2010 Seed Grant Awards

2010 CGRER Seed Grants - $149,997

Remote Sensing Based Distributed Hydrologic Modeling in Midwestern Landscapes for Predicting “Tile-to-Tide” Responses – Nandita Basu, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Marc Linderman, Department of Geography, University of Iowa

This project will explore the use of remote sensing (RS) products (MODIS) for developing parsimonious hydrologic models that can then be used in conjunction with water quality modules (that will be developed later) to evaluate impacts of dynamic land-use shifts under alternate energy production scenarios. The Threshold Exceedance Lagrangian Model (TELM) is unique in its ability to identify functionally homogeneous units in the watershed, and predict streamflow, without calibration, using hydrologic attributes specific to tile-drained Midwestern watersheds. Integration of RS with TELM will enhance its ability to predict spatial patterns of runoff generation, which in turn will improve distributed estimates of contaminant load (e.g., N and P) generation and potential impacts of bio-energy driven land-use changes. Simplicity of the model and lack of calibration renders it a useful tool for prediction across scales, from a single tile to the Mississippi Basin.  $29,997


Sustaining the biodiversity of coral reefs: evolutionary insight from coral skeletons - A. F. Budd, Department of Geoscience, University of Iowa,

Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems, and are increasingly threatened by climate change, ocean acidification, and local anthropogenetic disturbance. Despite the ecological importance and threatened status of the corals that build reef framework, their evolutionary history is poorly understood. Recent molecular analyses disagree with the traditional taxonomy of reef corals, prompting paleontologists to search for new morphological features that better agree with molecular data. The most promising involve skeletal micromorphology and microstructure; however, the effect of environmental factors on growth of these features is uncertain. The proposed project will conduct two laboratory experiments testing the effect of light intensity on these features in four coral species. This pilot study will lay the groundwork for future experiments on skeletal growth, which will be used to examine the relationship between evolution and environmental change over the past 50 million years.  $30,000

Climate Change Effects on Trophic Interactions in Montane Meadow Systems – Diane Debinski, Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University

Ecological effects of climate change can include advancement of spring events, shifts in species distribution patterns, and phenological changes. Studying these responses under field conditions can require decades of research. However, butterflies provide an excellent model system for examining these issues over shorter times because of their tight relationship with host plants, short generation times, and sensitivity to changing conditions. We will establish experimental manipulations using snow removal and passive heating to mimic the effects of predicted climate change and measure the responses of Parnassius clodius, a common montane butterfly, and its host plant (Dicentra uniflora) in Grand Teton National Park. Growth and timing of emergence and maturity of P. clodius and D. uniflora will be measured. This research will provide insights into the effects of warming and drying conditions on plant‐insect interactions and the results will be valuable for understanding potential climate‐related trophic impacts in other ecological systems.  $30,000

Feedbacks Between Agriculture and Climate Revealed Through the Coupling of an Agricultural Land Surface Model to a Regional Climate Model – Brian K. Hornbuckle, Department of Agronomy, Jason C. Patton, Raymond W. Arritt and Eugene S. Takle, Iowa State University

Changes in the regional climate of the U.S. Midwest may impact agriculture. Changes in agricultural practices may also impact future climate by modifying the local land surface water, carbon, and energy cycles. The specific nature of these impacts cannot be anticipated with current regional climate models (RCMs) for two main reasons. First, RCMs do not include many of the specific processes that influence the movement of water, carbon, and energy between the land and atmosphere in agricultural landscapes. Second, RCMs do not allow their own climate to influence how crops develop over the growing season. We propose to couple a recently–developed agroecosystem model, Agro–IBIS, with an RCM in order to correctly simulate the feedbacks between agriculture and climate. Our long–term goal is to use this coupled model to predict: the effects of climate change on agriculture; and how changes in agricultural practices may influence the regional climate.  $30,000

Arsenic in Iowa Groundwater:  Identifying Important Geochemical Processes – Michelle M. Scherer and Gene F. Parkin, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iowa

We request funding from CGRER to help address the emerging water quality issue of arsenic in Iowa groundwater. According to Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), there are 69 public water supplies that utilize groundwater with arsenic concentrations greater than the recommended limit and in a recent survey 473 private wells in Iowa, 48% were found to contain arsenic. We propose to help address the issue of arsenic in groundwater by conducting laboratory experiments to better understand the geochemical processes controlling the release of arsenic from soils to groundwater. The requested funding would be used to support Angela Brown, a Master’s student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Specifically, we propose to (i) implement analytical techniques for measuring arsenic speciation in water and soils, and (ii) identify geochemical processes important for arsenic release from soils.  $30,000


Friday, January 1, 2010