Welcome to the Ecohydrology Lab at UCSB!

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The Tague EcoHydrology lab focuses on watershed research, addressing the feedbacks among terrestrial vegetation, surface hydrological processes, and atmospheric conditions. We use a variety of techniques to examine the impact of changes in climate and land use on ecosystem health and water resources.
Please scroll through our blog below to see what we’ve been up to!

All are welcome to attend our weekly lab meetings and take part in presentations and scientific discussions. See our Lab meeting schedule & events page for information on each week’s topic or presenter. Meetings are held in the Bren hall lab wing, room 1005.

AGU 2014 schedule of eco-hydro lab affiliated presenters

See our lab schedule and event calendar on this site for AGU 2014 meeting presentations and posters by eco-hydro lab members and RHESSys affiliated presenters. If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve been up to, please come check out our research at the upcoming Fall AGU meeting December 15 – 19, 2014 in San Francisco. Please join us on Wednesday evening, 12/17 at 6:00, at City Beer Store for a RHESSys community happy hour.

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See our album on facebook for additional photos from AGU2013

EcoHydro Lab in the field

Members of the Tague EcoHydrology lab visited the Rattlesnake Canyon Wilderness Area, just outside of downtown Santa Barbara, to see oaks, sycamore, chaparral, and Mission Creek. Geography post-doc Sara Baguskas gave a demonstration of a pressure chamber instrument and how measurements of plant moisture stress (or plant water potential) are taken. Environmental studies PhD student Erin Hanan discussed characteristics of the chaparral vegetation and soils.

EcoHydro Lab in the field

EcoHydro Lab in the field


See more photos in the field
Rattlesnake Canyon Park
Pressure Chamber Instrument

Elizabeth Garcia final PhD defense seminar

All are welcome and encouraged to come here Elizabeth Garcia defend on Friday, Dec. 5th, in Ellison Hall room 4824.
TITLE: Ecohydrologic Modeling in Three Western U.S. Mountain Watersheds: Implications of Climate, Soil, and Carbon Cycling Interactions for Streamflow.
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ABSTRACT: This dissertation explores ecohydrologic interactions in western U.S. catchments using a process-based model. My research focuses on understanding how model estimates of two key components of the hydrologic budget, evapotranspiration and streamflow, are influenced by soil and vegetation physiological characteristics in three watersheds. These watersheds are located in the Oregon Cascades, California Sierra Nevada, and Colorado Rocky Mountains. Water availability in these systems is driven on a first order by annual precipitation. The majority of their precipitation is received in the winter and their forests are generally water-limited in the summer. However, they differ in the magnitude of annual precipitation received, the fraction of winter precipitation received as snow, and their seasonal energy demands. The response of these ecosystems to inter-annual climate variation is also a function of soil storage and ecophysiological characteristics. I will present research motivated by three research questions. How do soil characteristics and climate interact to influence forest water availability? How do uncertainties in forest ecophysiology, carbon allocation strategy, and their interaction effect mature forest carbon and streamflow estimates? Finally, how do climate and carbon allocation strategy influence the rate of forest growth and streamflow recovery following a disturbance? I use a physically-based model, the Regional Hydro-Ecologic Simulation System, to address these questions. Results indicate that the influence of soil storage on evapotranspiration’s sensitivity to climate drivers varies across sites. In the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, low soil storage increases the sensitivity of annual ET to climate drivers. Evapotranspiration in Colorado, which is water-limited but has a summer monsoonal pulse, is not sensitive to changes in soil storage. Estimates of forest carbon sequestration differ significantly between three carbon allocation strategies in mature (100-300) forests. Biomass estimates for leaf and fine root pools were strongly sensitive to allocation strategy and ecophysiological characteristics in the Sierra Nevada watershed. Streamflow estimates in this drier watershed are also more sensitive to vegetation. I show that the effect of allocation strategy effects estimates of recovery in forest LAI and streamflow more than climate variability at all three sites. This research contributes to the coupled ecosystem modeling community’s understanding of key processes that influence our ability to predict water resources.

RHESSys Training Workshop

RHESSys lab manager Janet Choate conducted a two day RHESSys training workshop Nov. 12/13. In attendance were UCSB Bren PhD students Ian McCullough and Brian Kastl, UC Berkeley Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD student Gabrielle Boisrame, U of CO. Boulder Geography PhD student Theo Barnhart, and U of NV. Reno Geological Sciences and Engineering masters student Rowan Gaffney.

Dr. Tague lecture at the Global Institute for water Security, U. of Saskatchewan

Naomi Tague was invited to present “Forest eco-hydrology and drought: Why geology matters!” at the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Institute for Water Security as part of their “Breakthroughs in Water Security Research: The Global Institute for Water Security Distinguished Lecture Series”. This is a weekly seminar series that brings top water researches from around the world to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
Distinguished Lecture Series
Watch Dr. Tague’s lecture here

CA Naturalist Program Presentation

Naomi Tague presented “Climate, Drought, and Forests” to the CA Naturalist group at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden. The mission of the California Naturalist Program is to foster a diverse community of naturalists and promote stewardship of California’s natural resources through education and service. The California Naturalist training is an innovative new program developed by the University of California Cooperative Extension to foster a committed corps of volunteer naturalists and citizen scientists trained and ready to take an active role in natural resource conservation, education, and restoration. The 10 week course provides the foundation for docent training at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, Sedgwick Reserve and other natural areas of the Santa Barbara region. Dr. Tague was invited to lecture at their ‘water’ class.
California Naturalists
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
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Publication: Snow and the Sierra’s

RHESSys was used in two Sierra Nevada study catchments to simulate how future warming could affect the relationship between winter snowpacks and summer low flows. The influences of groundwater storage, snowmelt, evapotranspiration rates, and precipitation phase (snow vs rain) on catchment response to warming are considered. The research was published in Hydrological Processes in the paper “Effects of changes in winter snowpacks on summer low flows: case studies in the Sierra Nevada, California, USA”

Read all about it at:
Godsey S. E., Kirchner J. W., and Tague C. L. (2014), Effects of changes in winter snowpacks on summer low flows: case studies in the Sierra Nevada, California, USA, Hydrol. Process., 28, pages 5048–5064, doi: 10.1002/hyp.9943

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BHS Presentation – Challenging hydrological theory and practice

Dr. Naomi Tague was a keynote speaker at the 12th British Hydrological Society National Symposium, held September 2-4 at the University of Birmingham, England. The theme of this years symposium was Challenging hydrological theory and practice. Dr. Tague presented “Consequences of warming temperatures and shifts in precipitation regimes for snow-dominated mountain systems”. In a duo keynote address, Naomi debated with co-keynote speaker Ross Woods about what happens to forest water use as snow dominated systems transition to rain.
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Visit the BHS conference website