Position Description: Climate models project increasing aridity with megadrought conditions in the Southwest during the latter half of the 21st century. In this region, the decade 2001-2010 was the warmest of all decades during the period 1901-2010 – suggesting that a transition to warmer, drier conditions already may be underway. In dryland ecosystems, plant responses to precipitation are mediated by soil properties that determine spatial and temporal patterns of soil-water availability. Although this principle is well recognized on the basis of extensive research, site-specific information about relationships between climate, soils and vegetation dynamics (especially in the context of climate change) is lacking for Colorado Plateau drylands. To support climate-change adaptation and associated conservation actions, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks are embarking on research to develop a decision support framework and analytical tools to better understand soil influences on ecosystem vulnerability to climate change. The framework and tools will facilitate site-specific, science-based decision making pertinent to ecosystem restoration and other management actions in the context of climate change. The incumbent GIP will work closely with NPS and USGS staff to complete field data collection aspects of this project, specifically field soil profile descriptions, documenting site contextual information (e.g. landform, geology, parent material), and collection of soil samples. Field description will include describing soil morphology (e.g. soil texture, rock fragment, horizonation, structure, color, pH, effervescence, etc.) following the USDA-NRCS Field Book for Describing and Sampling Soils. Samples will be collected from each soil horizon for basic laboratory analysis (texture, pH, electrical conductivity), and possible further analysis as appropriate. Soil profiles will be classified to USDA soil taxonomic classes and correlated with local soil survey components. Training and supervision of soil description and sampling work will be overseen by NPS and USGS staff with the expectation that the participant will become proficient in these methods to independently perform these tasks at a professional level.
There is a strong potential that Colorado Plateau national park ecosystems will experience irreversible state-changes in the near future as a result of climate change. Given nonlinear dynamics, the water-limited nature of dryland systems, and forecasts of increasing aridity, park- and region-specific research is required to understand how climate drivers will affect ecosystems. Canyonlands (CANY) and Capitol Reef (CARE) face significant challenges in restoring and protecting the integrity of dryland ecosystems in the context of climate change. Understanding how broad-scale climate drivers will impact ecosystems at local scales is of paramount importance for designing effective management strategies to mitigate and minimize undesired ecosystem changes, including land degradation. We anticipate that the data-driven soil-ecohydrologic framework produced by this effort will become an indispensable tool for informing management decision making relative to Colorado Plateau drylands, especially in the restoration of currently degraded sites and prevention of transitions to future degraded states. The work of the GIP will contribute to overall project goals by participating in field data collection aspects of the project.
This position is offered through the National Park Service's Geoscientists-in-the-Parks (GIP) Internship Program in partnership with Stewards Individual Placement Program (Stewards) and The Geological Society of America (GSA).
The applicant should be able to: •Use a GPS to record location information and to navigate. •Collect accurate data in difficult outdoor situations (see additional information on work environment). •Perform computer data entry, editing and retrieval tasks to process and verify scientific data. •Follow standard protocols to collect scientific data •Use a database management program, such as MS Access, for scientific data storage and retrieval. •Fill out data sheets legibly and show an understanding of the importance of maintaining high standards in the collection of scientific data. •Camp for up to 8 days at a time in undeveloped areas (i.e., no showers or running water). •Hike off trail in uneven or steep terrain (>10 miles per day) carrying a heavy (50 lb) backpack. •Dig physically challenging soil description holes (50x50x50cm) and operate a soil hand auger in remote and rugged settings.
Work Products: Soil pedon descriptions and data entered into database.
Education: •Applicant needs to have obtained a B.S. in Soil Science or related field
Applicant needs to have minimum course work of: -Intro to soils, -Soil genesis and classification, pedology, or similar -Additional preferred coursework or related experience -Soil judging or related experience describing, sampling and classifying soils in the field -Sedimentology or similar geology coursework The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent legal resident (“green-card-holder”) between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. Prior to starting this position a government security background clearance will be required.
Email Travis Nauman at email@example.com for more info.
Additional Salary Information: $250 travel allowance
AmeriCorps is a program that engages individuals in intensive community service work with the goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community”. The GIP Program is supported through AmeriCorps by providing a Segal Education Award in addition to the GIP’s living stipend and travel/housing allowance.
Upon successful completion of the GIP position, the GIPs (AmeriCorps members) are eligible for a $1,612 - $6,095 pre-tax education that can be used for paying back student loans or for continuing their education. The amount of the education award is based on the length of the position.
AmeriCorps limits the number of terms an individual can serve to 4 terms. If an applicant has previously completed 4 GIP or other AmeriCorps positions, he/she will not be eligible to apply for an additional GIP position.