2019 Graduate Student Showcase

Title of Submission

Using High Resolution Regional Climate Models to Inform Watershed Function

Degree Program

Geophysics, PhD

Major Advisor Name

Alejandro Flores

Type of Submission

Scholarly Poster


The Critical Zone (CZ) is the thin layer of the Earth that extends from the bedrock to the tops of the trees. Within this layer, a host of biogeochemical processes necessary for life on Earth take place. These reactions need water, and the lack of knowing the rates and volumes of water delivery to the CZ limit our ability to understand CZ processes including carbon storage, soil respiration, plant growth and subsurface chemical transport. This problem is exacerbated in mountainous areas, where meteorological observations are sparse and rain/snowfall is highly variable. High resolution regional climate models (essentially the same models used to predict the weather) are promising techniques to reproduce weather conditions of the recent past, including quantitative estimates of precipitation (both rain and snow). For this research, I’m creating a 1km in space and 1hr in time reconstruction of past weather in Colorado’s East River Watershed from 1990 to present. The meteorological data outputs will be used to inform fundamental understanding of how the East River CZ stores and moves water, with implications for water resource management and the understanding of future climate scenarios.

Funding Information

U.S. Department of Energy DE-FOA-0001724

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