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September 5th, 2004

INSTAAR researchers featured in CU’s annual report on Sponsored Research

Diane McKnight and her graduate student Rose Cory were featured in the printed report on Sponsored Research for the University of Colorado at Boulder, fiscal year 2003-2004. McKnight and several of her graduate and undergraduate students have been researching alpine lake ecosystems in the Green Lakes Valley watershed for a number of years as part of the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research project (NWTLTER) funded by NSF. The NWTLTER project, currently headed by Mark Williams, began at INSTAAR in 1980 (2005 update: NWTLTER was renewed for another 6 years by NSF).The Green Lakes watershed combined with adjacent Silver Lake valley supplies about 40 percent of the city of Boulder's water supply. In Green Lakes Valley, the group has documented changing algal amounts and species distributions over the past 20 years. These ecological changes are associated with decreased ice cover and increased atmospheric nitrogen pollution from automobiles and agriculture in the Front Range. Similar trends have been observed in alpine lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. McKnight's research group has also been researching other aquatic systems elsewhere in Colorado, the Arctic, and the Antarctic. The research has provided an opportunity for students to experience the thrills of field research in the mountains and learn about connections between land development and the natural ecosystems that provide important goods and services, such as our high-quality water supply.