Eyes on Our Watersheds in Ontario’s Near North
Forested headwater watersheds, like those Dr. April James is studying, bridge a forest’s land and water systems, be they streams, lakes, wetlands or other water-rich areas. These watersheds are invaluable to the environment, providing fresh water and other services that determine the volume and quality of water that ends up downstream.
In Ontario’s Near North, the movement of water across this “terrestrial-aquatic interface” affects the health of a huge number of streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands that support sustainable human use (including potable water and industrial use), ecological health and recreation.
As Canada Research Chair in Watershed Analysis and Modeling, James will work with Nipissing University’s Watershed Analysis Centre to study how water moves through watersheds, from rainfall to the flow of streams.
Using observational field studies, hydrochemical and stable isotope analysis, and computer models, and looking at factors like topography, soils, moisture conditions and seasonal changes, James will study the surface and subsurface flowpaths that water takes, including where and for how long it stops along the way.
James’ research may help secure the future of Canada’s Near North water resources. Her research will help uncover how watersheds process water, and how they transport and transform contaminants and nutrients that affect water quality and ecological health. This knowledge can then be applied in managing and improving the health of watersheds. Her research may also lead to improvements in how the environmental impacts of climate change and of land use from human activities (such as urban development, agriculture, forestry and mining) are predicted and evaluated.