January 22nd, 2020A new study of nearly every delta on the planet shows how river delta shapes and sizes around the world are changing due to human activity. The study, carried out by a team of Dutch and American researchers that includes INSTAAR Albert Kettner, finds that increased soil erosion from deforestation has been building land in deltas over the past 30 years, despite extensive river damming. This trend is likely to reverse as sea-level rise accelerates and other human impacts take effect.
January 16th, 2020An educational exhibit on the Boulder Creek watershed is opening at the Museum of Boulder on Friday, January 31 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. All are welcome at the opening reception, which is free.
December 10th, 2019High in the Canadian Arctic on Baffin Island, beneath 10 meters of water and many more of mud, sits a refrigerated archive of Earth’s past life. The deep sediments in a small lake called CF8 hold ancient pollen and plant fossils. But it now appears that the mud harbors something else: ancient DNA from as far back as the Eemian, a period 125,000 years ago when the Arctic was warmer than today, left by vegetation that otherwise would have vanished without a trace. Highlights the work of postdoc and former grad student Sarah Crump.
May 1st, 2018A new study led by INSTAAR postdoc Lineke Woelders has found dramatic shifts in the ecosystem of a remote archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in response to recent climate change. The study was published May 1, 2018 in the open-access journal Scientific Reports, doi 10.1038/s41598-018-25148-7.
October 16th, 2017A new study has measured the sediment carried by Greenland’s rivers to the ocean, with implications for marine ecosystems, carbon in the ocean, and dynamics of the coastal zone. Led by INSTAAR researchers and published today in Nature Geoscience, the study is the first to quantify in detail the concentrations of sediment in rivers flowing from Greenland to the sea.
July 14th, 2015Biogeochemist Eve-Lyn Hinckley, who was a postdoctoral fellow at INSTAAR from 2009 to 2011, has returned to CU as an assistant professor for INSTAAR and the Environmental Studies program. Hinckley will teach three courses annually, conduct research on sulfur and nitrogen in ecosystems, and eventually take over as director of INSTAAR’s Kiowa Lab, an environmental chemistry laboratory for the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research Program.
May 27th, 2015Scientists have developed a new theory to explain patterns in biodiversity, and tested it on bacteria in the soils of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Their study was published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
December 15th, 2014INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share new research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, 15 to 19 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, air quality and fracking, polar climate change, atmospheric chemistry, flood impacts, forests and snow, plants and soils, and past climates.
September 25th, 2014A unique initiative, Sustainable Deltas 2015 (SD2015), launched today at the Deltas in Times of Climate Change II International Conference in Rotterdam. The aim of the initiative is to focus attention and research on the value and vulnerability of deltas worldwide, and enhance international and regional cooperation among scientists, policymakers and other stakeholders.
CWEST: A new partnership between CU and the USGS pushes collaboration, houses Hydro Sciences program
June 9th, 2014INSTAAR is pleased to announce the establishment of the Center for Water, Earth Science, and Technology (CWEST), which will promote increased collaboration between researchers at the University of Colorado–Boulder and the U.S. Geological Survey.
April 4th, 2014Tsegay Wolde-Georgis, of the INSTAAR program Consortium for Capacity Building (CCB), is leading a project to introduce the cultivation of apple trees irrigated by water-filled, buried clay pots to the mountainous, dry region of Atebes, a village of 4000 people in northern Ethiopia. Over the last 30 years, land degradation and climate change have exacerbated existing constraints of drought, soil erosion, deforestation, poor food supply consisting entirely of cereal grains, and lack of access to water. The goal of the clay pot project is to improve the resiliency of the community to climate-related hazards through demonstration and capacity building. So far, the project has led not only to the cultivation of high-value fruits and vegetables, but to erosion control and improved water supplies.
December 5th, 2013INSTAAR faculty and graduate students will share their research at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting (http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2013/) held in San Francisco, 9 to 13 December. They will present new research on abrupt climate change, atmospheric chemistry, geomorphology, rivers and oceans, forests and snow, plants and soils, past climates, flood monitoring, Antarctic volcanoes, coastal erosion, and emissions from energy production.
August 16th, 2013Meet two undergraduate students working in the alpine environment of the Mountain Research Station, where topics studied range from plant and animal ecology to hydrology and atmospheric science. The undergraduate experience at the station provides students with hands-on training in advanced research techniques at what is widely regarded as the best known site in the world specializing in alpine environmental science.
September 7th, 2012Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, reports a new study led by CU-Boulder and the USGS. Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo., may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed. Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September.
July 6th, 2012Nitrogen compounds from power plants, automobiles, and agriculture is creating air pollution that is changing the alpine vegetation in Rocky Mountain National Park, says a new study by INSTAAR Fellow William Bowman and colleagues.
January 30th, 2012A new study led by INSTAAR Fellow Gifford Miller appears to answer contentious questions about the onset and cause of Earth’s Little Ice Age, a period of cooling temperatures that began after the Middle Ages and lasted into the late 19th century. According to the study, the Little Ice Age began abruptly between A.D. 1275 and 1300, triggered by repeated, explosive volcanism and sustained by a self-perpetuating sea ice-ocean feedback system in the North Atlantic Ocean.
June 16th, 2011A $5.9 million grant for alpine ecosystem research will allow INSTAAR to continue for six years its intensive studies of long-term ecological changes in Colorado's high mountains, both natural and human-caused, over decades and centuries. The grant is the largest environmental sciences award in CU-Boulder history.
December 20th, 2010James Syvitski was elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) for "bringing new insights to the disciplines of oceanography, river and fjord processes, and sediment transport". Fellowship is bestowed on less than 0.1% of the total AGU membership of about 58,000 in any given year and recognizes scientists who have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences.
December 15th, 2009Diane McKnight is one of three CU-Boulder faculty members who have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2009. McKnight was honored for her outstanding contributions to coupled biogochemical and hydrologic processes.
December 1st, 2009Researchers have found that the northern coastline of Alaska midway between Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay is eroding by 30 to 45 feet a year because of a "triple whammy" of declining sea ice, warming seawater and increased wave activity. The 12-foot-high bluffs topple into the Beaufort Sea during the summer months, where the coastal seawater melts them in a matter of days, sweeping the silty material out to sea.
October 19th, 2009A team of researchers discovered that biological and chemical changes occurring at a remote Arctic lake in recent decades are unprecedented over the past 200,000 years and the result of human-caused climate change. Their record of past environments goes back in time 80,000 years before the oldest reliable ice cores from Greenland and captures three interglacial periods, including the Holocene. But changes seen in the sediment cores since about 1950 show that expected natural climate cooling and related changes in the lake environment are being overridden by human activity like greenhouse gas emissions.
September 20th, 2009James Syvitski, Albert Kettner, Irina Overeem, Eric Hutton and Mark Hannon, along with colleagues from six other institutions, have shown that most of the world's low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity, making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk.
September 4th, 2009An international team of scientists have reconstructed past climate in the Arctic over the past 2,000 years in unprecedented detail. The team found that Arctic temperatures have reversed from a long-term cooling trend and are now the warmest they have been in at least 2,000 years, bad news for the world’s coastal cities facing rising seas in the coming decades.
February 4th, 2009James Syvitski led the effort to install a new supercomputer at INSTAAR that will vastly extend the ability of scientists across the globe to model and predict many important aspects of Earth's surface processes, from glacial melting and flooding to coastal erosion and tropical ocean storms. The new computer cluster is the heart of the NSF-funded Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System (CSDMS).
November 5th, 2008Bill Bowman, Cory Cleveland (former INSTAAR, U. of Montana), and colleagues at the Slovak Academy of Science and the U.S. Geological survey have found that vegetation and soils already subjected to long-term acid rain could face even more stress in the form of nitrogen-laden precipitation.
September 26th, 2008Andy Revkin has posted a time-lapse video of Alaska’s rapidly eroding Arctic coast by INSTAAR and USGS researchers on his New York Times Dot Earth Blog.
September 8th, 2008A CU-Boulder team working at 16,400 feet in the Peruvian Andes has discovered how barren soils uncovered by retreating glacier ice can swiftly establish a thriving community of microbes, setting the table for lichens, mosses and alpine plants.
May 17th, 2008Alan Townsend and other members of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) North American Nitrogen Center have published a review of human influence on the global nitrogen cycle in Science.
April 30th, 2008Boulder High School seniors Anna Hermann, Kelly Lane, and Danielle Pite were invited to the prestigious 2008 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair for their team project “Didymosphenia geminata: The core question,” mentored by USGS Ecologist and INSTAAR affiliate Sarah Spaulding.
November 26th, 2007A University of Colorado team led by INSTAAR Suzanne Anderson was awarded funding by the National Science Foundation for a five-year project to establish a Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) in the Boulder Creek Watershed.
May 18th, 2007Syvitski will be the executive director of a new NSF initiative, the Community Surface Dynamic Modeling System (CSDMS), which will study how landscapes and seascapes change over time, and how materials like water, sediments and nutrients are transported from one place to another. These studies will allow better predictions about areas at risk to phenomena like deforestation, forest fires, land-use changes and the impacts of climate change.
September 10th, 2006John Andrews, Anne Jennings, and colleagues have assembled marine core records of ice-rafted debris (IRD) off North Iceland, East Greenland, and Labrador that are at odds with an earlier and oft-cited study showing a pervasive ~1.5 thousand year periodicity of IRD delivery during the Holocene (last ~11,400 years).
June 21st, 2006Cory Cleveland and Alan Townsend have completed a study of tropical forest soils showing that even small changes in nutrients could have a profound impact on the release of CO2.
April 4th, 2006Alan Townsend was named director of the North American Nitrogen Center (NANC), one of five centers around the world that together comprise the core structure of the SCOPE and IGBP sanctioned International Nitrogen Initiative (INI).
March 29th, 2006Karen Cozzetto was the main contributor to an educational website, 77 Degrees South, that showcases the life, times, and research of several groups of scientists working in the largest ice-free region of Antarctica: the McMurdo Dry Valleys.
September 29th, 2005Chris Jenkins and colleagues at the USGS released the first regional coverage of the usSEABED database, a large compilation of samples data on marine substrates for the US Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical miles out from the coast), for the Atlantic margin.
August 19th, 2005Diane McKnight (INSTAAR & CEAE) and Jeff Wong (CEAE) spoke with KUNC's Gavin McMeeking about the pervasive pollution of Colorado mountain streams by mining and the potential for remediation by environmental engineers.
April 14th, 2005A new analysis of data from more than 4,000 rivers around the world indicates humans are having profound and conflicting effects on the amount of sediment carried by rivers to coastal areas, with consequences for marine life and pollution control, according to INSTAAR scientist James Syvitski.
January 12th, 2005An intensive University of Colorado at Boulder project charting long-term ecological changes in the high mountains of Colorado will continue for at least six more years as a result of a $4.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
June 27th, 2004Joe Stoner participated in a German-led study of marine sediments from the Chilean continental margin that show a clear "Antarctic" timing of sea surface temperature changes.
January 12th, 2004Researchers have constructed a new high-resolution calibration of the radiocarbon time scale back to 50,000 years before the present.
December 22nd, 2003Diane McKnight was elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union for her outstanding contributions to the understanding of the biogeochemistry associated with transport metals and organic substances in streams and lakes.
September 17th, 2003The ability of several of Colorado's prime ski areas to respond to winter drought is threatened by acidic runoff from abandoned mines, according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments. Contamination known as acid-rock drainage enters waterways, such as Summit County's Snake River, that are used for making artificial snow. When the snow melts, the water can run into streams not previously polluted, further spreading the contamination, said the research team.
June 12th, 2003Despite greatly increasing food production for humans, the growing use of nitrogen as a nutrient is affecting people's health far beyond just the benefits of growing more crops, according to a new University of Colorado at Boulder-led study led by Alan Townsend
November 1st, 2002The Geological Society of America honored John Andrews' tremendous impact on the Quaternary sciences at the annual meeting with two special sessions entitled "Quaternary Sciences from Land to Sea: In Honor of John T. Andrews."
October 30th, 2002The rapid increase of nitrogen falling from the sky as a result of fossil-fuel combustion and crop fertilization, combined with carbon stored in Earth's soils, could change the rate of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, rising into the atmosphere, according to a new study by Alan Townsend and others.
June 6th, 2001High school student Evan Burgess won the 2001 Colorado State Science Fair (Senior division) for his study of glacier moraines using a Geographic Information System (GIS).
August 10th, 2000A $2.6 million National Science Foundation grant to the University of Colorado at Boulder will allow scores of students from the natural sciences, social sciences and journalism fields to join forces and explore novel solutions to environmental problems.
In The News
February 5th, 2020National Geographic story: Abrupt thaw affects only 5% of Arctic permafrost, but it could double carbon emissions from that environment, says a new study led by INSTAAR Merritt Turetsky.
January 23rd, 2020Deforestation and river damming are changing the shape of these landforms around the globe, finds a new study. The authors, including INSTAAR Albert Kettner, examined 10,848 deltas to quantify humans’ impact. Three primary forces shape deltas: rivers delivering sediment; tides pushing or pulling sediment; and waves redistributing sediment along the coast. Humans exert a lot of control over how much sediment a river carries: While deforestation feeds the flow of soil, dams plug it up.
September 30th, 2019Our warming planet poses an existential threat to deltas, a reality made clear in the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, released this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC report states with “high confidence” that deltas will face “high to very high risks” in the future from rising sea levels, even under scenarios where the world rapidly reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and minimizes the rise in global temperatures and the subsequent melting of ice sheets and glaciers. But the report also identifies other threats to deltas, including the loss of the sediment needed to replenish them and keep them above the rising seas. This Forbes story links to a paper by Syvitski, et al., about sinking deltas.
July 2nd, 2019Henry Fountain, a New York Times climate reporter, and Ben C. Solomon, a Times multimedia reporter, traveled to Greenland to experience the changing landscape while visiting INSTAAR visiting researcher Mette Bendixen in the field.
July 2nd, 2019Sand and gravel are being extracted faster than they can be replaced. Monitor and manage this resource globally, urge Mette Bendixen and colleagues in this Nature Comment.
June 1st, 2019The University of Colorado Boulder’s Mountain Research Station, within the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest and situated just a few miles west off of Colo. 72, is the jumping-off point for some of the most important ongoing research into the nuanced and changing dynamics of alpine ecology going on anywhere in North America. The frontier of research into the effects of a changing climate, where animals and plants are living at the extreme limits of environmental tolerance at up to 12,000 feet, has continued to be expanded there—with ground-penetrating radar and drones now displacing shotguns and shovels—for well over half a century.
Noon seminar - Arctic coastal changes & their potential importance in a time of global sand scarcity
Monday, March 9th at 12:15pm
SEEC S228 (Sievers Room)
Thursday, April 2nd at 12:00am