Image: Article cover for Under Where? Underground Water and Its Contribution to Streams. From the Natural Inquirer, Freshwater Edition, Volume 18. Photo courtesy USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. [Click image to enlarge]
A study by Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory researchers was featured in a recent issue of Natural Inquirer, a middle school science education journal. The article, Under Where? Underground Water and Its Contribution to Streams, highlights how researchers Fengjing Liu, Carolyn Hunsaker, and Roger Bales are using chemistry tools to understand where stream water comes from. Under Where? is based on research published by the team in 2012.
In the study, the Liu, Hunsaker, and Bales compared the amount of water that different sources contribute to streams: snowmelt, rainfall runoff, groundwater, and soil water. The team also considered if and how the contributions of these stream water sources can change. These water-sourcing relationships are important to understand because average temperatures in California and across the world are increasing, and with that the amount of precipitation falling as rain versus snow is changing too.
Figure 10 from Under Where? in Natural Inquirer. As elevation increases, an area’s climate gets cooler and snow may fall often in the winter months. Illustration by Stephanie Pfeiffer.
Under Where? and other articles in Natural Inquirer are designed to be easily incorporated into science classrooms. The journal uses language appropriate for middle school students, providing definitions, images, and tables to explain complex studies in a way that students can understand. Career profiles explain what Liu, Hunsaker, and Bales's research interests are. The article also includes understanding and reflection questions that students can answer as part of a lesson. Download the article, read a sample lesson plan, and explore more on the article's webpage.
Written by Michelle Gilmore
Under Where? Underground Water and Its Contribution to Streams
(8 MB pdf)
Controls of streamflow generation in small catchments across the snow-rain transition in the Southern Sierra Nevada, California . Liu, F., Hunsaker, C.T., and Bales, R.C. (2012): Hydrological Processes. 27 1959.