Dams and Climate-Induced Storms
Surface Water-Groundwater Interactions
Christine Hatch is a hydrogeologist who studies the intersection between water resources, ecology and climate change – educating others on how water quality and quantity affect various ecosystems.
Her work bridges areas of fundamental research, applied science and public outreach with the goal of maintaining sustainable access to safe water in the future.
She is a sought-after expert on the condition of aging dams in New England, the impact of climate-induced storms on their structure, and rewilding/restoring wetlands and bogs.
University of California-Santa Cruz: Ph.D., Earth Sciences
Amherst College: B.A., Geology
Select Media Coverage (6)
Cranberry growers are bringing wetlands back from the dead
KVIA – ABC 7 tv
Christine Hatch, Earth comments about efforts to turn land previously used as cranberry bogs into freshwater wetlands. “This is such a slam-dunk in terms of restoration. We’re never going to get rid of cranberries. They’re always going to be here. They’re an iconic state crop. However, some of these lands just aren’t going to turn a profit,” Hatch says.
Dr. Christine Hatch | Tertulia
In a radio interview, Christine Hatch, discusses her research and teaching focusing on wetlands and her involvement with the Eureka! at UMass Amherst program that mentors eighth through 12th grade girls in pursuing education and careers in STEM fields. Hatch also discusses the Integrated Concentration in STEM (iCons) Program for UMass Amherst undergraduates.
Recent floods heighten concerns that New England dams may not be built for climate-induced storms
Christine Hatch, a University of Massachusetts Amherst hydrogeologist, said Massachusetts needs to do a statewide dam assessment to determine how best to spend its limited resources. “The reality of climate change is that whatever we thought was safe enough when we built it isn’t safe enough anymore,” Hatch said. “There isn’t enough money to upsize all those or retrofit them.”
7 Investigates: Dangerous Dams
As torrential rain floods out local neighborhoods, climate experts say the kinds of storms that produce such rain are becoming more common. “The rainstorms are now more intense,” said Christine Hatch, a climate sciences processor at UMass Amherst. “There’s more rain per hour. There’s more rain per storm.”
The dam near Montpelier held. As climate change brings stronger storms, experts fear many won’t.
The Boton Globe print
“These weren’t built for the kinds of really big, intense flows that are exacerbated by climate change and human land use activities,” said Christine Hatch, a hydrogeologist with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission. “And so we’re just going to see more of those failing.”
UMass Amherst researchers discover how to give Massachusetts healthy ecosystems
In eastern Massachusetts, cranberry bogs were investigated and are looking to be restored. A UMass Amherst news release demonstrated how best the cradle of cranberry production in the United States has been more than 14,000 acres under cultivation. These cranberries thrive in acidic peat bogs. “Instead of thick masses of peat,” says Christine Hatch, extension professor of earth, geographic and climate sciences at UMass Amherst, lead author of the paper on recovering groundwater and a member of the commonwealth’s Water Resources Commission, “these human-altered cranberry bogs look like a Kit Kat bar when you dig down into them.”
Select Publications (6)
Earth Matters: Can we adapt to increasing intensity of rain events?Daily Hampshire Gazette
What distinguishes the effects of the climate crisis from the weather of the moment is an examination of trends over long periods of time. In order to quantify changes in our long-term climate, we look at the historical record of weather data, calculate averages and standard deviations, and decide whether the event we saw falls far outside the historical record of events or not.
Earth Matters: Rewilding is letting nature take the leadDaily Hampshire Gazette
Yet, as the human populations increasingly migrate to cities, or natural disasters render places less desirable for human settlement, nature has begun to push back, reopening the opportunity for shared co-existence. An evolving new science of rewilding is emerging, and its goals are closely aligned with “process-based ecological restoration.” There are several guiding principles:
Mapping groundwater discharge seeps by thermal UAS imaging on a wetland restoration siteFrontiers in Environmental Science
One of the key metrics for the effectiveness of wetland restoration is whether a restored wetland behaves hydrologically like a natural wetland. Restoration is designed to increase the water residence time on the surface of the site in order to capture and process nutrients, mitigate the impact of local flooding and drought, and provide a habitat for wetland species abundance and biodiversity.
Recovering groundwater for wetlands from an anthropogenic aquiferFrontiers in Earth Science
Freshwater wetlands are groundwater-dependent ecosystems that require groundwater for saturation, for wetland plants and creatures, for maintenance of wetland soils, and thermal buffering. With worldwide wetland area in decline for decades if not centuries, finding and restoring wetlands provides enormous ecosystem and public benefits, yet so often these projects fail to yield self-sustaining wetland ecosystems.
Exactly Where Does the River Need Space to Move? Seeking Participatory Translation of Fluvial Geomorphology into Flood ManagementJAWRA: Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Fluvial geomorphic risks are rarely incorporated into and mitigated by river flood management in the United States. Identifying where such risks exist is difficult and there is much scholarly debate on how best to do it. We incorporate this debate into a stakeholder‐driven process to assess its viability in translational fluvial geomorphology. Focusing on Massachusetts, USA we describe a decade‐long, stakeholder‐driven project that sought to better manage flood risks across the state.
Beavers offer lessons about managing water in a changing climate, whether the challenge is drought or floodsThe Conversation
It’s no accident that both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology claim the beaver (Castor canadensis) as their mascots. Renowned engineers, beavers seem able to dam any stream, building structures with logs and mud that can flood large areas.