Dr. Claire Jantz has been awarded a $486,000 grant under the Delaware Watershed Research Fund, administered by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Over the next three years, a team of scientists from SU and Northern Arizona University will connect models of land cover change, climate change, hydrology and tree species to address the impact of future development and environmental change in the Delaware River Basin.
This new project builds on current work supported by the William Penn Foundation to develop a land use mapping, modeling and monitoring system for the Delaware River Basin.
“Our current work has focused on creating forecasts of future land use in the Delaware River Basin,” Jantz said. “We quickly realized that it is difficult to create a realistic vision of land use in the basin in 2070 without fully considering climate change impacts at the same time. This was a major gap in our research that we aim to address in this new project.”
The primary question to be addressed by the new research, Jantz said, is how forest ecosystems and hydrologic processes in the basin will be affected by climate change and land cover change.
Other SU faculty and staff on the project are Drs. Timothy Hawkins, Christopher Woltemade and Scott Drzyzga, professors in the geography/earth science department, and CLUS staff members Alfonso Yáñez and Antonia Price. Collaborators on the project include Drs. Scott Goetz and Patrick Jantz from the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts.
“Each team member brings a unique expertise to the project: land use/land cover change mapping and modeling, hydroclimatology, climate change, watershed rainfall-runoff and flood modeling, biodiversity conservation, geotechnology and project management,” Jantz said. “It is exciting to be able to work on a project of this significance with such a diverse and talented team.”
The research will benefit conservation practitioners working across multiple watersheds within the basin, Jantz said, helping to identify areas potentially critical for regulating water flows, maintaining climate refuges for certain tree species or maintaining resilience against pathogens. “The data, analyses and outreach that we propose with this project will enable future planning efforts to incorporate these critical issues,” she said.