Irena CreedFaculty of Science


Hydrology | Nutrients & Greenhouse Gases | Ecosystem Services | Ecosystem Health

Hydrological Characterization of Landscapes
When a drop of water hits the ground, it weaves through the land and ends up in the surface waters of wetlands, lakes and rivers or deep below the surface in groundwater. Understanding the patterns of where water is, was or will be allows us to explain or predict the ecosystem processes that are intrinsically linked to water.  We have developed novel approaches to map wet areas in landscapes where traditional methods are insufficient. These mapping techniques allow us to characterize the hydrology of landscapes at broad and fine scales over time and are being used by governments and NGOs to implement in hydrological and biodiversity monitoring to help inform development and conservation policies

Selected Publications:
Gala TS, Aldred DA, Carlyle S, Creed IF. 2011. Improved performance of models for predicting soil moisture using physically-based spatially averaging of synthetic aperture radar data. Remote Sensing of Environment. 115: 3507-3516. [PDF]

Kaheil YH, Creed IF. 2009. Detecting and downscaling wet areas on boreal landscapes. IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters 6: 179-183. [PDF]

Clark RB, Sass GZ, Creed IF. 2009. Mapping hydrologically sensitive areas on the Boreal Plain: a multitemporal analysis of ERS synthetic aperture radar data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 30: 2619-2635. [PDF]

Hydrological Regulation of Nutrient Export and Greenhouse Gases from Watersheds
As water moves through watersheds, it picks up and carries nutrients and contaminants with it, transporting them great distances with effects on different ecosystems along the way. We have developed an internationally recognized indicator approach to predict nutrient export from headwater catchments by incorporating topographically derived indices to explain the differential export of carbon and nitrogen from headwater catchments and regional watersheds.

Moist soils can also create or hinder conditions for the chemical reactions that produce or sequester greenhouse gases. We contribute to a world-wide effort to map carbon and nitrogen pools and understand the processes that control greenhouse gas exchange. We created a topographic template for estimating soil carbon and nitrogen pools at regional scales.

Selected Publications:
Webster KL, Creed IF, Beall FD, Bourbonniere RA. 2011. A topographic template for estimating soil carbon pools in forested landscapes. Geoderma 160: 457-467. [PDF]

Creed IF, Beall FD. 2009. Distributed topographic indicators for predicting nitrogen export from headwater catchments. Water Resources Research 45: W10407. [PDF]

Creed IF, Beall FD, Clair TA, Dillon PJ, Hesslein RH. 2008. Predicting export of dissolved organic carbon from forested catchments in glaciated landscapes with shallow soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22: GB4024. [PDF]

Ecosystem Services
Watersheds provide essential ecosystem services, like flood control and water purification. We are conducting research that assesses the functions of ecosystems and quantifies their value in order to inform development and conservation decisions.

Ecosystem Health
The health of ecosystems and human beings are intrinsically tied together, especially in developing countries where individual livelihoods are reliant on the productivity of natural and agricultural ecosystems. We are interested in conducting research that measures the interactive effects of economic, social and economic determinants of health, including feedback of human activities within the ecosystem on the sustainability of ecosystem services. These are complex systems, and we are working with experts from many disciplines (including the natural, applied, health and social sciences) to conduct trans-disciplinary research that will characterize and propose solutions to enact change in ecosystems in crisis.