I study how water, the material it moves, and nutrients it contains move across the landscape and are transported downstream. This is not just the water moving through stream networks, but also water that is transported through the soil before it gets to the stream. My research investigates how the location and history of water on the landscape effects various ecological processes, and the patterns they create.
Agent Based Modeling of Water Resources and Land Use Change
Gaining a holistic understanding of water resources in urban settings requires knowledge about the physical system (e.g. climate, vegetation) and the social system that stores and moves water across the landscape (e.g. reservoirs, irrigation canals). The goal of this project is to model the hydrology of the Boise River Basin by coupling a hydrologic model and a social model representing how we move water through the basin.
While building our coupled model, we will create framework for modeling water resources with agent based models (ABM). ABMs are models where individuals (agents) are unique entities that interact with each other and their environment. This type of model allows for agents to adapt to new information based on their objectives and decision – making strategies. Vicken Hillis’ work on behavior and decision making in environmental settings highlights the complexity that this creates in a given system. Our goal for creating a water resources ABM framework is to make these models more transferrable across systems, which could increase synthesis of findings across basins. A first step will be to characterize the main ‘agents’ that use and manage water resources. This is being done in conjunction with the ID EPSCoR Treasure Valley Water Atlas project which is characterizing where Boise River Basin water comes from and how it moves through the basin (Shawn Benner, Jill Moroney, Jen Schneider). Coupling our ABM with a regional hydrologic model (WRF-hydro) will allow us to examine emergent properties of the system as the agents respond to various climatic scenarios (Lejo Flores), and landuse change (Jodi Brandt). This dynamic model could be used to assess questions like: Will current water management practices work well in an extended drought? How will the conversion of agricultural land to urban development impact water demand and streamflow? This could improve synthesis of findings across basins, and increase use of coupled social-ecological system models for examining complex water resources issues.
Greenhouse Gas Fluxes NSF GRFP - Ecohydrologic influences on soil trace gas fluxes across complex terrain
There are large uncertainties in land-atmosphere- climate interactions, feedbacks, and controls over CO2 fluxes, and even more so for N2O and CH4, particularly in mountainous regions. This research project is using a landscape framework to examine spatiotemporal controls over soil trace gas flux in watersheds of differing climatic regimes, topographic structure, and vegetation patterns. Improved integration and transferability of point scale measurements to landscape scale estimates of gas flux are the main goals of the project. In the future, these estimates could be incorporated into regional models, allowing for further assessment of how global climate and land-use change affect terrestrial and aquatic nutrient cycling.
Streamflow Intermittency Project NSF GRIP - USGS ID Water Science Center
With lower than average snowpack, many western streams reached peak flows earlier in the 2015 season, and dropped to historically low flows. Considering the large socio-economic and ecological implications of drought, it is imperative to gain better understanding of stream flow conditions in a changing climate. Headwater streams account for 90% of the stream network, they can contribute large amount of water to the network and are integral to supporting healthy ecosystems. The goal of this project is to create the Headwaters Intermittency Prediction (HIP) tool, it will benefit resource managers in the western US by improving their ability to anticipate when and where streamflow is likely to reach critically low levels, allowing them to target drought relief efforts. During this internship I compiled and assimilated various data sets and remote sensing products to calibrate the models underlying the HIP tool. I also created an ArcGIS Web App for collaborators to add additional observations of stream permanence in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Mountain Pine Beetle Montana State - Undergraduate Research Project
The Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) outbreak in the Rocky Mountains was the greatest biological cause of mature pine mortality in western North America from in the early 2000s. We used high resolution (2.4m) QuickBird imagery to to examine the pattern of the MPB outbreak on the landscape. Using topographic metrics of water availability, we found that infested and dying trees were more prevalent in dry landscape positions. This supports research on MPB outbreak dynamics, while showing one way high resolution remote sensing products can be used to observe and analyze ecohydrologic patterns at the landscape scale.