The Summer Adventures of Kestrel Kunz

Kestrel Summer FellowsThe Squamish summer is already quite hot and sunny—not exactly the ideal weather for me to focus all day inside on a computer. But fortunately there are other Questies who are taking much more advantage of the Squamish beauty and heat, while keeping up with their academic duties. Kestrel Kunz is one of this year’s chosen Summer Fellow Students. As an up-coming fourth year, Kestrel applied for Summer Scholars after realizing the amount of field time she would need in order to construct the final Keystone project she was already planning. With the guidance of Rich Wildman as her Host Faculty member, Kestrel is studying the effect of sunlight intensity on the strength of summer stratification at Alta Lake in Whistler, Lake Lovely Water in Squamish, and Lago Junín in Peru. Her project involves characterizing water circulation patterns, and her three chosen lakes provide varying elevations, latitudes, and geographies with which she can work.

Of course, due to the proximity of both Alta Lake and Lake Lovely Water, Kestrel is able to take full advantage of the warm Squamish sunshine! Her outdoor days at Alta Lake have involved her and her field assistant (usually Rich) moving water monitors to record different temperature profiles, deploying GPS and buoy units to record water surface movement, and offloading data from portable weather monitors on shore. Next week, Kestrel will spend three or four days at Lake Lovely Water, which is only accessible by paddling across the Squamish River and hiking to 1200m elevation at a straight vertical! Of course, working with the challenges of the outdoor environment, Kestrel admits field work rarely goes as planned. But with her resilient “roll with it” attitude, these challenges are just part of the experience.

Apart from beautiful days paddling on the lake, Kestrel is spending some days inside. An indoor office day is spent offloading and analyzing data collections, or writing and emailing proposals to the entities in charge of her three chosen lakes. Of course, this means sometimes she must translate her proposals into Spanish before emailing them to the Peruvian National Park Department, SERNANP. Kestrel is using a 1-dimensional computer model, Aquasim, and by looking at three varied lakes, her data and modeling will allow her to identify different relationships between local weather patterns (i.e. wind, solar irradiance, and temperature) and circulation in the water column. At the end of the summer, she will write a research paper about her findings, likely continuing her research at Lago Junín in Peru in the fall.

Even through all her hard academic work though, Kestrel is managing to get up to many other adventures, including mountain biking, kayaking, puppy time with her brother’s dog Kona, good eats with the other Summer Fellows, and meeting new folks around Squamish!

A key component of the Summer Fellows program is a Wednesday Afternoon Seminar Series, during which students will present on their research for 45 minutes. Tenea Dillman will be presenting this Wednesday at 4:15p about her work on creating a hydro-logic budget for Garibaldi Lake as part of a larger project on which her Host Faculty member Steve Quane and the National Geographic Society are working. Kestrel will be presenting next Wednesday, June 17th. All faculty, staff, students, and other Student Fellows are welcome to attend these weekly sessions, and I very much look forward to hearing more of what Kestrel has to say next week!

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