Research

The Watershed Hydrology Lab is situated within the Department of Geology at Kent State University. Dr. Jefferson is also affiliated with the Center for Ecology and Natural Resource Sustainability at KSU. Currently funded projects focus on storm water management and green infrastructure, stable water isotopes, and groundwater-stream interactions

Stormwater Management at the Site, Street, and Watershed Scale

With funding from Cleveland Metroparks and Kent State University, our research group is exploring the effectiveness of different types of green infrastructure on mitigating stormwater flows and improving water quality in northeast Ohio urban watersheds. Graduate student Laura Sugano is comparing five green infrastructure installations at the Cleveland Metroparks Watershed Stewardship Center, in collaboration with Lauren Kinsman-Costello and Reid Coffman.Post-doctoral scholar Pedro Avellaneda is using the surrounding West Creek watershed as a test bed for modeling the effectiveness of green infrastructure at the watershed scale under present and future climates. His work is building on the work done by graduate Kimm Jarden on the effects of street-scale green infrastructure retrofits on stormwater hydrology. Bioswales capturing street runoff and rain gardens and rain barrels collecting roof runoff have been installed on two residential streets in the City of Parma’s West Creek watershed. Using a paired watershed approach, she examined the effectievness of this retrofit in reducing peak flows and total stormflow volumes. You can read about the results of her work in a paper in Hydrological Processes, or the accompanying press release. You can also read about the social science dimensions of the project in an open-access paper in Cities and the Environment.

Stormwater wetland, sodded slope, and new houses

Stormwater wetland in Charlotte, NC. Photo by A. Jefferson, December 2011.

Funded by NSF’s Environmental Sustainability program from 2011-2015, Anne was part of an interdisciplinary team investigating the influence of stormwater management structures on ecological function in urban
streams. This project was in collaboration with Sara McMillan at Purdue, Sandra Clinton at UNC Charlotte, and Christina (Naomi) Tague at UC Santa Barbara. We used a combination of monitoring and modeling to understand the cumulative, downstream effects of stormwater control structures on urban stream hydrology, biogeochemistry, and ecology. Among the questions we sought to answer with this project are: “How does the spatial pattern of land development and stormwater control within a watershed affect the hydrology and nutrient export in urban streams?” “Is there a critical threshold for the percent of watershed area treated by stormwater structures in order to produce meaningful hydrological and ecological benefits of stormwater management?” and “How do different types of stormwater control measures affect temperature surges in urban streams?”. Papers are still coming out of this project, but you can read about a new method for using stable water isotopes to identify the contributions of stormwater control measures to receiving streams, the hydrologic response to stormwater control across 16 urban watersheds, and how stormwater control measures change urban stream nutrient and carbon concentrations.

Water Stable Isotopes

Our current project, “Bridging the Conceptual Divide Between Theoretical and Applied Environmental Chemistry”, is funded by NSF’s DUE TUES, began in September 2012 and will run until 2017. PIs on the project are Anne Jefferson, Liz Griffith, Joe Ortiz, and David Dees. We developed curriculum that uses water isotope data for several upper level Earth Science classes. This curriculum enables students to run the Picarro Water Isotope Analyzer (in Anne’s lab) and analyze their own data in an effort to improve student understanding of course material. We have also explored ways to transfer our curricular activities to institutions that do not have isotope analytical capabilities. If you are a faculty member at another university and would like to test our materials (either with your own isotope analyzer or without), please contact Anne. You can see the materials and methods for the Rayleigh distillation module in this open access publication, and you can see all of the data and analysis for the isotope hydrograph separation module on the SERC website. You can also visit the project website: https://sites.google.com/a/kent.edu/d-edgeo/.

We are also applying water stable isotope techniques to our work on stormwater management and groundwater-stream interactions.

Forested stream with piezometers

Our forested, unrestored stream during a tracer injection, March 2012. Photo by A. Jefferson.

Groundwater-Stream Interactions in Restored Streams

Funded by the NC Water Resources Research Institute, Sandra Clinton, Craig Allan, and I investigated how stream restoration alters patterns of transient storage in forested and urban streams. Our goal is to separately quantify surface transient storage (e.g., pools) and hyporheic exchange and understand how the two types of storage lead to ecological and water quality differences between streams. Mackenzie Osypian was the graduate student on the project, and she earned her M.S. degree in Civil Engineering at UNC Charlotte in spring 2013. In December 2013, Anne gave a talk on the project at AGU, and there is a manuscript in revision.

With funding from the Ohio Water Resources Center, graduate student Stuart Baker examined how hyporheic exchange, nutrient uptake, and microbial biomass respond to common stream restoration practices. The goal of our research is to determine the effectiveness of restoration in enhancing hyporheic flow and associated biogeochemical processes to improve water quality. This project is in the data analysis stage.

Restoration structure with riparian vegetation

Restored riffle in Plum Creek, Kent, OH. Photo by A. Jefferson, September 2012.

Graduate student Krista Booth examined the hydrogeology and water quality in two streams where low-head dams were removed several years ago. Reservoirs deposits now exposed by dam removal are a novel hydrologic environment that can create wetlands and riparian groundwater exchanges with potential water quality effects, but we have limited understanding of how these environments behave. This project is in the data analysis stage.

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