Putting the Eco back in Ecohydrology

October 16, 2012 • Filed under: News — melanie.rohr

What roles do deciduous and conifer trees play in terms of water use and water cycling? Find out at this week’s WERC seminar, Friday, October 19, when Jessie Cable discusses boreal forest hydrology.

Friday Seminar Series

  • What: Boreal forest water cycling: Deciduous trees put the Eco in Ecohydrology
  • Who: Jessie Cable
  • When: 3:30-4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19
  • Where: 531 Duckering

One uncertainty in boreal forest hydrology is the role of vegetation water use in removing and / or storing water, thereby affecting water availability for stream flow. The drastically different tree communities that occupy the boreal landscape make it important to understand their role in the water cycle. My seminar will focus on the water use dynamics of the two primary tree types of the boreal forest: deciduous and coniferous trees. I integrated different aspects of an extensive field study conducted at Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed using a Bayesian analysis approach. I will show that the deciduous trees found on south facing slopes without permafrost play a much more active role in the water cycle compared to the coniferous trees on north facing slopes with permafrost. The deciduous trees have higher water use and flux rates than the coniferous trees, resulting in vertically controlled water pathways on south facing slopes wherein water is removed from the soil and transpired into the atmosphere. The coniferous trees have much lower water use and flux rates, resulting in horizontally controlled water pathways on north facing slopes. This work is part of a broader project aimed at quantifying the uncertainties in boreal forest hydrology to better predict potential changes due to permafrost thaw and climate change.

Female researcher stands in a parking lot; in tow are multiple action packers, a stack of coolers and field gear on a small hand cart

Dr. Cable prepares for a field excursion intended to investigate vegetative water use in the boreal forest.
Photo by Jessie Cable