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Is it drought?

Organization(s):Golden Ridge
Student(s):April Severinsen and Hunter Anna Fisher
Grade Level:Upper Primary (grades 3-5, ages 8-11)
GLOBE Educator(s):Erin Barr
Report Type(s):
Protocols:Nitrates, Conductivity, Alkalinity, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Water Temperature, Freshwater Macroinvertebrates
Date Submitted:05/02/2013
Screen capture from presentation
In Montana, the ponds and streams are important to society and nature. Its health is important. Recently, hotter summer than usual and a dry winter led researchers to the question: "Does climate change induced drought affect water quality: turbidity, pH, macroinvertebrate health, dissolved oxygen, salinity, etc." the scientists hypothesis is: "Yes, climate change induced drought will affect some aspects of water quality such as: macroinvertebrate health, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, nitrates, coliform bacteria, and electrical conductivity. First, the researchers went to a local stream where the researchers mapped the location and determined the latitude and longitude with a GPS. After that the scientists tested: turbidity, phosphate, nitrate, pH, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, coliform bacteria, macroinvertebrates, electrical conductivity, and temperature. At this time, the results are inconclusive until Golden Ridge researchers have the opportunity to conduct more tests over a longer period of time. The researchers' conclusion is inconclusive and more data is needed. The scientists would like to do further tests on the temperature, turbidity, pH, macroinvertebrate health, dissolved oxygen, salinity, etc.


Hello Ms. Barr and students.
Very interesting project.
My students would like to know how livestock is affected by the drought. Another student would like to know if the drought is drying up your rivers and streams. How hot does it get in Montana in the summer?
Hello Ms. Burns and Students,
We have not collected data about how livestock is affected by drought. We originally intended to test the affect of drought on livestock, but that did not work out for our project this year. We look forward to do some tests in the future concerning livestock’s reaction to drought. We do not have conclusive data on whether the drought is drying up the rivers and streams, but we have noticed that some of the lakes water level is lower. We can tell that by the water marks on the rocks. The summer temperature depends on the area that you are in, but 103°F is about as hot as it gets in our area in the summer.
April and Hunter
From Ms. Barr’s Class
Hello April and Hunter,
Very interesting and timely project! I think you guys are looking at an important and big question that many scientists are currently trying to answer. I dont know if the big drought of last year was caused or intensified by climate change but some are expecting these types of events to become more common in the future. So your question is important for a number of reasons, including water quality of both animals and humans. I think that having a few more years of data would certainly help figure out whats going on and but perhaps you may be able to find such data from Dept. of Environment in your state? maybe other researchers have found some info. but on other streams? I still think your project is a good example of using globe protocols to try to answer some scientific question. Perhaps next year you can come back and see if there is a difference?
One question i have is with your selection of the stream you sampled. As you probably know a stream is part of a watershed that is composed of many areas, some built-up, others with crops, forests etc... do you have a feel for what the main cover type is for your stream? and might it make a difference in what you measure there? this is something to think about since a stream in a nice pristine area would be likely different that a stream in a city.
Again nice work. Perhaps you can talk a little more about why it would be important to measure over several years in your report, or why you need more data.
The other part that i liked in your video is that you looked like you were having fun and i think thats great. As a scientist i find that science IS fun, everyday finding something new or learning something new. hopefully you guys had fun and learned a lot of stuff in the process
oh and i think since you used the globe protocols you could describe your methods in a little more detail in your report. not everyone who sees the report will know all the details about what you did so you want to help them out as much as you can.
Hello Dr. Brown de Colstoun,
Thank you so much for your compliments and advice! As to your question, our stream is locally called Muddy Creek, it runs through a park in Choteau, Montana so it is in a city and probably has more pollution in it than if it were in a more rural area. It has grass, shrubs, and trees around the water. The river is also in the fairgrounds which are also used for Four-H so there is livestock near it which could change the coliform bacteria depending on the season. Alkalinity and pH also are factors that could change.
April and Hunter
April and Hunter -

Nice work! Interesting research project. I noticed that you included that you need to collect more data and for a longer period of time. How long do you think you need to collect data? Are there any other sources of data you could include in your research? And, why do you think your research is important?

I look forward to hearing your answers!
Ms. Malmberg,
Thank you for your complements on our project, we had a lot of fun! We would need 30 years to collect data because we want data on the climate, not just the weather. We could get NOAA data and other local weather data. We could also talk to people in the area who have lived there for 30 years or more. When we did a classroom project by interviewing locals who have lived here for 30 years or more, we noticed that we all got similar answers to our questions. We think that our research is important because we live in an agricultural region and the weather and climate really affect the farmers and ranchers.
Hunter and April