The Response of Stream Metabolism to Variable Climate Patterns Using In-Situ Instrumentation in the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico.
In the southwestern United States two important seasons influence stream flow: snowmelt in spring and summer monsoonal rainfall events. Flow patterns exhibit peak discharge from snowmelt runoff in the spring followed by pulsed increases in stream discharge during late summer monsoons. Molles and Dahm showed the intensity of the snowmelt discharge is linked to El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions in the tropical Pacific. El Nino and La Nina climate patterns also may affect late summer monsoonal precipitation in New Mexico by intensifying the monsoon during La Nina years and weakening monsoons during El Nino years. Stage gage data show seasonal and interannual variability in the intensity of snowmelt and monsoonal runoof events in montane catchments in New Mexico. Further, in-situ YSI sonde, Satlantic Submersible Ultraviolet Nitrate Analyzer (SUNA) and CycleP instrumentation show physical and chemical constituents respond to higher flow events driven by climate variability, and the constituents these instruments measure can be used as a proxy to estimate whole stream metabolism and nutrient cycling processes.