RMRS Air, Water, & Aquatic Environments Science Program US Forest Service - RMRS Air, Water, & Aquatic Environments Science Program

US Forest Service Research and Development


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Rocky Mountain Research Station
 RMRS Science Program Areas
 Air, Water and Aquatics Science Program
 Research Subject Areas
 Field Locations
About the Rocky Mountain Research Station

AWAE Program Headquarters
322 East Front St., Ste 401

Boise, ID 83702

(208) 373-4340


Rocky Mountain Research Station Headquarters

2150 Centre Ave., Bldg A
Fort Collins, CO 80526

(970) 295-5923

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

USDA Link Forest Service Link


AWAE Home | Field Units | Research Subjects | Publication Search | Contact Us


AWAE Research Subject Areas

Quick Jump to:
bulletAquatic Ecology bulletEngineering bulletHydrology bulletWater & Watershed Processes
bulletAtmospheric Science bulletFire & Fuels bulletPlant Physiology
bulletBiogeochemistry bulletFisheries

bulletSediment & Erosion

bulletClimate Change bulletGeomorphology bulletSpatial Analysis  



Aquatic Ecology Research

Aquatic Ecology
The interdisciplinary scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms and their interactions with their aquatic environment (external abiotic and biotic factors). Ecology is a subdiscipline of Biology, which is the study of life. The most prevalent research topics in Aquatic Ecology here at AWAE include: Bark Beetle research, invasive species, restoration ecology, fire ecology, riparian environments and more.

Ecologists: Kate Dwire, Robert Hubbard


Subject Categories: Fisheries, Vertebrates & Invertebrates, Invasive Species, Stream Temperature.



Atmospheric Science Research

Atmospheric Sciences

Atmospheric science is the study of the atmosphere - the blanket of air covering the Earth. Atmospheric scientists study the atmosphere's physical characteristics, motions, processes, and the way in which these factors affect the rest of our environment.

Atmospheric Scientists: Robert Hubbard, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Jim McKean, Bob Musselman, Chuck Rhoades, Bruce Rieman (Emeritus)


Subject Categories: Air Quality, Atmospheric Deposition, Ozone, Climate Change
Biogeochemistry Research - Image of Burned landscape

Biogeochemistry is the scientific study of the processes and reactions (chemical, physical, geological, biological) which control the composition of the natural environment. It also looks at the cycles of matter and energy that transfer the Earth’s chemical components in time and space.

Biogeochemists: Chuck Rhoades


Subject Categories: Aquatic Ecology, Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Change, Water & Watershed Processes


Climate Change Research Climate Change

Climate Change refers to the gradual shift in earth's overall temperature and weather patterns through time. Alarming trends toward a rapidly warming climate have AWAE scientists researching the destructive effects of climate change on the Aquatic Environment. Such research involves stream temperature, wildland fires, thermal habitats, air quality and ozone to name a few.

Involved Scientists: Kelly Elder, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Jim McKean, Bruce Rieman (Emeritus)


Subject Categories: Air Quality, Fire & Fuels, Fisheries, Stream Temperature, Watershed Processes




Engineering Research

Engineering applies technical, scientific, and mathematical knowledge in using natural laws and physical resources to design and create materials, structures, machines, devices, systems, and processes in order to accomplish a desired objective. Engineers within AWAE work with soil and water research, aquatic probability and prediction modeling, erosion control materials and other mitigation techniques, fire behavior models, etc.

Engineers: Bill Elliot, Peter Robichaud, Natalie Wagenbrenner


Subject Categories: Sediment & Erosion, Watershed Processes


Fire and Fuels Research

Fire & Fuels
Wildland fires in the arid west create a cause for concern for many inhabitants and an area of interest for researchers. With AWAE, fundamental and applied research relates to atmospheric effects of fire on aquatic environments, and ecological adaptations to fire as well as the development of associated knowledge tools and applications for both scientists and managers in wildfire management.

Involved Scientists: John Buffington, Kate Dwire, Bill Elliot, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Dan Neary, Chuck Rhoades, Bruce Rieman (Emeritus), Pete Robichaud, Natalie Wagenbrenner (Engineer), Michael Young


Subject Categories: Aquatic Ecology, Climate Change, Stream Temperature
Bull Trout image for fisheries research

RMRS Fisheries research looks at watershed processes and aquatic ecology to guide management of aquatic ecosystems and water/soil resources. Scientists develop knowledge of the biophysical conditions and processes that influence water quality and quantity, aquatic habitat quality, and the distribution, diversity, and persistence of fish and other aquatic species.

Fisheries Biologists: Dan Isaak, Hugo Magana, Bruce Rieman (Emeritus), Russ Thurow, Michael Young


Subject Categories: Climate Change, Invasive Species, Stream Temperature


Geomorphology research

Geomorphology is the science that deals with relief features of the earth or of another celestial body and looks towards describing and classifying such topographic characteristics. This interdisciplinary subject works within AWAE with such subjects as soil, climate change, road erosion, hydrology, engineering and more.

Geomorphologists: John Buffington, Jim McKean, Sandra Ryan-Burkett


Subject Categories: Watershed Processes


Hydrology Research

Hydrology is the scientific discipline concerned with the waters of the Earth, with their occurrence, distribution, and circulation by means of the hydrologic cycle and relations with living things. It also deals with the chemical and physical properties of water in all its phases. This field focuses greatly on snow hydrology, stream-riparian environments, soils, erosion, climate change, wildfire, geomorphology, etc.

Hydrologists: Kelly Elder,Tom Black, Charlie Luce, Sandra Ryan-Burkett


Subject Categories: Watershed Processes


Plant Physiology Research - aerial photograph

Plant Physiology
Plant physiology is the study of internal plant activities including phytochemistry, environmental interactions, plant morphology, molecular and cell biology, and cellular interactions. Such AWAE research studies eco-physiology, fire effects, nutrition, plant regeneration and recovery, etc.

Plant Physiologists: Robert Musselman


Subject Categories: Atmospheric Science


Soil, Sediment and Erosion Research

Soils, Sediment & Erosion
The study of soil as a natural resource on the surface of the earth including soil formation, classification and mapping; physical, chemical, biological, and fertility properties of soils; and these properties in relation to the use and management of soils. AWAE scientists study soil erosion: mitigation techniques, prediction and processes; fire and fuel effects, soil carbon decomposition rates and climate change, sediment transport, and more.

Soil Scientists: Dan Neary,

Sandra Ryan-Burkett, Tom Black, John Buffington, Bill Elliot, Charlie Luce, Jim McKean, Natalie Wagenbrenner


Subject Categories: Roads, Waterways, Hydrology, Watershed Processes
Spatial Analysis in AWAE Research

Spatial Analysis

Spatial Analysis involves the processing of multiple geographic themes to help understand new relationships among features on the landscape. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) are the primary disciplines that support Spatial Analysis. At AWAE, GIS and RS are used in numerous applications such as modeling sediment yield from roads, estimating soil erosion rates, predicting stream temperatures, and mapping aquatic habitat.

GIS Specialists & Related: David Nagel, Sharon (Parkes) Payne, Jim McKean, Tom Black, Charlie Luce


Subject Interests: River Bathymetry, Remote Sensing: Channels, GRAIP: Road Impacts, Stream Temperature


Water and Watershed Processes Research

Water & Watershed Processes
A riparian area is the interface between land and a stream. Soil conservation occurs in these biodiversified aquatic ecosystems. They can flourish in grassland, woodland, wetland, or even non-vegetative zones. AWAE stream riparian research looks at water availability and quality, aquatic ecosystems; species distribution, diversity and persistence, aquatic resources in society, management and livestock grazing, fire effects, climate change and natural disturbances, dams/water diversions and more.

Stream Riparian Scientists:

John Buffington, Kate Dwire, Kelly Elder, Bill Elliot, Robert Hubbard, Dan Isaak, Charlie Luce, Jim McKean, Dan Neary, Chuck Rhoades, Bruce Rieman, Russ Thurow, Natalie Wagenbrenner, Michael Young


Subject Categories: Disturbance, Stream Temperature, Water Quality, Roads, LiDAR, Climate Change, Hydrology, Geomorphology, Erosion



Research Subject Areas




bulletAquatic Ecology

bulletAtmospheric Sciences


bulletClimate Change




Fire & Fuels








Plant Physiology

bulletSediment & Erosion

bulletSpatial Analysis

bulletWater & Watershed Processes




2011 Climate Aquatics Workshop


Stream Temperature Modeling Website

River Bathymetry Toolkit (RBT)


Bull Trout and Climate Change - Risks, Uncertainties and Opportunities for Mapping the Future



Western US Stream Flow Metric Dataset


Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP)


Geomorphic Road Assessment and Inventory Package (GRAIP)


Rocky Mountain Research Station - Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Sciences Program
Last Modified:  Wednesday, 23-Jul-2014 12:12:17 CDT

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