Berkeley Lab

Scientific Objectives

The Watershed Function SFA Grand Challenge Question and Supporting Science Questions will be addressed through a series of integrated tasks carried out by hydrology, ecohydrology, organomineral, watershed characterization, watershed reactor modeling, and data management subteams working together at the East River Watershed in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Grand Challenge Question: How do Mountainous Watersheds Retain and Release Water, Nutrients, Carbon and Metals over Episodic to Decadal Timeframes?
Supporting Science Questions
  1. How do perturbations to individual watershed subsystems, including early snowmelt and drought, lead to downgradient export of water, carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus from that subsystem?
  2. How does early snowmelt and/or drought alter subsystem connectivity between subsystems of mountainous watersheds?
  3. How do subsystem responses to perturbations contribute to aggregated water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and trace metal exports from the watershed?
  4. When and where does fine-scale representation of processes significantly improve prediction of watershed hydrology and biogeochemistry, and how can they be tractably represented in models?
  5. Do perturbations that impact water flow and nutrient transport in pristine systems enhance or suppress metals release from mining-impacted systems having otherwise similar watershed characteristics?
  6. Which insights and methods are critical for improving operational forecasting predictions of water quantity and quality in response to a range of pulse and press perturbations?