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Field work

Testing the “two-water-worlds” hypothesis in southern Manitoba ~ by Janelle Laing

During the 2015 field season, members of our research group conducted a study on the Fort Garry campus of the University of Manitoba; the study aimed to test the “two water-worlds” hypothesis, which suggests that plants preferentially access tightly-bound soil water over mobile soil water. We collected rainwater, streamwater, mobile soil water (using suction lysimeters), bulk soil, and mature tree and shrub twigs. All samples were then tested for stable water isotopes to compare the isotopic signature of the different water types, assuming that clustered water types originate from the same source.

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Quick recap of the 2015 MSSS Tour

On June 18, 2015, Laura Blunden attended the Manitoba Soil Science Society (MSSS) tour with the University of Manitoba Watershed Systems Research Program (WSRP). The tour stopped at the Classen Farm, which is currently being studied by Ph.D. student Kokulan Vivekananthan and other researchers from the University of Manitoba and the University of Waterloo to see the effects of tile drainage and water retention on runoff and nutrient export from agricultural fields. For more information on the Classen Farm research you can download the pdf brochure: Classen Brochure Final_ReducedSize.

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New dye tracing experiment this summer

A dye tracing experiment was conducted at the Classen site in the La Salle River watershed on June 8th, 2015. Blue dye was applied to two plots and soil profiles were excavated three days later to reveal the flow pathways present in the thick clay soils of the area. After getting covered in blue dye and a few blisters later, we were able to capture many photos of the stained soil profiles, which will be analyzed to determine the dominant flow processes.

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La Salle River Watershed sampling in spring-summer 2015

Summer students Madison Hutchinson and Laura Blunden have been sampling surface water in the La Salle River Watershed throughout the summer! This work was done as a collaboration between the Watershed Systems Research Program, the LaSalle Redboine conservation District and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. All samples - collected weekly - will be analyzed for nutrients as well as stable water isotopes. Laura and Madison are pictured below at three of the sampling sites near Elie, West of Elie and Sanford.

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2015 Spring Freshet in the Catfish Creek Watershed

Here is a quick update on our work in the Catfish Creek Watershed, near Pine Falls, MB, Canada: Cody Ross, MSc student, is currently conducting dye tracing experiments to assess the relative importance of overland flow and subsurface flow in the establishment of riparian-stream connectivity. The Catfish Creek Watershed is characterized by a near even mix of agricultural and forest land, and it is dominated by a large network of municipal and provincially controlled drains. This watershed is extremely responsive to snowmelt and rainfall events, which makes it a great candidate to conduct this kind of study. Want to see it for yourself? Check out two quick time-lapses compiled from field camera photographs captured at two locations within the watershed: a small stream flowing through a forested riparian area, and a man-made drain flowing through a grassland riparian area.

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Out with the snow, in with Field Season 2014!

With May upon us, the snowmelt has finally arrived at the Catfish Creek Watershed, and with it the 2014 field season. The past two weeks have brought the bulk of the freshet, straining our in-stream instruments and overtopping wells that are usually intended for measuring depth below the ground surface to the perched water table. In a couple of weeks when the water recedes we will be able to download data from our (hopefully still intact) water level loggers to get an idea of exactly what magnitude of runoff event was produced by the melt of this year's deeper-than-normal snow pack. Until then, the Catfish Creek crew will be visiting the area every few days to take water samples for nutrient analysis, monitor conditions, and perform emergency equipment replacements should anything wash away.

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It is raining blue in Manitoba…

It is very exciting to simulate rainfall and follow the water through different soil and bedrock layers... especially when the water is blue! Lauren Timlick successfully led a rainfall simulation and dye tracing experiment in the Steppler Watershed (South-Central Manitoba) on June 25th, 2013.

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