Science Distilled - The Ecology of Snow

  • Date: 
  • Time: 
  • Venue: Patagonia Outlet, 130 S Center St. Reno, NV 89501 (View map)
  • Tickets: $10 for Discovery members, $15 for non-members, available at the door.
ecology of snow

How snow impacts life, from the forest to the microbes.

 “When snow falls, nature listens.” Antoinette van Kleffe may have been speaking more literally than figuratively when she penned this quote. At this Science Distilled, DRI researchers Kelly Gleason and Alison Murray will share perspectives from the ecosystem on the glistening white stuff. You’ll hear stories of how snow impacts everything from forest fires, to microbial life, and even citizen scientists involved in snow research!

Kelly Gleason, PhD, works at the place where fire and ice meet: the impact of forest fires on snowpack, and the feedback of snowpack levels on cycles of forest fire. She’ll talk about her work in snow hydrology and how impurities in snow from burned areas affect melt patterns.

Alison Murray, PhD, focuses her research on extreme environments—such as very cold, or very high altitude places. Her work has dramatically altered the scientific view of biological diversity in these systems. She’ll share her explorations of the diversity of microbes in places originally thought to be uninhabitable, and how this relates to astrobiology and the possibility of life on other planets. We are very lucky to have Alison speak at this event, as she is currently co-chair of the NASA-led Europa Lander Science Definition Team.

Kelly Gleason, PhD
Kelly’s research focuses on the interactions between the water cycle, our climate, and the ecosystem in the context of a changing climate. Kelly focuses on how disturbances, such as forest fire or drought, alter these interconnected relationships. Her current project explores the impact of impurities on the snow (such as dust, black carbon, and burned woody debris) on snow hydrology and water resources.

Alison Murray, PhD
Since joining DRI in 2001, Alison has made significant contributions to our understanding of microbial ecosystems, particularly in extreme environments like the Antarctic. Her work has helped answer questions about how microbes survive in extremely cold places. As a result, we now have a much better understanding of how high latitude ecosystems function might respond to disturbances such as climate change. Alison’s research has taken her and members of her research group to the Antarctic Peninsula and the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, deep sea hydrothermal vents of the East Pacific Rise, and Yellowstone National Park to study the microorganisms inhabiting these diverse, and extreme ecosystems. She has also worked locally in Lake Tahoe to characterize the diversity of organisms throughout the water column and in different periods of stratification through the year.

Presented with support from: 

Newmont | Reno News & Review | Patagonia

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