Earlier this spring, for the first time in years, operators lifted the gates of the Morelos Dam at the U.S.-Mexico border, allowing a rare pulse of water to flow into the parched, final stretches of the Colorado River Delta. The release, which was part of an international river agreement, was seen as a small victory for conservationists who are hoping to restore the delta's wetlands.
For researchers at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), it also provided a rare opportunity.
Just days before the release, a team from F&ES and the University of Florida received a $80,000 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant from the National Science Foundation to collect valuable water chemistry measurements from the newly flooded delta in the aftermath of the release.
Specifically, they were looking to assess how the restoration of water affects the carbon cycling in the long-dry river delta, once one of the planet’s great desert estuaries, and how the release of carbon stored in that soil impacts the ecosystem after it’s introduced to the water.
The research team leaders included Peter Raymond
, a professor of ecosystem ecology at F&ES, and Thomas Bianchi
, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Florida.