Nick Sutfin

Nick Sutfin



Nicholas Sutfin received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geosciences with an emphasis in hydrology at Boise State University in 2010. Ellen Wohl in Geosciences at Colorado State University, where he also conducted his Master of Science work, advises his current PhD research in fluvial geomorphology. Research and teaching opportunities have shown me the importance of communicating to interdisciplinary scientific audiences and the non-scientific community. Effective communication is crucial to educate students, the general public, stakeholders, and policy makers about the importance of water resources and climate change. My research interests include fluvial geomorphology, watershed hydrology, ecohydrology, riparian and aquatic ecology, environmental flows, freshwater sustainability, pedology, soil geomorphology, land-use and land-cover changes, and carbon cycling. My PhD research in Rocky Mountain National Park encompasses many of these interests. I am examining the mechanistic influences of valley and channel form on sediment and carbon storage in riparian areas of headwaters in the Colorado Rocky Mountain Front Range. Multithread channel patterns (opposed to single-thread channels) occur only under the influence of at least one of two biotic drivers: beaver dams or old-growth forests. Where valleys are wide enough and where either beaver or trees large enough to create channel-spanning logjams are present, channel complexity facilitates overbank flow and storage of sediment on the floodplain. Preliminary findings indicate multithreaded channels occur in approximately 25% of the total river miles within the fluvial network, but contain over 80% of the total carbon stored within riparian areas of these mountainous headwaters. These findings have implications for land use management (e.g., deforestation, reintroduction of native species such as beaver, flow diversions and augmentations), climate change and natural disturbances (e.g., wildfire, insect infestation, early snow melt, decreased snow pack, changes in timing and magnitude of peak flow), nutrient dynamics in riparian and aquatic ecology, global carbon cycling and sequestration, and freshwater sustainability (e.g., high carbon loading of water to be treated for consumptive use). My future research will continue to examine anthropogenic disturbance on fluvial systems and interactions between land use and ecosystem services. I plan to continue interdisciplinary research throughout my career at an academic institution or federal agency and will strive to better communicate science to others.



Organizing Concept

The primary mission of I-WATER is to prepare Ph.D. students to work in an interdisciplinary team-based activity. Our research themes involve interacting teams of hydrologists, meteorologists, ecologists, and management experts. I-WATER features problem-focused research to bridge basic and applied science by combining fundamental research on scientific problems with application of scientific knowledge to actual resource issues.

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