The goal of this research is to determine what geochemical and biogeochemical processes are important at the watershed scale in alpine basins, using a multidisciplinary approach that combines stable and radiogenic isotopic tracers, plot-level experiments, process-level modeling, and field research to constrain the modeling results. The objectives include improving our fundamental understanding of biogeochemical and geochemical processes, and examining the responses of test basins to possible anthropogenic perturbations. We make the case that geochemical, biogeochemical, and hydrologic processes are interconnected at the watershed scale and must be studied together.
Our belief is that a suite of isotopic systems will provide new and important tools in understanding the complexities of low-temperature processes that determine the surface water environment. Isotopic tools will be used in combination with field measurements of water quality and quantity to:
A key objective of this research is the development
of a robust model for solute transport
built on fundamental principles that is sufficiently accurate
so as to predict the fate of a variety of chemical constituents
at many sites and under a variety of conditions.
The algorithms used for this physically-based mathematical
model are being developed and tested as part of NASA/EOS
and other projects to provide an integrated approach
to modeling the hydrology and biogeochemistry of seasonally
snow-covered alpine basins.
To address these goals,
we have assembled a multi-disciplinary research team
and cooperative support from the National Biological
Service, US Geological Survey, the National Park Service,
and the Long-Term Ecological Research program.
The two study areas are Niwot Ridge/Green Lakes Valley
and Loch Vale Watershed,
which lie on the east slope of the Colorado Front Range.