ERG and collaborators investigate particulate organic matter dynamics in hyporheic zones

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Ecohydrology Research Group is collaborating with scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL, in Richland, Washington) to study the transport and degradation of Particulate Organic Matter (POM) in hyporheic zones. Hyporheic zones are areas within riverbed sediments where river water and groundwater are mixed and exchanged between a river and its bed. POM has an important role in river corridor ecosystems because microbial communities in riverbed sediments can break down POM and use it in reactions that generate energy, build biomass, and drive biogeochemical nutrient cycles.

The field site for this project is located near PNNL, within the ‘Hanford Reach’ of the Columbia River. The Hanford Reach is uninterrupted by dams, but upstream dam operations cause large river level fluctuations that result in frequent reversals in the direction of hyporheic exchanges. This collaborative research project aims to combine field, laboratory, and modelling approaches to develop a quantitative and predictive understanding of POM transport and degradation in hyporheic zones, and investigate how these processes are influenced by dam operations.

Experiments conducted by MSc student Riley Mills (under the supervision of Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Philippe Van Cappellen and Dr. Fereidoun Rezanezhad) in the Ecohydrology Research Group at the University of Waterloo will simulate POM transport in riverbed sediments to inform modelling efforts. Collaborators at UWM are Dr. Matthew Ginder-Vogel (Principal Investigator), Dr. Eric Roden (Co-Principal Investigator), Dr. Steven P. Loheide (Co-Principal Investigator), Stephanie Napieralski (Postdoctoral Fellow), and Ecenur Bulur (MSc student).

At PNNL site, Evan Van Arntzen (Co-Principal Investigator) is leading the project field work and the method for measuring POM deposition in the hyporheic zone is shown in video below.

This project is funded by the US Department of Energy - Biological and Environmental Research. The project public abstract can be found here.
 

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