT, and permafrost distribution models using GIS under simulated climate change scenarios. Results indicate a major shift towards subsurface and permafrost source waters during warm, dry years 2000-2004 that may continue with climate change. The balance between anthropogenic nitrogen sources in precipitation and varying levels of nitrate in talus/permafrost waters was also examined. Link to thesis.
Green Lakes Valley, Colorado
During the austral summer of 2005 I was part of a team of researchers investigating hydrological and biogeochemical controls on microbial diversity at hydrologic margins near streams and lakes in McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. As part of this research team, my duties included water and soil sample collection, installation of temperature logging instruments, and site surveys. My individual responsibilities incorporated GPS technology to recognize the potential topographic controls on these hydrologic systems. Preliminary groundwork indicates that moisture content, temperature, sediment size distribution and topography are all important hydrologic factors affecting the biogeochemistry and microbial diversity in these transition zones. Understanding the fluxes between these processes in a relatively simple, Antarctic environment may have beneficial implications for advancing knowledge of temperate riparian zone ecosystems. This research opportunity synthesized my recently completed undergraduate course work and built upon previous research experiences. Click here to see more information on this project.
Sampling at Lost Seal Stream, Taylor Valley, Antarctica
Another research opportunity at Toolik Lake LTER dealt with the potential effects of climate change on hyporheic zone hydrology and active layer dynamics in arctic Alaska. As part of the research team, I conducted stream solute tracer tests and measured stream flows in environments with differing geomorphology (alluvial vs. peat) to examine hyporheic zone processes. I also performed ground penetrating radar (GPR) tests, constructed thermocouples, and installed Campbell temperature loggers to monitor permafrost activity through the thaw season. A more detailed description of the project and results can be found on Dr. Mike Gooseff's web page.
Imnaviat Creek, Alaska
As an undergraduate at Utah State University, I completed field and laboratory research at Toolik Lake Long Term Ecological Research Station (LTER) in arctic Alaska during the summers of 2003 and 2004. As part of a team of scientists, I was responsible for continuing long-term data sets regarding chemical cycling and food web dynamics in arctic lakes. Additionally, I was involved with a comparative watershed study that examined landscape controls on the emergence and distribution of fish populations. Field and lab techniques employed during this research included collecting water, pelagic, benthic, and sediment samples, gillnetting, electroshocking, installing and analyzing temperature loggers, identifying, measuring and quantifying benthic and pelagic invertebrates, data entry, and illustrating results at meetings.
Electrofishing on I-8 Stream, Alaska