Benjamin W. Abbott

Benjamin W. Abbott
Brigham Young University - Provo Main Campus | BYU · Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences

PhD

About

139
Publications
95,631
Reads
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5,094
Citations
Citations since 2017
103 Research Items
4643 Citations
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Introduction
My research interests include: Ecosystem ecology; Renewable energy; Terrestrial-aquatic linkages; Environmental policy and education; Catchment hydrology; Biogeochemistry; Disturbance; Economic and environmental sustainability; Science communication and advocacy; Environmental stewardship
Additional affiliations
July 2017 - present
Brigham Young University - Provo Main Campus
Position
  • Professor
August 2016 - June 2017
Michigan State University
Position
  • PhD Student
July 2014 - July 2016
Université de Rennes 1
Position
  • Marie-Curie Research Fellow

Publications

Publications (139)
Book
Full-text available
This booklet describes the past, present, and potential future of Utah Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Utah. This keystone ecosystem is a crucial link in the Pacific Flyway, an island of water in the arid Great Basin, and also at the center of one of the fastest-growing metropolitan regions of the United States. Understanding Utah Lake has nev...
Preprint
Full-text available
This article is a product of a collaboration between ecosystem scientists and energy system modelers. It is currently in review at Nature Geoscience. The main points are: 1. Climate mitigation goals of 1.5-2°C are not adequate given current understanding of ecosystem sensitivity to climate and the high social costs of carbon emissions. 2. More aggr...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Great Salt Lake is facing unprecedented danger. Without a dramatic increase in water flow to the lake in 2023 and 2024, its disappearance could cause immense damage to Utah's public health, environment, and economy. This briefing provides background and recommends emergency measures. The choices we make over the next few months will affect our stat...
Preprint
Full-text available
River flows change on timescales ranging from minutes to millennia. These variations influence fundamental functions of ecosystems, including biogeochemical fluxes, aquatic habitat, and human society. Efforts to describe temporal variation in river flow—i.e., flow regime—have resulted in hundreds of unique descriptors, complicating interpretation a...
Article
In Arctic catchments, bacterioplankton are dispersed through soils and streams, both of which freeze and thaw/flow in phase, seasonally. To characterize this dispersal and its potential impact on biogeochemistry, we collected bacterioplankton and measured stream physicochemistry during snowmelt and after vegetation senescence across multiple stream...
Preprint
Full-text available
The concepts of resistance, recovery, and resilience are in diverse fields from behavioral psychology to planetary ecology. These “three Rs” describe some of the most important properties allowing complex systems to survive in dynamic environments. However, in many fields—including ecology—our ability to predict resistance, recovery and resilience...
Article
Full-text available
Rapid Arctic environmental change affects the entire Earth system as thawing permafrost ecosystems release greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Understanding how much permafrost carbon will be released, over what time frame, and what the relative emissions of carbon dioxide and methane will be is key for understanding the impact on global climate. I...
Article
Full-text available
Nitrogen regulates multiple aspects of the permafrost climate feedback, including plant growth, organic matter decomposition, and the production of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Despite its importance, current estimates of permafrost nitrogen are highly uncertain. Here, we compiled a dataset of >2000 samples to quantify nitrogen stocks i...
Article
Elevated nitrate from human activity causes ecosystem and economic harm globally. The factors that control the spatiotemporal dynamics of riverine nitrate concentration remain difficult to describe and predict. We analyzed nitrate concentration from 4450 sites throughout France to group sites that exhibit similar trend and seasonal behaviors during...
Article
Full-text available
The physical and chemical changes that accompany permafrost thaw directly influence the microbial communities that mediate the decomposition of formerly frozen organic matter, leading to uncertainty in permafrost-climate feedbacks. Although changes to microbial metabolism and community structure are documented following thaw, the generality of post...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is an existential threat to the vast global permafrost domain. The diverse human cultures, ecological communities, and biogeochemical cycles of this tenth of the planet depend on the persistence of frozen conditions. The complexity, immensity, and remoteness of permafrost ecosystems make it difficult to grasp how quickly things are c...
Article
Unsustainable agriculture practices are undermining the world's future ability to reliably produce food. Assistance programmes, such as those offered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States, can increase the uptake of sustainable practices, yet implementation of these alternatives in the US remains discouragingly li...
Article
Full-text available
Estimates of the permafrost-climate feedback vary in magnitude and sign, partly because permafrost carbon stability in warmer-than-present conditions is not well constrained. Here we use a Plio-Pleistocene lacustrine reconstruction of mean annual air temperature (MAAT) from the Tibetan Plateau, the largest alpine permafrost region on the Earth, to...
Article
Full-text available
Hyporheic zones increase freshwater ecosystem resilience to hydrological extremes and global environmental change. However, current conceptualizations of hyporheic exchange, residence time distributions, and the associated biogeochemical cycling in streambed sediments do not always accurately explain the hydrological and biogeochemical complexity o...
Chapter
Full-text available
Permafrost ecosystems have accumulated vast pools of organic carbon, together amounting to three times more carbon than the atmosphere and five times more than all living things. The high elevations and high latitudes where permafrost occurs are experiencing some of the most extreme climate change on Earth. Consequently, the ecological reaction of...
Article
Full-text available
Repeated sampling of spatially distributed river chemistry can be used to assess the location, scale, and persistence of carbon and nutrient contributions to watershed exports. Here, we provide a comprehensive set of water chemistry measurements and ecohydrological metrics describing the biogeochemical conditions of permafrost-affected Arctic water...
Technical Report
Full-text available
The global energy system is undergoing the largest and fastest transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Breakthroughs in renewable production and storage have made solar and wind the cheapest and cleanest energy ever available. Consequently, solar, wind, and batteries now make up more than 90% of all new energy production built each year. Be...
Article
Full-text available
Human agriculture, wastewater, and use of fossil fuels have saturated ecosystems with nitrogen and phosphorus, threatening biodiversity and human water security at a global scale. Despite efforts to reduce nutrient pollution, carbon and nutrient concentrations have increased or remained high in many regions. Here, we applied a new ecohydrological f...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is causing larger wildfires and more extreme precipitation events in many regions. As these ecological disturbances increasingly coincide, they alter lateral fluxes of sediment, organic matter, and nutrients. Here, we report the stream chemistry response of watersheds in a semiarid region of Utah (USA) that were affected by a megafir...
Chapter
Full-text available
Permafrost is perennially frozen ground, such as soil, rock, and ice. In permafrost regions, plant and microbial life persists primarily in the near-surface soil that thaws every summer, called the ‘active layer’. The cold and wet conditions in many permafrost regions limit decomposition of organic matter. In combination with soil mixing processes...
Article
Full-text available
Human alteration of nutrient cycles has caused persistent and widespread degradation of water quality around the globe. In many regions, including Western Europe, elevated nitrate (NO3-) concentration in surface waters contributes to eutrophication and noncompliance with environmental legislation. Discharge, NO3- concentrations and the vulnerabilit...
Data
Streamflow metrics and catchment characteristics for 3,261 streams from around the world.
Article
Full-text available
Human modification of water and nutrient flows has resulted in widespread degradation of aquatic ecosystems. The resulting global water crisis causes millions of deaths and trillions of USD in economic damages annually. Semiarid regions have been disproportionately affected because of high relative water demand and pollution. Many proven water mana...
Article
Full-text available
Ecosystem carbon (C) dynamics after permafrost thaw depends on more than just climate change since soil nutrient status may also impact ecosystem C balance. It has been advocated that nitrogen (N) release upon permafrost thaw could promote plant growth and thus offset soil C loss. However, compared with the widely accepted C-N interactions, little...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Utah Lake is a huge and unique waterbody at the heart of Utah Valley. Though it is one of the largest freshwater lakes west of the Mississippi River, many in our community know little about its history, ecology, and importance to our future. As the population of our valley grows, we need to understand Utah Lake so we can preserve and protect this k...
Article
Full-text available
Protecting water quality at catchment scales is complicated by the high spatiotemporal variability in water chemistry. Consequently, determining pollutant sources requires costly monitoring strategies to diagnose causes and guide management solutions. However, recent studies have shown that spatial patterns in water chemistry can be persistent a...
Preprint
Full-text available
Repeated sampling of spatially distributed river chemistry can be used to assess the location, scale, and stability of carbon and nutrient contributions to watershed-scale exports. Here, we provide a comprehensive set of water chemistry measurements and secondary ecosystem metrics describing the biogeochemical conditions of permafrost-affected Arct...
Article
Full-text available
Mid-20th century mining in Naabeehó Bináhásdzo (Navajo Nation) polluted soil and groundwater with uranium and arsenic. The Diné and other indigenous residents of this region use groundwater for drinking, livestock, and irrigation, representing an environmental health risk. Currently, many individuals and communities on the Navajo Nation must purcha...
Article
Full-text available
Permafrost collapse can rapidly change regional soil-thermal and hydrological conditions, potentially stimulating production of climate-warming gases. Here, we report on rate and extent of permafrost collapse on the extensive Tibetan Plateau, also known as the Asian Water Tower and the Third Pole. Combined data from in situ measurements, unmanned a...
Article
Nitrate contamination affects many of the Earth’s aquifers and surface waters. Large-scale predictions of groundwater nitrate trends normally require the characterization of multiple anthropic and natural factors. To assess different approaches for upscaling estimates of nitrate recovery, we tested the influence of hydrological, historical, and bio...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is creating widespread ecosystem disturbance across the permafrost zone, including a rapid increase in the extent and severity of tundra wildfire. The expansion of this previously rare disturbance has unknown consequences for lateral nutrient flux from terrestrial to aquatic environments. Lateral loss of nutrients could reduce carbon...
Article
Full-text available
Soils are warming as air temperatures rise across the Arctic and Boreal region concurrent with the expansion of tall-statured shrubs and trees in the tundra. Changes in vegetation structure and function are expected to alter soil thermal regimes, thereby modifying climate feedbacks related to permafrost thaw and carbon cycling. However, current und...
Article
Full-text available
Permafrost degradation is delivering bioavailable dissolved organic matter (DOM) and inorganic nutrients to surface water networks. While these permafrost subsidies represent a small portion of total fluvial DOM and nutrient fluxes, they could influence food webs and net ecosystem carbon balance via priming or nutrient effects that destabilize back...
Article
Full-text available
Soils are warming as air temperatures rise across the Arctic and Boreal region concurrent with the expansion of tall-statured shrubs and trees in the tundra. Changes in vegetation structure and function are expected to alter soil thermal regimes, thereby modifying climate feedbacks related to permafrost thaw and carbon cycling. However, current und...
Article
Full-text available
Climate change is intensifying the Arctic hydrologic cycle, potentially accelerating the release of carbon and nutrients from permafrost landscapes to rivers. However, there are limited riverine flow and solute data of adequate frequency and duration to test how seasonality and catchment landscape characteristics influence production and transport...
Article
Full-text available
The continental shelves of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas contain large stocks of organic matter (OM) and methane (CH4), representing a potential ecosystem feedback to climate change not included in international climate agreements. We performed a structured expert assessment with 25 permafrost researchers to combine quantitative estimates o...
Article
Full-text available
Air pollution causes more damage to health and economy than previously understood, contributing to approximately one in six deaths globally. However, pollution reduction policies remain controversial even when proven e�ective and cost negative, partially because of misunderstanding and growing mistrust in science. We used an expert assessment to br...
Article
Permafrost regions at high latitudes and altitudes store about half of the Earth's soil organic carbon (SOC). These areas are also some of the most intensely affected by anthropogenic climate change. The Tibetan Plateau or Third Pole (TP) contains most of the world's alpine permafrost, yet there remains substantial uncertainty about the role of thi...
Poster
Full-text available
Evaluate how representative water sampling and eDNA analysis is of the aquatic macroinvertebrate communities through comparison with macroinvertebrates captured in terrestrial adult forms
Article
Full-text available
As environmental change in the Arctic accelerates, there is a growing need to accurately quantify the response of Arctic ecosystems throughout the year. To assess the temporal coverage of observations of carbon and nutrient fluxes, we used literature synthesis, quantitative meta-analysis, and exploration of a novel biogeochemical dataset from one o...
Article
Full-text available
The magnitude of future emissions of greenhouse gases from the northern permafrost region depend crucially on the mineralization of soil organic carbon (SOC) that has accumulated over millennia in these perennially frozen soils. Many recent studies have used radiocarbon (14C) to quantify the release of this “old” SOC as CO2 or CH4 to the atmosphere...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Last month, we published a nontechnical review of the scientific evidence on masks and prevention of COVID-19 1. We did not anticipate the intensity of public interest, but we were heartened by the sincere and widespread desire for reliable information on this crucial public health issue. The outpouring of questions, thanks, and criticisms made it...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Scientific evidence can be difficult to interpret under the best of circumstances. During a global pandemic (and election year), it is no surprise that there is public confusion about what measures can effectively protect families and communities from COVID-19. Because the scientific and medical understanding of this disease is advancing so rapidly...
Article
Soils are sources of the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) globally, but emissions from permafrost-affected soils have been considered negligible owing to nitrogen (N) limitation. Recent measurements of N2O emissions have challenged this view, showing that vegetated soils in permafrost regions are often small but evident sources of N2O duri...
Article
An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system defeated the best human players in StarCraft II, a popular real-time strategy game. In a virtual ecosystem, players compete for habitats and resources, unintentionally reproducing many ecological phenomena. We propose to repurpose this AI to test ecological hypotheses that have been intractable using...
Article
Full-text available
Permafrost thaw has been widely observed to alter the biogeochemistry of recipient aquatic ecosystems. However, research from various regions has shown considerable variation in effect. In this paper, we propose a state factor approach to predict the release and transport of materials from permafrost through aquatic networks. Inspired by Hans Jenny...
Article
Full-text available
Lateral carbon flux through river networks is an important and poorly-understood component of the global carbon budget. This work investigates how temperature and hydrology control the production and export of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory in Pennsylvania, USA. We applied the catchment-scale...
Article
Full-text available
Lateral carbon flux through river networks is an important and poorly understood component of the global carbon budget. This work investigates how temperature and hydrology control the production and export of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the Susquehanna Shale Hills Critical Zone Observatory in Pennsylvania, USA. Using field measurements of da...
Article
Full-text available
Subsurface environments host most of the fresh water on Earth as well as diverse microorganisms that may constitute a significant part of the biosphere. However, the dynamics and spatial distribution of subsurface microorganisms and their response to hydrological processes are poorly understood. Here we used chemical and metagenomic analyses of gro...
Article
Full-text available
The permafrost zone is expected to be a substantial carbon source to the atmosphere, yet large-scale models currently only simulate gradual changes in seasonally thawed soil. Abrupt thaw will probably occur in <20% of the permafrost zone but could affect half of permafrost carbon through collapsing ground, rapid erosion and landslides. Here, we syn...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Understanding the costs and causes of air pollution in Utah is crucial to implementing effective solutions. To address disagreement in the public discussion of these costs, we compiled research from the best medical and economic studies and collected Utah-specific estimates and input from 21 researchers with expertise in medicine, public health, at...