Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Geography and Geology

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Cave systems are home to delicate underground ecosystems that can be affected by changes in surface atmospheric conditions which in turn affect underground meteorology. Modern human use of caves is typically for tourism, so understanding surface-underground weather-climate interactions is important when caves carry streams that are prone to flooding in response to surface precipitation. The purpose of this research is to document the effects of surface weather conditions on cave meteorology in three different cave system types located in different geographic locations including an island, the central USA, and at high elevations in British Columbia. The study caves include Kaumana Cave in Hawaii, Coldwater Cave in Iowa, and Cody Caves in British Columbia. All harbor unique ecosystems, carry cave streams, and see tourist activity. Data loggers measuring temperature and relative humidity were installed in each cave system with a sampling interval of 5 to 10 minutes for a span of 5-7 days depending on the cave. Additional long-term sampling was conducted for Coldwater and Cody Caves. The data for all three caves, and local surface meteorological data from all locations were statistically analyzed and compared with results showing that there is a statistically significant relationship between surface meteorological conditions and cave system meteorology.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Patricia Kambesis, Dr. Greg Goodrich

Disciplines

Geology | Meteorology

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