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Ecohydrology Laboratory


Spatial distribution of forest canopy in Gordon Gulch (Boulder Creek CZO).

B. Skeets extracts water from soil and xylem samples using cryogenic vacuum distillation line.

The links between streamflow and forests are poorly understood.  Processes operating in the hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere interact at multiple scales to determine the structure, function and health of terrestrial ecosystems.  Although numerous studies have examined soil hydrologic processes, vegetation function, and micro-climate independently, investigating the feedbacks among these core areas has only recently become a research priority.  Fundamental questions of forests' effect on the hydrologic cycle remain unanswered: At what depth do trees access soil moisture?  To what extent does transpiration affect streamflow?  Why do some vegetation processes seem tightly coupled to climate, whereas, streamflow dynamics are dominated by threshold behavior?  Detailed process-based studies that explore the interface between plant physiological function and watershed flowpaths and dynamics have not widely been attempted.  However, these studies are fundamental to how the subsurface reservoir is viewed by hydrologists and ecologists alike.  The CU Ecohydrology lab investigates the links bewteen forests, soil water, and streamflow in a water resources context.  We use field sampling, stable isotope techniques, and spatial modeling to advance our ecohydrological understanding.

Our lab supports broadening participation of underrepresented and underserved groups in science.  Dr. Barnard serves as a science mentor for the NSF-funded UNAVCO Research Experience in Solid Earth Science for Students (RESESS) and as a program and meeting mentor for the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees (MSPHDs) program.

T. Meyer installs sapflow sensors at the Niwot Ridge LTER.

Soil and foliage samples collected for isotopic analysis.





Funded Research Projects:

2020-2025:  Collaborative Research: Network Cluster: Quantifying controls and feedbacks of dynamic storage on critical zone processes in western montane watersheds, National Science Foundation, Critical Zone Collaborative Network Program, $6.9M, Barnard - PI. A collaboration of nine PIs from six institutions.

2015-2018:  Collaborative Research: From Roots to Rock - Linking Evapotranspiration and Groundwater Fluxes in the Critical Zone, National Science Foundation, Hydrologic Sciences Program, $454,097, Barnard - PI. In collaboration with Dr. Kamini Singha at Colorado School of Mines.

2014-2017: Collaborative Research: Planning And Land Management in Tropical Ecosystem; Complexities of land-use and hydrology coupling in the Panama Canal Watershed, National Science Foundation, Water Sustainability and Climate Program, $2.8M, Barnard - PI. In collaboration with University of Wyoming (lead institution) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

2011-2015: Carbon-Water Cycling in the Critical Zone: Understanding Ecosystem Process Variability Across Complex Terrain, U.S. Department of Energy Terrestrial Ecosystem Science Program, $647,020, Barnard - PI.

Contact Information

(Phone) 303 735-7062
University of Colorado Boulder, Campus Box 450, Boulder, CO 80309