DV-18-10 Investigating Maine’s changing water cycle through a cultural lens

Darren Ranco

Coordinator of Native American Research

University of Maine


Katherine Allen

School of Earth and Climate Science

University of Maine


The flow of water across Maine’s landscape, through its rivers, and into the sea represents a key link in the regional water cycle, impacting both terrestrial and marine environments. River runoff contributes freshwater to the general circulation in the Gulf of Maine. Quantifying  this freshwater flux will ultimately improve scientists’ ability to model coastal ocean circulation, which is important to both modern environmental studies and to longer-term prediction efforts.


The Wabanaki Youth in Science (WaYS) student will work with research faculty to collect and analyze the stable isotopic composition of weekly water samples from the Penobscot River for use in coastal and ocean circulation studies and assessing the impact of seasonal and shorter-term events (e.g., storms, spring melt) on river flow and composition. At the same time, Cultural Knowledge Keepers involved in the project will share traditional perspectives of river hydrology, in partnership with an NSF INCLUDES project that seeks to change the structural lens of academic research with the inclusion of cultural science as an equitable partner. This, combined with the quantitative data collected, enriches the research experience for the student and broadens the understanding from the analytical perspective for the faculty. 


Sea Grant funds: $2,000