Diane M Mcknight

Diane M Mcknight
University of Colorado Boulder | CUB · Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)

PhD- Environmental Engineering, MIT

About

458
Publications
78,815
Reads
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29,266
Citations
Citations since 2017
63 Research Items
10516 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,500
Additional affiliations
December 1996 - present
University of Colorado Boulder
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (458)
Article
Full-text available
A better understanding is needed of how hydrological and biogeochemical processes control dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition from headwaters downstream to large rivers. We examined a large DOM dataset from the National Water Information System of the US Geological Survey, which represents ap...
Article
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The meltwater streams of the McMurdo Dry Valleys are hot spots of biological diversity in the climate-sensitive polar desert landscape. Microbial mats, largely comprised of cyanobacteria, dominate the streams which flow for a brief window of time (~10 weeks) over the austral summer. These communities, critical to nutrient and carbon cycling, displa...
Article
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Many challenges remain before we can fully understand the multifaceted role that natural organic matter (NOM) plays in soil and aquatic systems. These challenges remain despite the considerable progress that has been made in understanding NOM’s properties and reactivity using the latest analytical techniques. For nearly 4 decades, the International...
Article
Full-text available
Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a key variable impacting stream biogeochemical processes. The relationship between DOC concentration (C) and stream discharge (q) can elucidate spatial and temporal DOC source dynamics in watersheds. In the ephemeral glacial meltwater streams of the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), Antarctica, the C‐q relationship has be...
Article
The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs), Antarctica, represent a cold, desert ecosystem poised on the threshold of melting and freezing water. The MDVs have experienced dramatic signs of climatic change, most notably a warm austral summer in 2001–2002 that caused widespread flooding, partial ice cover loss and lake level rise. To understand the impact of th...
Article
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Our changing climate is having effects on freshwater ecosystems in all seasons, especially winter. High latitude lakes, wetlands, and rivers are experiencing shorter periods of ice cover, and lower latitudes systems that used to freeze are experiencing open water conditions throughout the winter. A 2019 AGU Chapman conference convened aquatic scien...
Article
The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDVs; 77.50°S, 162.25°E) make up the largest ice‐free region of Antarctica at ~3500 km2. Their position near the coast of the Ross Sea provides for a milder climate than much of the rest of the continent. Alpine and piedmont glaciers in the MDVs melt during the austral summer providing water to down gradient streams and ter...
Article
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The period of disrupted human activity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, coined the "anthropause," altered the nature of interactions between humans and ecosystems. It is uncertain how the anthropause has changed ecosystem states, functions, and feedback to human systems through shifts in ecosystem services. Here, we used an existing disturbance fra...
Article
Diatom metacommunities are structured by environmental, historical, and spatial factors that are often attributed to organism dispersal. In the McMurdo Sound region (MSR) of Antarctica, wind connects aquatic habitats through delivery of inorganic and organic matter. We evaluated the dispersal of diatoms in aeolian material and its relation to the r...
Article
This study examined water quality in the upper Animas River watershed, a mined watershed which gained notoriety following the 2015 Gold King mine release of acid mine drainage to downstream communities. Water-quality data were used to evaluate trends in metal concentrations and loads over a two-decade period. Selected sites included three sites on...
Article
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Residual pit lakes from mining are often dangerous to sample for water quality. Thus, pit lakes may be rarely (or never) sampled. This study developed new technology in which water-sampling devices, mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), were used to sample three pit lakes in Nevada, USA, during 1 week in 2017. Water-quality datasets from two...
Article
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In the western USA, one legacy of historic mining is drainage of acidic, metal-rich water generated by exposure to oxygen of sulfide minerals in mine workings, referred to as acid mine drainage (AMD). Streams receiving AMD and natural acid rock drainage (ARD) have a low pH, high dissolved metal concentrations, and extensive streambed oxide deposits...
Article
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Including a multifunctional, bioregenerative algal photobioreactor for simultaneous air revitalization and thermal control may aid in carbon loop closure for long-duration surface habitats. However, using water-based algal media as a cabin heat sink may expose the contained culture to a dynamic, low temperature environment. Including psychrotoleran...
Article
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Previous studies have shown that algal-derived dissolved organic matter (DOM) has a strong influence on the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) during the treatment of drinking water. In the summer of 2010, we evaluated the role of nitrogen and phosphorus loading and phytoplankton abundance as drivers of the concentrations and quality of DO...
Article
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Biological invasion and environmental change pose major threats to ecosystems. While long‐term ecological change is commonly evaluated through sediment cores in lakes, it is generally not feasible for smaller ponds, and spatial resolution is limited. Here, we analyze pond diatom communities collected during Shackleton's Nimrod expedition at Cape Ro...
Article
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Due to widespread manipulation of nitrogen (N), much research has focused on processes controlling the fate of anthropogenic N in streams. Yet, in a variety of oligotrophic systems, N fixed by periphyton is a significant driver of ecosystem metabolism. Due to difficulties partitioning allochthonous and autochthonous sources, there is limited inform...
Article
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Ecosystems across the United States are changing in complex and surprising ways. Ongoing demand for critical ecosystem services requires an understanding of the populations and communities in these ecosystems in the future. This paper represents a synthesis effort of the U.S. National Science Foundation‐funded Long‐Term Ecological Research (LTER) n...
Article
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In low-nutrient streams in cold and arid ecosystems, the spiraling of autochthonous particulate organic matter (POM) may provide important nutrient subsidies downstream. Because of its lability and the spatial heterogeneity of processing in hyporheic sediments, the downstream transport and fate of autochthonous POM can be difficult to trace. In Ant...
Article
In the Southern Hemisphere, the major sources of dust and other aeolian materials are from Patagonia, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Dust from Patagonia and New Zealand has been identified in ice cores throughout Antarctica, suggesting that during arid and windy periods, such as glacial periods, dust can be entrained and transported onto...
Article
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Diatoms are diverse and widespread freshwater Eukaryotes that make excellent microbial subjects for addressing questions in metacommunity ecology. In the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the simple trophic structure of glacier-fed streams provides an ideal outdoor laboratory where well-described diatom assemblages are found within two cyanobacter...
Article
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When deposited on snow and ice, light absorbing impurities (LAIs) such as dust and black carbon (BC) reduce surface albedo and enhance melt. BC comes from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. Local and regional sources of BC exist in High Mountain Asia, such as dry-dung burning for heat and fuel, which occurs in close proximity to sno...
Article
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The McMurdo Dry Valley region is the largest ice-free area of Antarctica. Ephemeral streams flow here during the austral summer, transporting glacial meltwater to perennially ice-covered, closed basin lakes. The chemistry of 24 Taylor Valley streams was examined over the two-decade period of monitoring from 1993 to 2014, and the geochemical behavio...
Article
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Glaciers and ice sheets export significant amounts of silicon (Si) to downstream ecosystems, impacting local and potentially global biogeochemical cycles. Recent studies have shown Si in Arctic glacial meltwaters to have an isotopically distinct signature when compared to non-glacial rivers. This is likely linked to subglacial weathering processes...
Article
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In high latitude environments, silicon is supplied to river waters by both glacial and non-glacial chemical weathering. The signal of these two end-members is often obscured by biological uptake and/or groundwater input in the river catchment. McMurdo Dry Valleys streams in Antarctica have no deep groundwater input, no connectivity between streams...
Article
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Two widespread drivers of change in high-elevation lakes are climate warming and atmospheric nitrogen deposition, which may have interactive effects on aquatic ecosystems. Using an outdoor mesocosm experiment at 2900 m above-sea level along the Colorado Front Range, we investigated the individual and combined effects of realistic increases in tempe...
Article
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Rapidly occurring environmental changes in alpine lakes highlight the importance of better understanding the ecological structure and function associated with these systems. Previous research has identified how the physical characteristics of lakes change as a function of landscape position, but comparatively little is known about shifts in the bio...
Article
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We studied Bear Lake, a subalpine oligotrophic lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado USA, during the winter ice cover period of 2018. Our goal was to understand relationships between biogeochemical and biotic processes and the chemical quality of the dissolved organic matter (DOM), a major pool of organic carbon in all lakes. The lake was...
Article
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The McMurdo Dry Valleys is a polar desert on the coast of East Antarctica where ephemeral wetlands become hydrologically active during warm and sunny summers when subsurface flows are generated from melting snowfields. To understand the structure and function of polar wetland ecosystems, we investigated the hydroecology of one such wetland, the Wor...
Article
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The non-marine diatom flora of the Antarctic Continent includes several endemic taxa recorded over the past 100 years. One of these taxa, Navicula adminensis D.Roberts & McMinn, was described from the Vestfold Hills, East Antarctica. Detailed light and scanning electron microscopy observations have shown that based on its morphological features, th...
Article
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To study the structure and function of soil organic matter, soil scientists have performed alkali extractions for soil humic acid (HA) and fulvic acid (FA) fractions for more than 200 years. Over the last few decades aquatic scientists have used similar fractions of dissolved organic matter, extracted by resin adsorption followed by alkali desorpti...
Article
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Numerous ephemeral streams flow within the McMurdo Dry Valley Region of Antarctica that transport glacial meltwater to perennially ice-covered, closed-basin lakes during the austral summer. The diurnal behavior for two Taylor Valley streams of different character was examined during the summer of 2010-11. Andersen Creek is a short, 1st-order progla...
Article
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At the 2014 DUST meeting some of the first geochemical data of aeolian materials from the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), Antarctica were presented. The MDV is the largest ice-free area in Antarctica, and the transport and deposition of windblown materials are thought to play an important role in landscape connectivity, which in turn has important ecolo...
Article
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Fluid transit time is understood to be an important control on the shape of concentration-discharge (C-q) relationships, yet empirical evidence supporting this linkage is limited. We investigated C-q relationships for weathering-derived solutes across seven Antarctic glacial meltwater streams. We hypothesized that (H1) solute fluxes in McMurdo Dry...
Article
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Arid regions, particularly polar and alpine desert environments, have diminished landscape connectivity compared to temperate regions due to limited and/or seasonal hydrological processes. For these environments, aeolian processes play a particularly important role in landscape evolution and biotic community vitality through nutrient and solute add...
Article
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Microbial biofilms are biological hotspots in many alpine and polar ecosystems, but the controls on and functional significance of their fauna are little known. We studied cyanobacterial mats and the underlying sediment in a glacial meltwater stream in the McMurdo Dry valleys, Antarctica. We investigated mat biomass (total and phototrophic), diatom...
Article
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Much work has been performed to investigate controls on nitrogen (N) uptake in streams, yet the fate of assimilated N is comparatively poorly resolved. Here, we use in‐stream fixed N as an isotopic tracer to study the fate of assimilated N in glacial meltwater streams. We characterized δ15N signatures of Oscillatorean, Chlorophyte, and N‐fixing Nos...
Poster
Established in 1993, the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research Program (MCM LTER) is an interdisciplinary effort focused on the long-term study of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems in a cold desert region of Antarctica. The McMurdo Dry Valleys are located on the western coast of the McMurdo Sound, forming the largest relatively ice-fre...
Article
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Vast expanses of Earth's surface are covered by ice, with microorganisms in these systems affecting local and global biogeochemical cycles. We examined microbial assemblages from habitats fed by glacial meltwater within the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, and on the west Greenland Ice Sheet, (GrIS) evaluating potential physicochemical factors expl...
Article
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Recent advances have allowed for greater investigation into microbial regulation of mercury toxicity in the environment. In wetlands in particular, dissolved organic matter (DOM) may influence methylmercury (MeHg) production both through chemical interactions and through substrate effects on microbiomes. We conducted microcosm experiments in two di...
Article
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Northern ecosystems are experiencing some of the most dramatic impacts of global change on Earth. Rising temperatures, hydrological intensification, changes in atmospheric acid deposition and associated acidification recovery, and changes in vegetative cover are resulting in fundamental changes in terrestrial-aquatic biogeochemical linkages. The ef...
Article
It was demonstrated more than two decades ago that microorganisms use humic substances, including fulvic acid (FA), as electron shuttles during iron (Fe) reduction in anaerobic soils and sediments. The relevance of this mechanism for the acceleration of Fe(III) reduction in arsenic-laden groundwater environments is gaining wider attention. Here we...
Article
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Over the last several decades dissolved organic carbon concentrations (DOC) in surface waters have increased throughout much of the northern hemisphere. Several hypotheses have been proposed regarding the drivers of this phenomenon including decreased sulfur (S) deposition working via an acidity- change mechanism. Using fluorescence spectroscopy an...
Article
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Measurements of light absorbing particles in the boundary layer of the high southern latitudes are scarce, particularly in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), Antarctica. During the 2013 - 2014 austral summer near-surface boundary layer refractory black carbon (rBC) aerosols were measured in air by a single particle soot photometer (SP2) at multiple loc...
Article
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Benthic microbial mats in the glacial-fed meltwater streams are hotspots of productivity in the McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV), Antarctica. Benthic diatoms are common in these mats and the >45 primarily endemic taxa represent the most diverse group of eukaryotes in the MDV. In this harsh polar desert, streams are thermally dynamic with daily water tempe...
Article
We reassessed the molecular weight of dissolved organic matter (DOM) determined by high pressure size exclusion chromatography (HPSEC) using measurements made with different columns and various generations of polystyrene sulfonate (PSS) molecular weight standards. Molecular weight measurements made with a newer generation HPSEC column and PSS stand...
Preprint
Full-text available
Recent advances have allowed for greater investigation into microbial regulation of mercury toxicity in the environment. In wetlands in particular, dissolved organic matter (DOM) may influence methylmercury (MeHg) production both through chemical interactions and through substrate effects on microbiomes. We conducted microcosm experiments in two di...
Article
Full-text available
Amplified climate change in polar regions is significantly altering regional ecosystems, yet there are few long-term records documenting these responses. The McMurdo Dry Valleys (MDV) cold desert ecosystem is the largest ice-free area of Antarctica, comprising soils, glaciers, meltwater streams and permanently ice-covered lakes. Multi-decadal recor...
Article
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During the week of 9–15 September 2013, about 44 cm of rain fell across Boulder County, Colorado, USA, representing a very rare precipitation event. The resultant streamflows corresponded to an extreme event not seen since the historical flood of 1894. For the Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory (BcCZO), this event provided an opportunity to st...
Article
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Historical views have characterized Antarctica as a frozen desert with low diversity, although recent studies suggest that this may not be true for microscopic organisms. For microbes, assessing endemism in the Antarctic region has been particularly important, especially against a backdrop of debate regarding their presumed cosmopolitan nature. To...
Article
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Black carbon (BC) is derived from the incomplete combustion of biomass and fossil fuels and can enhance glacial recession when deposited on snow and ice surfaces. Here we explore the influence of environmental conditions and the proximity to anthropogenic sources on the concentration and composition of dissolved black carbon (DBC), as measured by b...
Article
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Roughly six petagrams of organic carbon are stored within ice worldwide. This organic carbon is thought to be of old age and highly bioavailable. Along with storage of ancient and new atmospherically deposited organic carbon, microorganisms may contribute substantially to the glacial organic carbon pool. Models of glacial microbial carbon cycling v...