Research Focus Area 1: Examining the Water Cycle

Ecohydrology: Improving our understanding of the interaction between water and ecosystems in Utah


Research Focus Area 1 team members
Water for Utah’s people, agriculture, industry, and ecosystems has it origins as snow in our mountains. iUTAH’s Research Focus Area 1 focused on improving Utah’s capacity to monitor, understand, and predict connections between water resources and ecohydrology (interactions between water and ecosystems). Understanding these interactions are essential to the future of human health and well-being, economic development, and natural ecosystems along the Wasatch Front. Researchers  explored the impacts of climate and land-use change on the water quantity and water quality in watersheds from high elevation alpine and forest ecosystems through urban settings.

 

iUTAH research in this area centers on a well-established network of environmental observatories in the state. GAMUT or ‘Gradients Along Mountain to Urban Transitions,’ is a network of aquatic and climate sensor stations measuring and recording climate, hydrology, and water quality along the Wasatch Front. Thesesensor stations, located in three of Utah’s most populated watersheds: Red Butte CreekLogan River, and Provo River, traverse the landscape from mountain to urban settings. Each station logs and transmits data that is stored in databases and made available via various mechanisms, including an open access web-based tool for exploring and accessing data. Producing archived and accessible data encouraged collaboration between researchers statewide working to better understand the impact of these variables on the state’s water resources.

 

Guiding Research Questions

  1. What is the balance (e.g., quantity, surpluses, or deficits) between hydrological inputs (e.g., snow, rain, groundwater) and outputs (e.g., evapotranspiration, runoff)?
  2. What determines water quality along GAMUT, especially in urban settings?
  3. How will climate and/or land-use change influence availability of alpine water resources and snow pack?

 

Documents

  • Sample and Analysis Plan
    Stream Water Quality and Quantity for GAMUT Version 1.2 - May 2014

    This plan was developed by the iUTAH Water Quality Team, a subgroup of Research Focus Area 1 (Ecohydrology) in support of the GAMUT monitoring network. This work was supported by NSF EPSCoR award OIA 12-08732 to Utah State University, as part of the State of Utah Research Infrastructure Improvement Award. Any recommendations expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.