Thursday, March 28, 2013

Groundwater Connections - Online

The new web site, which provides information about our community-based groundwater monitoring network in Rocky View County has launched.   The new web site provides information about the research, community outreach and educational material that make our project unique.  Please visit our site at

The research section of the website will provide readers with scientific information related to the Groundwater Connections project.  On this page you will be able to find information on the climate and geology of Rocky View County.  In addition there is an explanation of some basic hydrogeological processes, with the option to download Fact Sheets, which provide further information. 

The Community Connections section is about how the volunteer-based groundwater monitoring network was developed.  This provides community members and other municipalities with the background of the predecessor project located in West Nose Creek and information about the current County wide project.  This provides community members and other municipalities with the background of the predecessor project located in West Nose Creek and information about the current County wide project.

The final section is the educational component of our project, which will include information for both teachers and students. This section provides resources for teachers to bring local groundwater research into their classrooms. On the Education Connections page there are four activities, which are related to the adapted research article located on the Research Connections page.  These resources will be available online for local Grade 8 science teachers to use. 

If you are interested in learning more about hydrogeology, community groundwater projects or the application for Grade 8 science classes, I would encourage you to visit our website!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Field Day

Although I spend most of my time in an office, every so often I get to head outside and help the field technician collect data for our prairie research project.  Last Wednesday was one of those days; and I could not have asked for a nicer day to be working in the prairies.  The temperature soared to +14oC, the sun was shining and aside from it being rather windy; it was the perfect day for measuring snow and preparing for the spring melt.  It might have been a work day, but we don’t’ take ourselves too seriously.  Our team definitely knows how to appreciate the first warm days of spring while working outside.  

What a beautiful day to be working outdoors!
Our research has found that throughout Rocky View County an important process in groundwater recharge is depression-focused recharge.  Depression-focused recharge occurs when the snow melts and water accumulates in the low-lying areas of a field until the water infiltrates into the ground as it thaws.  Since this process is important in groundwater recharge, our field team measures the amount of snow throughout the winter and then in spring we begin to measure the water level in the depressions.  Last Wednesday, we completed four snow survey transects, which provide us with information about the distribution of snow before the warmer weather arrives.  This information is used to understand the amount of snow in our prairie study sites each year.  The prairie sites have different crop cover, which allows us to observe the differences in snow depth and run off.  At one of our crop sites there was not much snow left on the ground, particularly in the low-lying areas.  This lack of snow allowed us to start measuring the amount of water already collecting in the depressions (see the picture below).  

Measuring the water level in a depression.
Spring time means spring runoff, which impacts stream levels and flow rate.  As part of our research, we monitor West Nose Creek to provide information on surface water changes throughout the year.  The start of our surface water monitoring season is generally just before the snow melts, which allows us to record the increase in water level and determine when peak discharge occurs in the stream.  The one obstacle we encounter every year is a layer of ice between us and the water we need to monitor.  The picture below illustrates our attempt to break through the ice using a sledge hammer in order to start monitoring stream flow. 

After a number of attempts, we walked away defeated – Ice = 1, Field team = 0!  

Trying to break through the ice on West Nose Creek - though it might have provided entertainment for people passing by, we were unsuccessful in our attempts.
At the end of the day, although defeated at West Nose Creek, we had giant smiles on our face from getting to spend one of the first nice days of the year outdoors!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Technical Delay

The anticipated date of the website has been pushed back due to a few technical difficulties.  Our team is working hard to find solutions in order to make our site available as quickly as possible. We are excited to launch the Groundwater Connections website, which will share our research with community members and educators in Alberta and across Canada.

As soon as the website is up and running we will be posting a link here, so please come back and check  next week.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Groundwater Connections - Coming Soon

The Groundwater Connections project works to connect researchers, community members and educators.  The purpose of an integrated approach is to dismantle barriers between scientific research, community engagement, and science education.  This approach allows researchers to provide access to current research and expertise in data analysis, engage the community in data collection and groundwater monitoring, and enable science educators to focus on local groundwater processes and issues.  An integrated approach provides opportunity for scientific knowledge to reach a wider audience, make local research more accessible to the community, and help people feel they are contributing to the goals of the project. 

This project is a partnership between the University of Calgary, the Biogeoscience Institute and Rocky View County.  We are excited to be incorporating a blog into our website to allow for more interaction.  The Groundwater Connections website is anticipated to be launched by the end of January 2013.