Bhavna Arora (in the foreground), Erica Woodburn (behind her) and others explore the East River catchment site near the Upper Colorado River headwaters during the last week of September 2018. The EESA researchers gathered with 100 scientists to discuss challenges to watershed research at the headwaters, which is the testing site for much of EESA’s watershed research. Photo by Heidi Steltzer

The Earth and Environmental Sciences’ Watershed Function project led the first “Watershed Science Collaboration Workshop” during Sept 23-25, 2018 in Crested Butte, CO. Over 100 leading scientists from around the globe joined to identify and discuss crosscutting watershed frontier research challenges. Attendees included microbial and plant ecologists, hydrologists, geochemists, geologists, geophysicists, remote and snow sensing experts, data and computational scientists and resource managers.

Participants discussed scientific questions that drive several U.S., Canadian and China watershed observatory networks and also toured the East River, CO Watershed, which is the focus of the Watershed Function project in the DOE network.  Through presentations and a “Watershed World Café,” participants identified indivisible challenges that could greatly benefit from radical collaboration across diverse watershed observatories, including: soil-microbe-plant interactions across scales, bedrock controls on eco-hydrology and watershed exports, watershed disturbance and experimental manipulations, watersheds as integrators of terrestrial processes and co-design of advanced sensing and simulation systems. More information about the Watershed Function project is provided at