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WyCEHG|Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics

Mountain Lakes and Climate

One of the greatest uncertainties about future climate change relates to water supply, and paleohydrologic studies offer an opportunity to constrain the possible responses by evaluating how hydrologic systems have responded to past climate change episodes. However, the response also depends on the characteristics of and the interactions within the hydrologic system itself. Consequently, different portions of the hydrologic ‘landscape’ may respond in different ways, and thus alter hydrologic gradients and connectivity with implications for the flows of sediment, nutrients, energy, and species.

The characteristics of the Snowies, including its history, provide for natural experiments, which can be used to elucidate:

A)  How evapotranspiration rates responded to past temperature changes (both gradual and abrupt);

B)  How changes in snowpack and vegetation mediated the hydrologic responses to the overall shifts in evaporation and precipitation;

C)  How factors such as regolith thickness and bedrock fracturing mediated the the hydrologic responses.

By comparing the water-level histories of a network of lakes across the Snowies, we can test expectations about the hydrologic response to past high temperatures.

Mountain Lakes and Climate

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