Headwaters Hydrologic Test Bed (H2TB)

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A 21st-Century Collaborative Test Bed for Mountain Hydrology

Beginning as snowmelt from Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Colorado River—often called the Lifeline of the West—supplies water to over 40 million people in seven US states and Mexico. As demand for that water grows and climate-driven drought threatens supply, there is an urgent need to improve scientific understanding of mountain hydrology and advance decision-relevant hydrologic research in the Colorado River Headwaters region.

Fortunately, much research is already underway, focused on different, yet interrelated challenges, and spurred by considerable advances in monitoring technologies, hydrologic modeling, and data science. Launched in September 2021 and funded by NASA, AGCI’s Headwaters Hydrologic Test Bed (H2TB) project seeks to further scientific understanding that can help us better manage this vital water and ecological resource. By engaging existing research communities in the Colorado River’s mountain headwaters and leaning into expertise in collaborative science and social network analysis, H2TB aims to identify innovations that can promote and accelerate our collective understanding of this critical water supply.

Goals for the H2TB:

The H2TB project will be highly participatory, including outreach to strategic stakeholder partners, a workshop, a series of community meetings, and surveys for the Earth science community. We will engage many disciplines to explore pathways to connect in situ monitoring of hydrology and ecology; land surface, hydrologic, and snow modeling; data science; and community science. These engagements will inform a white paper that highlights both the efforts underway and the untapped potential that exists to improve mountain hydrology research and its relevance to practice. Throughout the process, emphasis will be placed on developing evidence-based ideas for next steps in data collection and application.

If you are interested in engaging in the effort or learning more about the H2TB project as it moves forward, please contact Elise Osenga, eliseo@agci.org, 970-925-7376. 

Project Team

Julie Vano (PI)
Aspen Global Change Institute
Elise Osenga
Aspen Global Change Institute
James Arnott
Aspen Global Change Institute
Tanya Petach
Aspen Global Change Institute
John Katzenberger
Aspen Global Change Institute
Jeffrey Deems (PI)
National Snow and Ice Data Center
Joseph Hamman
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Mark Raleigh
Oregon State University


This effort has been made possible through funding by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).