WSU Vancouver’s office of Research has funded several exciting research infrastructure proposals that will directly and indirectly support environmental research on our campus. These include: 1) a core facility in Environmental Mapping, 2) a research vehicle, and 3) improved high-performance computing access. The Environmental Mapping core facility will include a bathymetric system and a hyperspectral camera for airborne deployment. A fourth proposal to purchase equipment in support of cell and molecular research was also funded.
In a new study of six Pacific Northwest reservoirs (available via open access here) we document substantial increases in emissions of methane, a powerful
greenhouse gas, during drawdowns for power generation, flood control, irrigation, and maintenance.
We saw at least a three-fold increase in methane emissions via bubbling and diffusion during drawdowns. In Lacamas Lake, one of the study reservoirs, emissions surged more than 6,000-fold.
We also did a side-by-side comparison of two similar reservoirs and saw that the one with drawdowns released three times more methane than a reservoir located just upstream where water levels were held constant.
A related study released last year, led by Harrison Lab alum Bridget Deemer, found that, collectively, the world’s reservoirs have a greater greenhouse warming impact than all of Canada. The new study suggests steps that might be taken to reduce methane emissions from reservoirs such as timing drawdowns to follow periods when lake oxygen levels could help facilitate the breakdown of methane. It also raises questions regarding whether reservoir drawdowns have been sufficiently considered in recent efforts to estimate methane emissions from reservoirs.
The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has generously offered to provide $171,500 toward the purchase of two analytical instruments that together will greatly expand WSU Vancouver’s analytical capabilities: an Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) and an Ion Chromatograph (IC). We are optimistic that these instruments will be available to researchers on a fee basis beginning early in 2017 — stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, we are very excited about the potential to use these instruments to characterize water quality, elemental transfers, and biogeochemical transformations!
The new study synthesizes reservoir CH4, CO2, and N2O emission data with three main objectives: (1) generate a global estimate of GHG emissions from reservoirs, (2) identify the best predictors of these emissions, and (3) consider the effect of methodology on emission estimates.
The study finds that greenhouse gas emissions from reservoir surfaces account for 0.8 Pg CO2 equivalents per year, with the majority (~80%) of this forcing due to CH4.
The paper was highlighted as the “Editor’s Choice” and is accompanied by a nice podcast interview with study lead-author Bridget Deemer.
A new paper synthesizing information about reservoir greenhouse gas emissions led by Bridget Deemer is set to appear in BioScience next Wednesday, October 5. The paper is already attracting some attention from the press and has been featured in Science Magazine, the Washington Post, the Seattle Times, Popular Science, the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Oregon Public Broadcasting, and the Vancouver Columbian.
Here is a link to the WSU press release.
A 4-year, $3 million collaborative proposal to study the Food-Energy-Water Nexus in the Columbia River Basin (Harrison Co-PI) was recently approved for funding. Our group is now seeking a Ph.D. student to work on understanding and modeling interactions between water, food, and energy in the Pacific Northwest U.S.. This large, interdisciplinary, multi-investigator project has the following overarching aims:
Aim 1: develop a theoretical foundation characterizing our region’s FEW system that is generalizable to national and global scales
Aim 2: integrate state-of-the-science computational models to capture FEW system interactions
Aim 3: evaluate FEW solutions (identifying ancillary benefits or unintended consequences) using the modeling platforms
Aim 4: utilize a two-way stakeholder engagement approach to develop new strategies and remove barriers to strategy adoption
Bridget will be starting an exciting postdoctoral position with the USGS in Flagstaff next month. Good luck Bridget!!
The most recent issue of the WSU Vancouver Alumni Magazine NW Crimson and Gray has just published a nice article highlighting some of our recent work, available here.