Connecting diverse disciplines to improve understanding of surface water-groundwater interactions

Journal of Hydrology X
By: , and 



Laura K. Lautz is a premier mentor, collaborator, and researcher at the intersection of natural hydrologic systems and humans. Her research has shifted the paradigm around measuring and understanding the impacts of surface water and groundwater interactions across spatial and temporal scales. She has done this by testing and refining new methods and by collaborating with, training, supporting, and mentoring diverse scientists. Here, we review her research across five themes, summarizing the prior status of the field, what Lautz contributed, as well as new directions in the field inspired by her work. Lautz’s research expanded our understanding of the impacts of stream restoration on surface water-groundwater interactions, where she tested new field methods and showed that restoration structures increase hyporheic exchange, locally altering biogeochemical function of the streambed. She refined novel methods for measuring surface water-groundwater exchanges and worked to make these methods easily accessible through freely available software. Her research group greatly expanded the use of heat as a quantitative tracer of hydrologic processes via the well-used VFLUX and HFLUX programs. Her research evaluated the impacts of surface water-groundwater interactions in urban streams, showing the substantial fluxes of nutrients and chloride that can move through those exchanges and the potential for groundwater to help buffer contamination. To assess groundwater impacts on streamflow below tropical glaciers, she used a wide range of field methods to reveal the sensitivity of these systems to climate change. Finally, she built tools to quantify natural brine contamination of drinking water wells in areas that may later be subject to high-volume hydraulic fracturing, creating a needed ‘pre-fracking’ dataset. Through this process, she identified multiple sources of salinity that are already reaching wells in these systems. Overall, this research has been done with a focus on mentoring and training the next generation of hydrologists, including work to specifically train for careers beyond academia, and facilitating early career scientists to realize their innate potentials. With former trainees in careers across industry, government, and academia, Dr. Laura K. Lautz is now working to build cross-disciplinary research at even larger scales, across federal research units, guaranteeing that an even larger impact on hydrology is still to come.

    Publication type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Title Connecting diverse disciplines to improve understanding of surface water-groundwater interactions
    Series title Journal of Hydrology X
    DOI 10.1016/j.hydroa.2022.100141
    Volume 17
    Year Published 2022
    Language English
    Publisher Elsevier
    Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center, WMA - Observing Systems Division
    Description 100141, 10 p.
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