Research in the Kananaskis region of Alberta, in the Jumping Pound and Elbow Creek watersheds will focus on understanding the importance of forest and wetland ecohydrological processes to mountain stream generation. Specifically, the micrometeorological and boundary-layer influences on evapotranspiration and water use efficiency, and upslope surficial geological and soil conditions on hydrological connections between wetlands and forests, and sources of water to forest stands.
Beginning in 2018 several fully funded MSc projects will focus on the controls of aspect/shading and advection on the partitioning of canopy evapotranspiration. Individual components will require addressing questions including: 1) partitioning the evapotranspiration flux into over and understory components; 2) the effects of forest edges on on evapotranspiration and snow melt; 3) the hydrological role of forest clearings and the sheltering effects of the surrounding forest; 4) Seasonality in conifer transpiration; and 5) the response of alpine forest hydrometeorological conditions to larger scale climatic features such as Chinook winds.
MSc students are also being sought to examine: 1) autogenic feedbacks on wetland evapotranspiration using a combination of eddy covariance, sapflow and porometry to relate canopy controls to hydrologic conditions and the resulting feedbacks to surface evaporation; 2) test and refine evapotranspiration models capable of representing this flux from alpine wetlands, which are often confounded by complex turbulent regimes.
Beginning in 2018 several fully funded PhD studentships are also being sought to work on wetland and forest ecohydrology in these catchments. Specific research projects include: 1) examining altitudinal gradients in forest and wetland water use efficiency; and 2) quantify the ecohydrological role of wetlands across an elevation gradient, synthesizing process ecohydrological data to model impacts of upslope disturbance on wetland hydrological conditions and changes in wetland vascular and non-vascular plant diversity.