Berkeley Lab

New study holds implications for future water supply in the Colorado River Basin

Monsoon rain in the East River, Colorado. Cover Image of Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 47, Issue 23. Image credit: Xavier Fane.

An SFA study led by Rosemary Carroll (Desert Research Institute) found that where rain falls within a Colorado River headwater basin strongly effects whether that rain makes it to the stream.

Co-authored by SFA collaborator David Gochis (NCAR) and SFA Field deputy Ken Williams (LBNL), the study suggests that in a warmer future, summer rains are likely to produce less streamflow, adding to water challenges caused by decreasing snowpack. Read more »

Stunning Visuals Tell a Fluid Story of Water in the Upper Gunnison River Basin

Jeremy Snyder is a photographer and science communicator interested in sharing science in ways that allow people to see and understand the world in new ways. At the time of writing, Jeremy has accepted a position with the communications team at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry. (image and caption credit: Jeremy Snyder)

As part of a DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI), Jeremy Snyder authored “Rocky Mountain Water: The stories of Natural, Impacted, and Managed water in the Upper Gunnison River Basin”. Using the ArcGIS StoryMaps platform and stunning visuals, the story focuses on the Colorado Upper Gunnison River Basin—home to the Watershed Function SFA’s study site, the East River Watershed. See the full story here »

For more of Jeremy’s work, see his personal website.

This work was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists (WDTS) under the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program, under the supervision of Ken Williams, Watershed Function SFA Field Deputy.

Watershed Function at AGU 2020

Researchers from the Watershed Function SFA are thoroughly engaged in this year’s 2020 AGU fall meeting, which will take place virtually December 1 – 17.

17 Talks (2 invited)
19 posters (1 invited)
Chairing 4 special sessions
Leading 1 workshop

A complete listing of the SFA’s 2020 AGU activities is available here.

According to AGU, “AGU20 Fall Meeting will be one of the world’s largest virtual scientific conferences, with exciting programming and events. This will be our most diverse, engaging and dynamic Fall Meeting to date.”

East River-Based Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL) Campaign Sets in Motion

This August 23, 2020, picture from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Gothic, Colorado, looks west toward Gothic Mountain, which rises up over more than 1 kilometer over the East River, and shows the area’s complex terrain. Caption credit: DOE-ARM. Photo credit: Dan Feldman, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (DOE-ARM) program announced that their next mobile facility deployment would be coming to East River, CO, complementing research conducted by the Watershed Function SFA and its extended network of collaborators.

Most recently, ARM published a progress update provided by PI Dan Feldman (Berkeley Lab). Read more »

Varadharajan presents at Virtual Aquatic Data/Open Science Summit

SFA Data Management co-lead Charuleka Varadharajan presented at a Virtual Summit “Incorporating Data Science and Open Science Techniques in Aquatic Research” on July 23, 2020. The summit was intended to discuss how aquatic researchers work with big data, develop new modeling frameworks, develop tools and software for the larger community, and apply their work for natural resource management and monitoring purposes.

Dr. Varadharajan’s talk focused on how the SFA and her related DOE Early Career Project deal with management and integration of complex data, including the SFA’s end-end field-data framework and workflow. The talk also highlights the SFA’s co-design approach that enables the 3-way exchange between observations, models and analytics to address science questions or hypotheses about watershed behavior. The presentation is an example of SFA researchers’ leadership in the broader data science and environmental cyberinfrastructure community.

Watershed Function SFA Hosts its first Virtual Mini-retreat

The Watershed Function SFA hosted its first-ever virtual mini-retreat. Using Zoom, 90 team members, collaborators, and invited guests engaged in two half-day sessions of live and recorded presentations, virtual breakouts, and discussions by video and text.

A subset of the 25+ pre-recorded “pop-up” presentations featuring Watershed SFA research updates are featured below. For some meeting snapshots, see here.


Effects of variation in changing climate and snowmelt date on Evapotranspiration in the East River Watershed, Colorado

Shale bedrock variability across the watershed scale

Baseflow Age Distributions in a Headwater Mountain Stream

Snowmelt Microbial Ecology Across Chemical, Molecular, and Spatial Scales

Rates of bedrock weathering and N fluxes including N2O emission

Quantifying dynamic surface-subsurface interactions using RTM along a riparian corridor

Hysteresis patterns of watershed nitrogen retention and loss


DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Facility Campaign Coming to East River Watershed

The 2010‒2011 Storm Peak Lab Cloud Property Validation Experiment (STORMVEX) included the deployment of the second ARM Mobile Facility (AMF2) to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. AMF2 will return to Colorado in 2021 for SAIL. Photo and caption credit: DOE-ARM

A proposal to deploy a mobile atmospheric measurement facility in East River, CO Watershed was selected for award under the 2019 call for proposals to the Department of Energy Atmospheric Radiation Measurement User Facility.

Led by Berkeley Lab’s Daniel Feldman, the “Surface Atmosphere Integrated Field Laboratory (SAIL)” will run from September 2021 through June 2023 and will complement research conducted by the Watershed Function SFA and its extended network of collaborators. Together, says PI Feldman, SAIL and the SFA effort will represent the first integrated mountainous field laboratory, by measuring earth system fluxes and transformations from the bedrock through the atmosphere. Read more »

Jill Banfield Receives 2020 H.C. Urey Award

The European Association of Geochemistry honored Jill Banfield with the 2020 H.C. Urey Award, which is given “for outstanding contributions advancing geochemistry over a career.” Read more »

Susan Hubbard Elected to National Academy of Engineering

SFA Director Susan Hubbard is one of 87 members and 18 international members to be newly elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) today. The NAE honored Susan for her significant contributions to the research of hydrogeophysics, biogeophysics, and the geophysics of permafrost.

Read more »

Heidi Steltzer Profiled in Colorado Sun Newspaper

Photo credit: Dean Krakel/Special to The Colorado Sun.

Heidi talks to an independent newspaper about SFA early snowmelt experiments and how findings are linked to earth system models to improve predictions under a changing climate. Read more »