News & Events

Grad student talk: Modeling aspect controlled formation of seasonally frozen ground at Gordon Gulch

Thursday, November 02, 2017, 12:30PM - 1:30PM


Mickey Rush

The IPCC (2013) warns that high-elevation ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to climate change because of their short growing seasons, thin soils, sparse vegetation, melting glaciers, and thawing permafrost. Many permafrost-free regions experience seasonally frozen ground. The spatial distribution of frozen soil exerts a strong control on subsurface flow and transport processes by reducing soil permeability and impeding infiltration. Accordingly, evolution of the extent and duration of frozen ground may alter streamflow seasonality, groundwater flow paths, and subsurface storage, presenting a need for coupled thermal-hydrologic models to project hydrologic responses to climate warming in high-elevation regions. To be useful as predictive tools, such models should incorporate the heterogeneity of solar insolation, vegetation, and snowpack dynamics. We present a coupled thermal-hydrologic modeling study against the backdrop of field observations from Gordon Gulch, a seasonally snow-covered montaine catchment in the Colorado Front Range in the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (CZO).