CWC's Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition (ICCE): Measuring Black Carbon, Water Quality, and Water Quantity in the Dinwoody Cirque

Hartman, Grace
O'Sullivan, S.
Adderhold, T.
The effects of ongoing climate change provoke glacial recession in Wyoming's high alpine environment, specifically the Dinwoody Cirque. This study investigates the impacts of water quality, seasonal water flow, and snow albedo on the alpine ecosystem and local communities. There are two prior seasons of CWC research data associated with water contamination and snow albedo, but this is the first data set to include flow data. The 2016 analysis for E.coli - a surface bacterial indicator organism - revealed negative presence in all ten surface water samples, identical to the 2015 results. The 2016 water flow measurements were taken below the Dinwoody Cirque and ranged from .81 to 1.63 cubic meters per second (cms). These initial seven points provide comparable data to analyze the rate of future glacial melt. Black carbon, a powerful light-absorbing particle, is the strongest contributor in snow albedo reduction. Using field sampling and laboratory analysis methods provided by Dr. Carl Schmitt (National Center for Atmospheric Research), 22 samples were collected from glacial terrain and nearby snowfields. The results for effective black carbon (eBC) amounts for 2016 contrast sharply across years. Samples from 2014 and 2015 revealed an average value of 30 ng/g of eBC, whereas the 2016 results indicated an average of 193 ng/g. The reason for this increase is still being explored. Additional water quality, flow measurements, and black carbon sampling will be performed to document and assess the hydrological changes associated with glacial recession due to climate change.
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