Published: July 7, 2017

Michael Gooseff

The Geological Society of America (GSA) Fellows are recognized for their distinguished contributions to the geosciences through publications, applied research, teaching, administration of geological programs, contributing to the public awareness of geology, leadership of professional organizations, and taking on editorial, bibliographic, and library responsibilities. Among their numbers this year is Dr. Michael Gooseff, cited for pioneering critical new areas of hydrogeology in the field of groundwater-surface water interactions and watershed-river water connectivity at all latitudes, particularly in Polar regions, making important new advancements possible in the fields of geochemical weathering and aquatic ecology.

In addition to being an Associate Professor at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and in the Department of Civil Architectural & Environmental Engineering , he is currently the Co-Director of the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program at CU and serves as the chair of CWEST’s Education Committee.

Recently, Dr. Gooseff’s research along with press attention has been focused in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER, where he is the Lead Principle Investigator. His latest publication, “Decadal ecosystem response to an anomalous melt season in a polar desert in Antarctica”, was featured in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Dr. Gooseff explains more below and in a Nature Ecology & Evolution blog post:

Since the 'flood year' of the 2001-02 austral summer, we have carefully evaluated how the ecosystem responded to such an unprecedented pulse of meltwater. As our recent paper describes, different components of the ecosystem responded at different times. Importantly, some aspects of the ecosystem responded by shifting from a temporal trend (during the cooling period) to a relatively static condition after the flood year. The communities of the Dry Valley ecosystem are strongly dependent upon its physical states (i.e., ice thickness, solar radiation, air temperature, streamflow, etc.). The paper also demonstrates that the future consequences of a changing as climate for the Dry Valleys ecosystem may be buffered or amplified by the legacies of how the physical characteristics of the ecosystem have changed in the recent past.

This past field season he also welcomed a visit from celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain for an Antarctica episode of CNN’s Parts Unknown.

When he isn’t doing field work at the bottom of the world, he is in Alaska to assess potential effects of aufeis on Arctic river ecosystems in a warming climate. Aufeis are massive accumulations of ice that are characteristic of many arctic rivers. Although aufeis have been studied by hydrologists and are known to be required for winter and spawning habitat for some fish, understanding of their ecology is poor. To conceptualize the role of aufeis in river ecosystems, Dr. Gooseff and his collaborators assess predictions based on four dimensions: 1) Longitudinal – their upstream-downstream effect on seasonal water and nutrient supply, temperature, and consumer movements, 2) Lateral - their role in determining floodplain and riparian habitat complexity, 3) Vertical - their effect on hyporheic habitat volume and quality, and 4) Temporal - changes in the timing of aufeis formation and melting. They propose that these dimensions will determine the role of aufeis in affecting arctic river ecosystems in a warming climate.

Dr. Gooseff earned his Bachelor's in Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech in 1996, his MS in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado in 1998, and his PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado in 2001.