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  • Dryland Ecohydrology

    Life in dryland savanna ecosystems is reliant on the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall. In order to understand the impacts of changes in rainfall on woody vegetation patterns, our group has developed a set of modeling approaches that combine existing stochastic soil water balance models with a resource trade-off hypothesis pertaining to the organization of dryland vegetation communities. This framework has provided a mathematically tractable optimization problem which we have applied to southern African savannas, the Rio Salado basin in the US southwest, and a central Kenyan ecosystem.

  • Isotope Hydrology

    Understanding the coupled interactions between hydrology and ecology requires new measurements of environmental process at the landscape level. To this end we are beginning to use stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen as a tool for partitioning land surface water vapor fluxes into evaporation and transpiration components. We have recently constructed a new eddy flux tower in Likipia, Kenya which will be outfitted with a laser-based isotope analyzer from Los Gatos Research. This instrument allows continuous δ18O and δ2H measurements (1 Hz) in water vapor. It has great potential to answer both theoretical (e.g., kinetic fractionations in soil evaporation) and practical questions (e.g., the effect of vegetation structure on evaporation/transpiration partition).

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab SURP grant received

PhD student Cynthia Gerlein-Safdi was recently awarded a 1-year award from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab’s Strategic University Research Partnership program!  These grants provide up to $100,000 for cutting edge earth science research conducted by JPL scientists and their chosen collaborators at one of JPL’s 12 partnering universities.

For this project, Cynthia will be collaborating with David Thompson from JPL. They plan to combine QuikSCAT active microwave remote sensing data with the AVIRIS Next Generation data over California to advance remote sensing of tree canopy water, improving our ability to map ecophysiology, water stress, drought response, and fire risk.

CaylorLab work featured in new short film

Mount Kenya is one of the major water towers in Kenya, but with an increase in population and water demand, the pressure on this scare commodity has been on the rise. Kelly Caylor and PhD student Drew Gower, along with Tom Evans from Indiana University, have been working together on an extensive socio-hydrological research project, in which 752 households were surveyed on water related issues. In parallel, farmer water flows were surveyed weekly for six months, and the pipe networks mapped. The biophysical data was analyzed together with the social data in order to determine the efficiency of the water distribution, and the reasons behind flow variability.

To learn more about the project, check out Matteo Dell’Angelo‘s short film below, and read the full-length article in National Geographic HERE.

Cynthia Gerlein-Safdi receives Mary and Randall Hack ‘69 Graduate Award

Cynthia Gerlein-Safdi just got awarded the Mary and Randall Hack ‘69 Graduate Award by the Princeton Environmental Institute. The Mary and Randall Hack ’69 Award provides research funding to support Princeton University graduate students pursuing innovative research on water and water-related topics with implications for the environment. Cynthia is planning on using the award for her project mapping dew formation in tropical forests using the QuikSCAT satellite.

See the PEI announcement HERE.

Frances O’Donnell starting as assistant professor at Auburn University

Caylor Lab alumni Frances O’Donnell will be starting this fall as an assistant professor of hydrologic engineering in the Department of Civil Engineering at Auburn University.  Her position is part of the Climate, Human and Earth System Sciences (CHESS) cluster hire, which facilitates an interdisciplinary, systems approach to understanding, predicting, and reacting to changes in coupled human-earth systems across multi-scales from local to global.  She says she is looking forward to bringing the experience she gained as a postdoc at NAU in studying the eco- and sociohydrology of managed, fire-adapted forests to new challenges in the Southeast.  She is joining fellow Princeton CEE alum Lauren Beckingham on the Auburn CE faculty.

Congrats Frances!

New “Campus as a Lab” project

Kelly Caylor, and Forrest Meggers, assistant professor of architecture and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, just got selected for a new “Campus as a Lab” project. Their plan is to design and deploy a network of sensors throughout campus to understand the dynamic interplay between indoor and outdoor environments, and to use the information to improve building design.

The Innovation Fund for the Campus as a Lab is co-sponsored with the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Princeton Environmental Institute, the Office of the Dean of the College, and the High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund.

See the official announcement HERE.