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UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS | INTERNATIONAL ARCTIC RESEARCH CENTER

People of IARC

bennett

Katrina Bennett

Katrina Bennett has studied hydrology and hydroclimate processes and models at IARC since 2010. Bennett has studied changes to the hydroclimate caused by extreme weather, as well as surveys of historical hydroclimate and remote sensing data. Her work has been published in leading climate journals such as Hydrological Processes and Journal of Climate.

Contact Dr. Bennett

What has been most significant about your recent work?

Because the Arctic and the world are experiencing more extreme weather events more often, it is important to examine the effects of these changes, across the wide array of features that make up a climate and an ecosystem. As a hydrologist studying in the North, I am primarily interested in changes to Subarctic watersheds, especially the river basins of our interior boreal ecosystems.

Because of the shifts that extremes can cause to ecosystems over time, important hydrological factors such as soil moisture, thawing, and streamflow patterns can also exhibit drastic change.

Further, by working to understand the scope of these changes today, as a climate science community we can also present a fuller picture of the hydrology of the past and the future. This is why I have focused my work on building more complete hydrology models from historical data and remote sensing tools.

By developing better-informed models, we can more confidently drive these models toward more specific and accurate projections of future changes in extremes.

How is your research important to larger scientific communities or the public?

I feel strongly that our work as scientists should provide direct benefits and connections to the public, and my long-term goals include an emphasis on the communicative pathways between scientists and our larger communities.

I am working closely with the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center to ensure that the results of my work are integrated within their modeling framework. I also hope to lead an interdisciplinary research lab, for example, to address the misunderstandings that I believe can result from particular scientific conventions and practices.

What led you to your study of hydrology?

I’ve been interested in water and its various effects throughout my education, beginning with a Bachelor’s degree in physical geography, followed by private-sector work for various geographic information system (GIS), hydropower, and environmental conservation groups, my Masters degree studying lake water balance in Canada’s boreal plains, and working as a hydrologist for the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium.

Throughout these experiences, I maintained a deep interest in the dynamics, politics, and consequences of water to humans and ecosystems.

During my career studying hydrology and climate, I’ve had a number of exciting experiences that have solidified my interests and passions in these fields. These include participation in the Northern Research Basins trip to Baffin Island, where I met a number of the inspiring IARC researchers I work with currently.

What interests do you have outside of your field of study?

In my free time, I enjoy a number of activities in the outdoors of Alaska, including gardening and cycling in the summer and cross-country skiing when there’s snow.

Retrieving isotope samples from Mendenhall Glacier nearby Juneau, AK. (Photo: E. Hood)
Retrieving isotope samples from Mendenhall Glacier nearby Juneau, AK. (Photo: E. Hood)
Digging a snow pit on the Juneau Icefields. (Photo: E. Hood)
Digging a snow pit on the Juneau Icefields. (Photo: E. Hood)
Monument Creek SNOTEL site, located within one of Bennett's four model watersheds, the Chena River basin. She uses data collected from the site to validate against remotely sensed data and models. (Photo by C. Johnson)