Glacial Nitrogen

Kate Warner, Ben Burpee, Krista Slemmons

Collaborators: Kevin Simon (University of Auckland), Mark Skidmore (Montana State University)

Project Summary

Alpine glaciers have receded substantially over the last century in many regions of the world. Resulting changes in glacial runoff not only affect the hydrological cycle, but can also alter the biogeochemical properties of downstream ecosystems. Our research has shown that one of the key ways in which accelerating glacier melting influences alpine lakes is by subsidizing them with nitrogen with increased melt water runoff. Because lakes in alpine systems are typically nutrient poor, the fertilizer effect of nitrogen from glaciers can have large effects on the ecology of these systems. We are investigating these effects as well as the source of the nitrogen coming from glaciers.

This research takes place in the Beartooth Mountains and Glacier National Park of the US, and the south island of New Zealand. It is funded by the Gokcen Fund and a grant from the NSF ADVANCE program.

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