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Major Research Topics

Research At Niwot Ridge LTER

Green Lakes Valley looking east

Mountains are among the most fragile environments on Earth. They are also rich repositories of biodiversity and water and provide many ecosystem goods and services on which downstream communities rely. However, mountains are facing enormous pressure from various drivers of global change, including climate change and altered biogeochemistry. Under the influence of these changes, mountains are likely to experience wide ranging impacts. The overall goal of the Niwot Ridge LTER is to relate changes in the amount and timing of snow and snowmelt, along with increasing deposition of nitrogen (via pollution) and phosphorous (via dust), to changes in resource connectivity and resource limitations in a heterogeneous landscape.

Recent research in the news >>

Major Research Topics

Plant ecology

Plant ecology

The productivity of biomass by vegetation is a crucial component of the energy, carbon and nutrient fluxes that occur in ecosystems. The spatial distribution, abundance, and productivity of plants in the subalpine forest and alpine tundra are controlled by physical forces, like wind, snow, and topography, as well as...


Microbial ecology

Microbial ecology

NWT scientists are finding that an abundance of previously unknown microbes are active beneath the snow at the highest elevations in the continental US, even in rock glaciers high above the tree line in the Rocky Mountains, a barren environment previously thought to be devoid of life. This discovery of microbial...


Limnology

Limnology

NWT scientists are investigating how global changes like climate warming, nitrogen deposition, and the introduction of invasive species are altering food web dynamics within high elevation lake ecosystems. In alpine lakes, an extended summer season resulting from warmer climatic conditions will likely shift the...


Hydrology

Hydrology

Water Dynamics 

High elevation ecosystems are like water towers that store water as snow during the fall and winter and then release it as snow melt runoff in the spring and summer. The runoff provides a large quantity of high quality water, which largely drives the ecology and economy of the western US.


Geomorphology

Geomorphology

The geomorphology of the Green Lakes Valley (GLV), bound to the north by the crest of Niwot Ridge, is characteristic of alpine catchments in the Southern Rocky Mountains. The bedrock, relief and landforms of this landscape are the substrate on which the ecosystems studied at NWT have developed, and the geomorphic...


Biogeochemistry


Atmospheric science

Atmospheric science

Research Spotlight

Surface-atmosphere fluxes of carbon and water

The annual cycles of CO2 and H2O between the surface and atmosphere of alpine tundra are poorly understood, especially during the winter season since most ecological measurements are made during the summer. The eddy covariance micrometeorological...


Animal ecology

Animal ecology

Animals that live in the alpine zone survive on the razor's edge of environmental tolerances, often making them more sensitive to changes in climate than in lower elevation ecosystems. Research at NWT indicates that in the alpine zone, the growth and survival of animals, like pikas and marmots, and the phenology of...


Kiowa Lab

The Arikaree Environmental Laboratory

The Arikaree Environmental Laboratory

The Arikaree Environmental Laboratory (AEL) is the environmental chemistry laboratory for the Niwot Ridge/Green Lakes Valley Long-Term Ecological Research Program. The lab analyzes snow, water, and soil samples from alpine and subalpine ecosystems for major solutes, nutrients, and isotopes. 

AEL is located in CU...


Mountain Research Station

Mountain Research Station

The Mountain Research Station (MRS) was founded in 1921 as an interdisciplinary facility of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at CU Boulder. Located in the Front Range of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, the MRS is devoted to the advancement of the study of mountain ecosystems and provides research...

Mountain Research Station (External Link)


Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research

Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research

As the University's oldest institute, the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) has a long history of responding to pressing environmental issues. Our traditional focus has been on polar and alpine regions, where effects of global change are especially pronounced. In recent decades, our research has...

INSTAAR (External Link)


Research in the news

Canary in the coal mine: What the American pika can tell us about climate change

Entry Date:September 7, 2017

Canary in the coal mine: What the American pika can tell us about climate change

Pika are small, cute mammals that live in broken rock habitats or talus fields high in the mountains above treeline. Adorable as they are, these...

Denver Post: Catching air: Scientists trek high into the Rockies to measure rising greenhouse gases

Entry Date:April 5, 2017

Denver Post: Catching air: Scientists trek high into the Rockies to measure rising greenhouse gases

Climate researchers say the the weekly climb to gather air samples has become more of a mission than a job.

CU Boulder Today article:  Long-term ecological study to continue at very special site, Niwot Ridge

Entry Date:March 9, 2017

CU Boulder Today article:  Long-term ecological study to continue at very special site, Niwot Ridge

Thanks to a $6.8 million renewal grant to CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) from the National Science Foundation...

More news...
Instaar
Instaar
NSF
CU Boulder

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Please contact lternwt@colorado.edu with questions, comments, or for technical assistance regarding this website.

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