Frozen Ground Control on Snowmelt Flowpaths and Surface Water Chemistry in Two Alpine BasinsEPA Grant Number: U915767
Title: Frozen Ground Control on Snowmelt Flowpaths and Surface Water Chemistry in Two Alpine Basins
Investigators: Hamann, Hillary B.
Institution: University of Colorado at Boulder
EPA Project Officer: Michaud, Jayne
Project Period: August 1, 2000 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $95,312
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Geography , Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
The goal of this research project is to understand how snowmelt flowpaths are influenced by frozen ground in mid-latitude alpine basins and how these flowpaths dictate surface water chemistry in relation to snowmelt.
This research will be conducted in two small headwater basins draining Niwot Ridge at 3500 m in the Colorado Front Range. To examine the effect of snowmelt flowpaths on stream chemistry, the Saddle and Martinelli streams were intensively sampled during the start of snowmelt in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Mass balance chemical (Na+, Si) and isotopic (18O) hydrograph separations will be used to determine different flowpath contributions to surface water runoff and their changes over time. Basin runoff will be modeled using TOPMODEL, a topography-based flow routing model, and the calibration of basin infiltration during spring and summer runoff periods will be compared to evaluate the impact that frozen ground has on stream runoff. Finally, the effects of frozen ground on snowmelt infiltration will be measured directly in the field by infiltrometer experiments and by mapping the extent of basal ice development in the basins during the start of snowmelt runoff.
This study will increase our understanding of how snowmelt flowpaths are influenced by frozen ground in mid-latitude alpine basins. It also will elucidate how these flowpaths dictate surface water chemistry in relation to snowmelt.