Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Special Seminar: Christa Kelleher

Special Seminar: Christa Kelleher

Exploring Influences on Hydrologic Behavior from the Stream Reach to the Stream Network Scale: Integrating Detailed Observations, Hydrologic Modeling, and Sensitivity Analysis

Stream networks are complex systems that translate water, solutes, and nutrients from headwaters to large rivers. While our understanding of how stream networks function has been aided by larger and more extensive observational networks, complex models, and increasing computational power to integrate these pieces, we are still faced with a broad challenge: understanding key hydrologic processes at the scale at which they occur and how these processes vary across the larger stream network. To address this need, we use comparative hydrology, an approach that describes similarities and differences in hydrologic behavior in terms of the climate, vegetation, geology, and topography across different hydrologic systems. Three comparative applications at the reach, catchment, and network scales demonstrate how a combination of hydrologic modeling, sensitivity analysis, and detailed observations can be used to detect how process importance varies with physical setting. Ultimately, these types of relationships will improve our understanding of headwater and stream network functioning, and have potential to enable extrapolation of linkages between physical setting and the sensitivity of hydrologic behavior to change at regional and national scales.

Christa Kelleher is a postdoc in Duke University's Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences.


CIRES Auditorium