Departments of Geology and Geography
Dr. Townsend–Small’s research examines feedbacks in the global carbon and nitrogen cycles and their interactions with the global hydrologic cycle. Her research has spanned marine, freshwater, and terrestrial environments. An improved understanding of feedbacks in global biogeochemical cycles is critical for predicting environmental consequences of global climate change. For example, many scientists have predicted that increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will result in greater precipitation rates on land and increased river discharge to the oceans. Dr. Townsend–Small’s research has shown that an increase in precipitation and associated erosion rates in mountainous rivers wil likely result in greater export of terrestrial organic carbon in rivers, which will further accelerate emissions of carbon dioxide. Her research has also explored the effects of urbanization on carbon storage in terrestrial ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions of the more elusive greenhouse gases: nitrous oxide and methane. Dr. Townsend–Small’s research also makes use of stable isotope ratios to estimate nitrogen and carbon transformation pathways and radiocarbon dating to measure carbon turnover rates and fossil fuel emissions.
Townsend-Small A, DE Pataki, H Liu, Z Li, *Q Wu, and *B Thomas. 2013. Increasing summer river discharge in southern California, USA, linked to urbanization. Geophysical Research Letters, 40: 1-5, doi:10.1002/grl.50921.
Townsend-Small A, SC Tyler, DE Pataki, X Xu, and LE Christensen. 2012. Isotopic measurements of atmospheric methane in Los Angeles, California, USA: Influence of “fugitive” fossil fuel emissions. Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres, 117: D07308, doi:10.1029/2011JD016826.
Townsend-Small A, BJ Peterson, RM Holmes, and JW McClelland. 2011. Seasonal and hydrologic drivers of dissolved organic matter and nutrients in the upper Kuparuk River, Alaskan Arctic. Biogeochemistry 103: 109-124, doi: 10.1007/s10533-010-9451-4.