iBUGI: innovative Biogeochemistry of Urban Green Infrastructure
Many of the fastest growing urban areas in western North America, as well as water-limited regions around the world, are located adjacent to mountain ranges, where precipitation from higher elevations provides water resources at lower elevations. Urbanization along these mountain front ecosystems is rapidly altering the landscape, highlighting the need for research into the sustainable development of these regions characterized by sharp transitions in elevation, climate, geology, and ecology. The Wasatch Front is emblematic of these rapidly growing regions and our research into the coupled human-natural environment is developing both site-specific and readily transferrable knowledge to address the challenges faced by state, regional, and local agencies.
The innovative Biogeochemistry of Urban Green Infrastructure (iBUGI) research effort is a cross-cutting iUTAH program designed to address these challenges by integrating biophysical, social, and engineering research. We take a place-based approach, centered on the Red Butte Creek (RBC) watershed, to synthesize new understanding from all three Research Focus Areas (RFA) within the watershed and focus new observations and studies both within RBC and in other iUTAH watersheds. This parallels successful efforts at other environmental observatories with a unique focus on coupled urban and natural environments.
Targeted new observations include spatially extensive field campaigns across the watershed, development of new hydro-chemical data sets co-located with ongoing water balance or social science research, and development of groundwater observations to expand the temporal scale of data from individual events to the time course of urbanization. The multi-scale foci of iBUGI will both inform coupled modeling efforts and provide spatially and temporal explicit data for coupled model evaluation within RFA 3.