The mysteries of how water moves fuel both Lauren Lowman’s research and her imagination. Through computational modeling, geospatial analysis and field experiments, Lowman studies how changes in water availability impact overall ecosystem health, productivity and sustainability. But her observations of urban hydrology got her wondering about whether streams covered by city buildings could be considered healthy, and that led her to develop a program called the “Lost Waterways of Winston-Salem.” The program brings community stakeholders together to talk about hydrologic science, water issues, environmental issues and policy decision making. In the field, she aims to understand more about drought in the southeastern United States and how fires and weather events such as hurricanes affect the region’s water budget. You can find her and her students in the lab creating fire-resistant monitoring towers to collect data during controlled burns. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed journals including Remote Sensing and Ecological Modelling.
Areas of Expertise (4)
Hurricanes and drought
Water availability and its impact on the ecosystem
Role of fire on ecology and hydrology
Duke University: Ph.D., Civil & Environmental Engineering
Duke University: M.S., Civil & Environmental Engineering
Duke University: B.A., Public Policy Studies
Simulations of the water–carbon cycles of seasonal wetlands show nearly double rates of carbon uptake as compared to dry areas, showing that wetland persistence into the dry season is key to the areas carbon sink and water budget.
In order to accurately estimate the terrestrial carbon storage component of the global carbon budget locally and regionally, you need to incorporate vegetation-specific life cycle responses to water availability.
Tropical cyclones, often associated with massive flooding and landslides in the Southeast U.S., add a significant amount of freshwater to the hydrologic system, and their timing and trajectory significantly impact drought severity and persistence.
A flexible and interdisciplinary road map can be adapted to a number of geologic settings to better understand the relationship between mountain ecosystems, climate, and water erosion.