Katharine Benedict

Sustainability Leadership Fellowship Cohort: 2011-2012

Ph. D. Student, Department of Atmospheric Science

Research Summary: My research is focused on understanding the types of compounds in the atmosphere and their sources that contribute to ecosystem changes in our national parks. Specifically my research in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has measured atmospheric nitrogen containing species that get deposited by precipitation and settling at more than 3 times the background level. This is particularly important in RMNP where the protected ecosystems are nitrogen limited. Nitrogen acts as a fertilizer and changes the plant types altering the function of the ecosystem. Our results have identified organic nitrogen as an important contributor to the increased nitrogen and we are now focusing on its potential sources.