The “blue book” has been updated and you can read and download a pre-publication PDF on the National Academies’ website for free. I’ve just been listening to a CUAHSI webinar summarizing the report, and I was please to see that a lot of the questions I’m interested in were highlighted by the committee that updated the report. For instance, there was specific mention of urban hydrology (and how changes to flowpaths and quantity alter water quality), the co-evolution of hydrology, landscapes, and life, and the need to understand the controls on the low flow extent of streams. I’ll be reading sections of this report in coming months, and if you want to get a sense of the state of hydrologic science, you would probably do well to start here too.

Posted by: Anne Jefferson | February 29, 2012

Brandon Blue proposal defense, Thursday, 9:30 am

Watershed Hydrogeology Lab student Brandon Blue will defend his project proposal on Thursday morning, March 1st, at 9:30 am in Cameron room 250. Brandon’s proposal is titled: Seasonal Urban Stream Temperature Response to Storm Events Within the Northern Piedmont of North Carolina.

Please join us for the public presentation of the proposed work or wish Brandon well when you see him.

Posted by: Anne Jefferson | February 1, 2012

Recent Happenings in the Watershed Hydrogeology Lab

Some highlights from the end of last year and the beginning of the new year in our research group:

  • Alea successfully defended her thesis proposal in November, and is hoping to finish the thesis itself this spring.
  • We all benefited from time with our UCSB collaborators in December, and  we’ve got lots of ideas for how to use the RHESSys model to capture the dynamics of our urban waters. Colin is looking forward to a follow-up visit from Janet Choate in February, for more hands-on help getting RHESSys going.
  • Mackenzie  has bravely decided to add a MODFLOW component to her research on stream restoration and hyporheic exchange.  She’s taking a groundwater modeling class this spring and reading papers like Wondzell, S. M., J. LaNier, R. Haggerty, R. D. Woodsmith, and R. T. Edwards (2009), Changes in hyporheic exchange flow following experimental wood removal in a small, low-gradient stream, Water Resour. Res., 45, W05406, doi:10.1029/2008WR007214.
  • Christine is using time this semester to write her thesis proposal on bankfull hydraulic geometry and recurrence intervals in stable urban stream reaches.
  • Ralph McGee rejoined the group as a part-time technician on the Stormwater project. Ralph is now responsible for maintaining our ISCOs, Levelloggers, and Tidbits and collecting samples following storm events. As time allows, he’ll also be helping run some of the chemistry analyses and developing rating curves. Ralph is also working for other faculty in the department on an assortment of hydrologic research projects.
  • Anne got funding to inject the resazurin tracer into our reaches in the Beaver Dam watersheds over the summer. Anne and Mackenzie will also be adding more riparian wells to these reaches as well. Anne is also teaching Hydrogeology to 17 enthusiastic students this semester.
  • Sara McMillan is on maternity leave this semester.
  • And! Anne has finally gotten around to partially updating her webpage. Check out the projects, people, and pubs sections for up-to-date information.
Posted by: Anne Jefferson | January 25, 2012

Watch Anne talk about channel initiation at AGU 2011

I gave two talks at the AGU meeting in San Francisco in December. One talk was in session “EP31G Predictive Understanding of Coupled Interactions Among Water, Life, and Landforms II”, and it was recorded and made available on Vimeo. While all the talks in the session were extremely interesting, if you want to skip to me, go to about 31 minutes and 30 seconds into the video.

EP31G : AGU Fall Meeting 2011 from American Geophysical Union on Vimeo.

Posted by: Anne Jefferson | January 25, 2012

Another Water REU at Virginia Tech

Dynamics of Water and Societal Systems

An Interdisciplinary Research Program at the Virginia Tech StREAM Lab

2012 NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

June 4 – August 10

Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia


Application will be Reviewed Starting February 29th, 2012


Applications are invited from qualified and motivated undergraduate students (rising sophomores, juniors and seniors) from all U.S. colleges/universities to participate in a novel, interdisciplinary, 10-week summer research program at Virginia Tech centered within the university’s Stream Research, Education, and Management Laboratory (StREAM Lab). All REU fellows will serve within several interconnected group projects dealing with issues of water sustainability, ecosystem resilience, and environmental stewardship. As our REU fellows address their specific research questions, they will be mentored by interdisciplinary faculty groups, providing them with a rich and unique perspective on their specific target issues, as well as a more mature and holistic view of watershed management.

U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents are eligible to apply. Successful applicants may be current students in a number of relevant engineering, science, and social science undergraduate disciplines. The research program is funded through the National Science Foundation – Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) program. The 10-week internship will begin on June 03, 2012 (arrival day) at Virginia Tech and end on August 10, 2012 (departure day). The research internship includes a stipend of $4000, subsistence costs (dormitory and most of the meals) and round trip travel expenses (up to $500) per person to Virginia Tech. In addition, expenses will be covered for travel to a conference, most likely the American Ecological Engineering Society conference in Syracuse, NY (June 7-9).

For application materials and more information:

Application materials should be submitted via email to:


Research Activities: Although specific research questions will differ for each cohort of fellows, this REU will broadly focus on introducing students to the complex interactions between the natural Stroubles Creek watershed system and the upland anthropomorphic influences of the Blacksburg and Virginia Tech communities. Fellows will also be encouraged to develop critical thinking and communication skills through a series of “Society and Science” evening lectures and discussions designed to promote cross-disciplinary interactions and networking, and through the guided design of outreach activities intended to engage minority middle school students in summer science camps.

We will begin reviewing application submission on February 29, 2012. Successful applicants will be informed by March 19, 2012. Please contact Dr. W. Cully Hession (540-231-9480; or Dr. Leigh Anne Krometis (540-231-4372; for more information or with any questions. [NSF-Engineering Education and Centers #1156688]

Undergraduates – Are you looking for a way to gain research experience and get an edge on grad school preparedness? Are you interested in water? Then check out these two opportunities to spend the summer studying water science and engineering.  I know a couple of faculty at Virgnia Tech, and I can highly recommend working with them. The program at Florida sounds good too. 


Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
Application Deadline February 24, 2012

Applications are invited from qualified and motivated undergraduate
students (rising sophomores, juniors and seniors) from all U.S.
colleges/universities to participate in a 10-week (June 03-August 10,
2012) summer research in interdisciplinary water sciences and
engineering at Virginia Tech. We have already graduated 36 excellent
undergraduate researchers from our site during 2007, 2008, 2009, and
2011. Application materials, details of ten Research Mentors along
with possible research projects and other program activities are
posted on following website:

Example Projects:

Natural Attenuation of Contaminants in Groundwater
Hydrology and Hydraulics Impacts on Ecological Health of Surface Waters
Bacterial Contamination of Water Distribution and Plumbing Pipelines
Water Quality for Human Health and Aesthetics
Investigation of Occurrence and Fate of Organic Contaminants in a
Watershed Impacted by Urban Development
Hypolimnetic Oxygenation:  Coupling Bubble-Plume and Reservoir Models
Design and Application of a Real-Time Water Monitoring System
Water-Energy Nexus and Decentralized Water Infrastructure
Bioremediation of Oil Spills
Analysis of Patterns of Macroinvertebrate Density and Distribution
in Strouble’s Creek

Deadline for application submission is February 24, 2012. Successful
applicants will be informed by March 12, 2012. Please contact Dr.
Vinod K Lohani (phone: (540)231-9545; FAX: (540) 231-6903; for questions

The University of Florida invites applications for an interdisciplinary research program in water resources from undergraduate students in their sophomore, junior, and senior years, majoring in engineering or related fields in science and math. Selected students will conduct hands-on research projects for eight weeks, involving field/laboratory experiments, theory, and computer modeling. The students will be distributed across Florida during the program. This unique program combines research and extension experiences in water resources to help convey research results for better water management.
PROGRAM: June 11 – August 3, 2012. Includes all travel expenses, stipend, housing, and meals.
ELIGIBILITY: US citizens or permanent residents who are in their sophomore/junior/senior year of study. Students at non-research institutions and those who are underrepresented in engineering and science are particularly encouraged to apply.
CONTACT: Mr. Daniel Preston (
Deadline of receipt is February 1, 2012.
Application form and instructions available online at
Posted by: Anne Jefferson | January 2, 2012

The connection between streams and groundwater

A nice British video explaining the connection between rivers and groundwater. I can’t get the embed to work, so you’ll have to click through to watch:

This is why I say I study rivers AND groundwater – if you want to understand how water moves through a watershed, you’ve got to think about both.

Thanks to Michael Campana for sharing the link.

The following talk will be presented by Anne at the 2011 AGU fall meeting on Wednesday, December 7th from 9 to 9:15 am in the session “EP31G. Predictive Understanding of Coupled Interactions Among Water, Life, and Landforms II.” It will be in rooms 2022-2024, and the abstract acceptance said something about video on demand.

Understanding channel network extent in the North Carolina Piedmont in the context of legacy land use, flow generation processes, and landscape dissection

Anne J. Jefferson and Ralph W. McGee
Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Nearly all land in the eastern US Piedmont region was cleared for intensive agriculture following European settlement, but some areas have been afforested over the last century. In these areas, an extensive ephemeral stream network drains into perennial headwater streams. In order to understand the present-day functioning of the ephemeral network in afforested watersheds, we mapped 102 channel head positions at 6 sites and monitored 6 channels at 2 sites in North Carolina’s Piedmont. The ephemeral channels are activated by subsurface flow from high intensity precipitation with wet or dry soils, or long duration precipitation with wet soils. Overland flow does not occur upslope of channel heads in forested watersheds, but it is observed in present-day pastures and fields.

Channel head contributing areas range from 0.1 – 3.0 ha, with local slopes that average 0.13 (range: 0.04 – 0.36). The relationship between slope and area at the channel heads has the form c = AS1.1, with an exponent much lower than the commonly reported exponent of ~2 that is associated with subsurface or saturation overland flow. Instead, the lower exponent may reflect the legacy of 18th-19th century of intense land use and degraded cover, which may have produced turbulent overland flow upslope of channels. Though established by relict land use conditions, we suggest that this network extent is maintained by the frequent activation of the channels through subsurface flow under forest cover. Further, channel heads are located within or downslope of colluvial hollows suggesting that gullying from historical land use is not the most extensive channel network experienced by the Piedmont over the course its landscape evolution, and that the dissection of the landscape may be the result of a precipitation and land cover regime much different from the modern one.

Gully down to bedrock, Morrow Mountains State Park, North Carolina (photo by A. Jefferson)

Gully down to bedrock, Morrow Mountains State Park, North Carolina (photo by A. Jefferson)

The following talk will be presented in the 2011 AGU fall meeting session on “EP41F. Posteruptive Processes Operating on Volcanic Landscapes I” on Thursday, December 8th from 9:15 to 9:30 am.

Controls on the hydrologic evolution of Quaternary volcanic landscapes
Anne J. Jefferson and Noemi d’Ozouville

1. Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, United States.
2. UMR 7619 Sisyphe CNRS & UPMC, Universite Paris 6, Paris, France.

Conceptual models that explain the evolution of young volcanic landscapes require the prominent inclusion of processes which affect partitioning of water between surface and subsurface flows. Recently emplaced lava flows have no surface drainage, with infiltration to groundwater as the dominant hydrologic process. Older volcanic landscapes are often dominated by extensive drainage networks, fed by permanent or intermittent streams, which have deeply dissected the constructional topography. Drainage density, topography, and stream and groundwater discharge provide readily quantifiable measures of hydrologic and landscape evolution on volcanic chronosequences. We will use examples from the High Cascades, Galapagos, and elsewhere to illustrate the trajectories and timescales of hydrologic evolution.

We suggest that the surface-subsurface water partitioning is a function of volcanic architecture, climate-driven processes, and water-rock interactions. We will show that in mafic volcanic areas, climate-driven processes (such as weathering and dust deposition) control landscape evolution, while explosive eruptive products may be important for local hydrology. In the High Cascades, where precipitation exceeds 2 m/yr, landscape dissection has obliterated constructional morphology within 1 million years, while in the more arid Galapagos, million year old landscapes are largely undissected. Conversely, localized groundwater perching on pyroclastic layers or paleosols has been characterized in the Galapagos, but not in the Cascades, where pyroclastic activity is more limited in extent. In areas where explosive activity, including phreatomagmatism, dominates volcanism, the evolution of hydrology and topography occurs much more rapidly than in landscapes created by effusion. Hydrothermal circulation and water-rock interactions may play an important role in reducing deep permeability and altering subsurface flowpaths in some volcanic landscapes. Observed chronosequences can be complicated by juxtaposition of different age deposits, post-emplacement faulting, uplift or subsidence, and climate change, so detailed understanding of the landscape’s geologic history is a prerequisite for appropriate interpretation of hydrologic evolution in volcanic landscapes.

Lush vegetation in a pit crater on Santa Cruz Island

A "pit crater" in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos shows preferential vegetation growth at the contact between lava flows, probably where water is more available. Photo by A. Jefferson.

At the 2011 GSA Meeting in Minneapolis next week, I’ll be presenting the following talk in the session “Monitoring and Understanding Our Landscape for the Long Term through Small Catchment Studies I: A Tribute to the Career of Owen P. Bricker.” My talk is in Minneapolis Convention Center: Room M100FG, on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 9:30 am.

Spatial variability in groundwater-stream interactions in first-order North Carolina Piedmont streams

JEFFERSON, Anne J. and MOORE, Cameron, Dept. of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte,

Groundwater upwelling and hyporheic exchange are spatially variable in three first-order Piedmont streams, resulting in variable discharge, water chemistry and temperature. Stream gradient, valley confinement, and woody debris jams appear to be the major controls on the distribution and size of upwelling zones. Temperature and specific conductance values at 25 m intervals on 18 dates revealed distinct zones of groundwater-stream interaction, confirmed by discharge and piezometer measurements. Baseflow accumulates unevenly along the streams, with upper reaches in confined valleys generally gaining discharge more rapidly than lower reaches. Elevated calcium concentrations occur in groundwater upwelling zones, such as in a 50 m reach in which baseflow triples. Near their mouths, where the streams reach a river floodplain, baseflow quantity and chemistry may be influenced by a larger groundwater system. At a smaller scale, spatial variability in stream chemistry and streambed hydraulic gradients are dominantly controlled by the size and position of woody debris jams. Fine sediment wedges extend 5-15 m upstream of the 0.25-1 m high jams, and strong down-welling hydraulic gradients occur in these areas. Upwelling of water with higher specific conductance and moderated temperatures occurs downstream of the jams. Nitrate concentrations decreased up to 50% immediately below large woody debris jams, while ammonium concentrations tended to be highest there.

Rapid urbanization in the Carolina Piedmont is drastically altering headwater catchments, but well-documented reference watersheds are lacking. The measurements described above are from three first-order streams in forested watersheds, with permanent protection by a land conservancy. Their hydrology and water chemistry demonstrates the rich spatial variability of Piedmont headwater streams, and we hope that long-term study of these sites provides useful understanding for stream restoration and watershed management.

Debris jam and sediment in a first order Deep Creek at Redlair. Photo by Cameron Moore.

Debris jam and sediment in a first order Deep Creek at Redlair. Photo by Cameron Moore.

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