As a minority and a first-generation college student from Shonto, AZ, the opportunity to gain research experience outside the Navajo (Dine) Nation, was truly a miracle for me. I am of the Red Streak People Clan, born for the Edgewater Clan; my maternal grandfather’s are the Bitter Water Clan and my paternal grandfather’s are the Deer Springs Clan. I am majoring in Environmental Geology in the Department of Geosciences at Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO.
For nine weeks this summer I was an intern in the NOAA-sponsored Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO) where I had the great privilege to gain research experience working at the University of Washington in Seattle with Jeffery R. Arnold of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and his team including Eric A. Strauss (U Wisconsin-La Cross), Alexis Coplin (US Army Engineer Research and Development Center Lab), and other experts from the USACE Omaha District and the US Geological Survey (USGS).
I worked with the USACE team to find, select, and analyze existing data in the categories of their developed conceptual model for calculating the amount of carbon being released and stored at different times and places in the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within and around the Upper Missouri River System. In that system, I focused on upstream and downstream river tributaries using existing USGS river gage stations around six USACE reservoirs: Lake Fort Peck, MT; Lake Sakakawea, ND; Lake Oahe, ND & SD; Lake Sharpe, SD; Lake Francis Case, SD; and Lewis and Clark Lake, SD. Using the data I found by searching and analyzing multiple literature sources for measurements at the relevant USGS river gage stations, I focused on seven parameters of physical stream flow data and carbon-related chemistry. Then, using my Microsoft Office and ArcGIS skills, I compiled all the available data into spreadsheet and map files for the USACE team to use in their calculations of carbon sequestration potentials for this location.
My work on this project is an integral part of the second stage of the USACE rapid assessment tool development in application to river sections and USACE reservoirs on the Upper Missouri River System. After the work to be done with the data I collected and analyzed for the team, additional processing will be done as part of the USACE rapid assessment of biosequestration potentials. The assessment is to estimate the possible change in these potentials due to ecological disturbances including floods, prolonged droughts, and fires. The geospatial and geophysical data I selected and analyzed for USACE on the flow characteristics and carbon contained in the waters of the mainstem Missouri River and some of its tributaries will be used to estimate carbon flux potentials for these areas. The final product of the larger project will be a suite of tools for rapid assessment of carbon sequestration potentials across all the land and water resources USACE manages in the US.
My overall experience was most wonderful. Thank you JISAO, Jeffery Arnold, and the entire USACE carbon sequestration team for this unforgettable opportunity.