Program: RESESS Boulder
Major: Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Academic Affiliation: Georgia Institute of Technology
Mentors: Dr. Kamini Singha
Samantha Motz (she/her/hers) is a senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in Earth and Atmospheric Science. Samantha is a non-traditional student, who discovered her passion for geosciences in an intro to geology course at Georgia State University that inspired her to go on to receive her Associates in Science with Honors in Geology. In 2021, Samantha completed her first summer internship with RESESS, which allowed her to discover her drive and passion for research. This summer, Samantha will be comparing new geophysical data to historical hydrologic data to see what geophysics can tell us about the subsurface hydrology at Panola Mountain, Georgia.
The climate and hydrological cycle are intertwined; therefore, as climate changes, the
importance of comprehending our water systems is critical. Water storage and transport
are influenced by topography but given how spatially variable topography can be and
the limited number of studies on this interaction, the full extent of topography’s
influence remains unclear. To investigate how topography impacts the hydrology of
Hotel Gulch, Colorado, we measured slope, aspect, curvature, upstream area, and
topographic wetness index at eight sites in this headwater catchment and compared
these metrics to the respective stream discharge and specific conductivity for each site.
Hotel Gulch lies in the southern part of Colorado’s Front Range. Hotel Gulch’s semi-arid
climate and mountainous topography make it especially sensitive to changes in climate;
consequently, it is an ideal research site for determining how climate change will impact
watersheds in the near future. This research is accompanied by a companion study that
measures discharge and specific conductivity in stilling wells at the same eight sites. In
this work, we present the slope and upstream area as an indication of hydrologic
parameters—discharge and specific conductivity— through the topographic wetness
index. These results give us insight into the dynamics of topography’s influence in the
hydrologic system, which will improve our perception of our water systems in response
to climate change.