Masterclass with David Williams

17 September 2019,
Institute of Advanced Studies, UWA
Postgraduate Students, Early Career Researchers, Academics, Professional Researchers


Illustration of the water cycle

Tracing the water cycle in the soil-plant-atmosphere system

An IAS Masterclass with Professor David Williams, Professor of Botany, University of Wyoming and Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Effective stewardship of scarce water resources and management of fragile dryland ecosystems requires detailed understanding of water cycle processes, including the partitioning and pathways of water movement in the soil-plant-atmosphere system. Naturally occurring stable isotopes of H and O are used extensively to trace water sources and detect the importance of key processes (e.g., evaporation, condensation, diffusion, pool mixing) in the water cycle. This masterclass will introduce the fundamental theory underlying application of isotope measurements in ecohydrological studies of dryland ecosystems and address challenging new observations and hypotheses about water movement in the plant rooting zone. Participants will also gain experience with isotope-based calculation tools for quantifying mixing and estimation of evaporation.

David Williams’ research focuses on connections between hydrology, biogeochemistry and plant ecophysiology in dryland ecosystems. He founded and serves as Faculty Director of the University of Wyoming Stable Isotope Facility.


10am-10:15am: Welcome and introductions

10:15am-11am: Stable isotopes in the water cycle: Things you do know, might know or don’t know (David Williams)

11am-11:15am: Question and answer time / 5-minute break

11:20am-12:20pm: Tracing plant water sources using stable isotopes of H and O (David Williams)

12:20-12:30pm: Question and answer

12:30-1:30pm: Lunch

1:30-2:15pm: Partitioning evaporation and transpiration fluxes using stable isotopes of H and O (David Williams)

2:15-2:30pm: Question and answer time / 5 minute break

2:30-4:00pm: Calculation of evaporation from surface water using Hydrocalculator (Greg Skrzypek)