2013 - 2014 Global Change Fellow
Where Are They Now?
David is a hydrology technician at the Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research Laboratory in North Carolina.
Statement of purpose:
I am a Masters student working with Drs. John King and Asko Noormets and co-majoring in Forestry and Marine Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. My interests focus on water resources and the role of hydrology as a driver for ecosystem structure and processes. Changing climates and civilizations are altering water cycles, which will drive ecosystems in new directions. Consideration of these changes will be crucial to planning the structure of landscapes in the future. I am also interested in the conservation of future wildlife diversity and would like to coordinate the efforts and goals of riparian zones for water quality and terrestrial wildlife corridors.
Description of research:
I am examining water and energy cycles in managed and natural forested wetlands in the lower North Carolina coastal plain. Managed Loblolly Pine plantations in this area require ditching and draining which is productive for timber, but also affects water, energy, and carbon cycles, which we are measuring with eddy flux towers. Quantifying the energy balance provides quality checkpoints to carbon and water budgets, greater insight to evapotranspiration, a poorly understood component of the water balance, and offers understanding to how management affects the local microclimate and the feedbacks of land use change to climate change at a regional scale. Comparing the water cycles of different management regimes is contributing to SECSC’s Science Theme 2: Land Use and Land-Cover Change Projections, Task 2: Research water availability under changing land use and climate. Flux towers and the eddy covariance method have enabled direct measurement of Evapotranspiration (ET) which I am using to develop simple models that can be utilized by managers to predict the hydrologic consequences of timber plantations and different land use practices. The models will contribute to Science Theme 3: Impacts of climate change on water resources, Task 2: Conduct research to improve hydrologic models. The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, the naturally forested control site, is undergoing changes due to Sea Level Rise (SLR) and saltwater intrusion. While my specific analyses will not address these changes, the data we are collecting are contributing to Theme 5: Coastal and nearshore marine environments, Task 1: Establish ecological baseline conditions.