Kathy Tonnessen

Photo of Tonnessen, Kathy

Kathy Tonnessen

Adjunct Research Assistant Professor; National Park Service, retired

Personal Summary

Kathy began her training in ecology and environmental policy while a double major in biology and political science at Cornell University, where she got her A.B. in 1974. During the period of 1974-1993 she spent time as a consultant in the Earth Sciences Division of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, CA, involved in environmental assessment of energy development projects, including oil and gas stimulation efforts in western Colorado, sponsored by the Department of Energy. While at the University of California, Berkeley she earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, working on a field and lab project to determine the impact of air pollution on lakes and streams in the Sierra Nevada. She joined the California Air Resources Board in l982 and worked for nine years on their statewide acid deposition research and monitoring program. She was project manager for investigations of water quality, hydrology, aquatic biota, vegetation, soils, deposition, and air quality at high elevations, and watershed modeling. Since l991 she has worked with the National Park Service, first with the Air Resources Division in Lakewood, CO, and currently with the Intermountain Regional Office. She established one of the first Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units at the University of Montana in Missoula. In this position she coordinates research and technical assistance for the Rocky Mountain parks, while continuing her involvement with air issues. She has served as secretary for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program and is a member of the International Air Quality Advisory Board of the International Joint Commission. Kathy is an adjunct professor with the College of Forestry and Conservation at University of Montana, Missoula, where she continues to work on research associated with air quality and surface waters at National Parks of the west.


1982 Ph.D. in Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley
1979 M.S. in Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley
1974 A.B. in Ecology, Cornell University

Research Interests

Natural resource management in National Parks
Air quality and its effects on snow, hydrology and chemistry
Inventory and monitoring

Selected Publications

Tonnessen, K. and J. Harte, "The potential for acid precipitation damage to aquatic ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada, California," in: Ecological Impacts of Acid Precipitation , edited by D. Drablos and A. Tollan, SNSF Proj. Rep., 1980.

Tonnessen, K., "The potential effects of acid deposition on aquatic ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada, California," Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1983.

Tonnessen, K. and J. Harte, "Acid rain and ecological damage: implications of the Sierra Nevada lake studies," Public Affairs Rep., Inst. Gov. Studies., Univ. Calif., Berkeley, CA, 1982.

Tonnessen, K., "Potential for aquatic ecosystem acidification in the Sierra Nevada, Calif.,"in: Early Biotic Responses to Advancing Lake Acidification, edited by G. Hendrey, vol. 6, Butterworth Publ., Woburn, MA, 1983.

Tonnessen, K. and J. Harte, "Potential for acid-precipitation damage to lakes in the Sierra Nevada, Calif.," In Proc. Intl. Symp. Hydrometeorol., pp. 505-508,Amer. Water Resour. Assoc., Bethesda, MD, 1983.

Tonnessen, K., "Forest ecosystem monitoring," in: Proc. Calif. Forest Response Planning Conf., edited by S. Bicknell, Calif. Air Resour. Board, Sacramento, CA, 1987.

Blanchard, C., K. Tonnessen and L. Ashbaugh, "Acidic deposition in California forests: precipitation chemistry measurements from the California acid deposition monitoring program," Transact. AWMA Meetings, Anaheim, CA, June 25-30, 1989.

Herman, D. J., P. W. Rundel, A. D. Brown, L. J. Lund, W. L. Berry, M. A. Lueking,T. V. St. John and K. Tonnessen, "Biogeochemical aspects of aluminum cycling in a Sierran subalpine lake watershed," Transact. AWMA Meetings, Anaheim, CA, June 25-30, 1989.

Tonnessen, K., "The Emerald Lake watershed study, Sequoia National Park: an overview," Water Resour. Res. 27, 1537, 1991. (introduction to a special section on the Integrated Watershed Study.)

Tonnessen, K., "Acid deposition and global change research in Sequoia National Park:A case study of interagency cooperation," in: Proc. Intl. Symp. On Managing Water Resources During Global Change pp. 497-507,Amer. Water Resour. Assoc., Bethesda, MD, 1992.

Williams, M., K. Tonnessen, J. Melack, and Y. Daqing, "Sources and spatial variation of the chemical composition of snow in the Tien Shan, China," Annals of Glaciology 16, 25-32, 1992.

Blanchard, C. L. and K. A. Tonnessen, "Precipitation-chemistry measurements from the California Acid Deposition Monitoring Program, 1985-1990, Atmospheric Environment 27A , 1755-1763, 1993.

Stolte, K., D. Mangis, R. Doty, and K. Tonnessen, "Lichens as bioindicators of air quality," USDA Forest Service General Technical Report, RM-224, Rocky Mountain Range and Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO, 1993.

Tonnessen, K., "Canadian and U.S. agencies get together to monitor air pollutants in protected areas," FOCUS on International Joint Commission Activities 18, 24-25, 1993.

Elder, K., S. Fullerton, and K. Tonnessen, "Winter mass balance measurements on Teton Glacier, Grand Teton National Park," Park Science 14 ,11-13, 1994.

Shaver, C., K. Tonnessen, and T. Maniero, "Clearing the air at Great Smoky Mountains National Park," Ecological Applications 4, 690-701, 1994.

Nash, B., K. Tonnessen, D. Joseph, and M. Flores, "Status of air quality in the national park system," National Biological Service, National Status and Trends Report, 1995.

Tonnessen, K., M. W. Williams, and M. Tranter, Eds., "Biogeochemistry of Seasonally Snow-Covered Catchments," IAHS Press, Wallingford, UK, 1995.

Binkley, D., I. Dockersmith, C. Giardina, D. Morse, and K. Tonnessen, "Air quality and its effects on the Colorado Plateau," NPS-Air Resources Division Report, 1995.

Tonnessen, K., "Atmospheric deposition in the southern Appalachians," in: Southern Appalachian Assessment, SAMAB, Gatlinburg, TN, 1996 .

Williams, M. W., P. D. Brooks, A. R. Mosier, and K. Tonnessen, "Mineral N transformations in and under seasonal snow in a high-elevation catchment, Rocky Mountains, USA," Water Resources Research 32 ,3175-3185, 1996.

IAQAB, "Special Report on Transboundary Air Quality", International Joint Commission, Washington, DC, 1998.

Tonnessen, K., "Demonstration Intensive Site Project (DISPro): EPA/NPS cooperative research and monitoring network using parks as index sites," in: Linking Protected Areas with Working Landscapes Conserving
Biodiversity , edited by N. Munro and J. H. M. Willison, Science and Management of Protected Areas Assoc., Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, pp. 378-383, 1998.

Summers, J. K., and K. Tonnessen, "Linking monitoring and effects research: EMAP's intensive site network program," Environ. Monit. Assess.51 , 369-380, 1998.

Inyan, B., M. Williams, K. Tonnessen, J. Turk, and D. Campbell, "Seasonal inorganic nitrogen release in alpine lakes on the Colorado western slope." Physical Geography 19: 406-420, 1998.

Brooks, P.D., Campbell, D.H., Tonnessen, K.A., and Heuer, K. "Natural variability in N export from headwater catchments: snow cover controls on ecosystem N retention." Hydrol. Process. 13:2191-2201, 1999.

Heuer K., Brooks, P.D., and Tonnessen, K.A. "Nitrogen dynamics in two high elevation catchments during spring snowmelt 1996, Rocky Mountains, Colorado." Hydrol. Process. 13: 2203-2214, 1999.

Tonnessen, K. and K. Heuer. First Annual Report of the Park Research and Intensive Monitoring of Ecosystems Network, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Air Resources Division, June 1999, 68pp.

Schoettle, A., K. Tonnessen, J. Turk, J. Vimont, R. Amundson. "An assessment of the effects of human-caused air pollution on resource within the Interior Columbia River Basin." General Technical Report PNW-GTR-447. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR, 1999.

Heuer, K., K. Tonnessen and G. Ingersoll. "Comparison of precipitation chemistry in the Central Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA." Atmospheric Environment 34 (11) 1713-1722, 2000.

Williams, M. and K. Tonnessen. "Critical loads for inorganic nitrogen deposition in the Colorado Front Range, USA," Ecological Applications 10(6): 1648-1665, 2000.

Fagre, D., K. Tonnessen, K. Morris, G. Ingersoll, L. McKeon and K. Holzer. "An elevational gradient in snowpack chemical loading at Glacier National Park, Montana: implications for ecosystem processes," In: Merging of Theory and Practice: Proceedings of the International Snow Science Workshop: October 1-6, 2000, Big Sky, MT, pp 462-467, 2000.

Campbell,D., J. Baron, K. Tonnessen, P. Brooks, P. Shuster. "Controls on nitrogen flux in alpine/subalpine watersheds of Colorado." Water Resources Research 36: 37-47, 2000.

Williams, Mark and Kathy Tonnessen, "Critical loads for inorganic N deposition in wetfall to the central Rocky Mountains, USA." In Proceedings of the International Symposium High Mountain Lakes and Streams-Indicators of a Changing World, September 4-8, Innsbruck, Austria, 2000.

Campbell, Don, George Ingersoll, Alisa Mast, David Clow, Leora Nanus, Carol Kendall and Kathy Tonnessen, "Nitrogen saturation in the Rocky Mountains: linking emissions, deposition and effects on sensitive ecosystems." In Proceedings of the International Symposium High Mountain Lakes and Streams-Indicators of a Changing World, September 4-8, Innsbruck, Austria, 2000.

Tonnessen,K., "Protecting Wilderness Air Quality in the United States", In Cole, D., S. McCool, B. Borrie, J. O'Loughlin (eds), Wilderness Science in a time of change conference, May 23-27, 1999, Missoula, MT. Proceedings RMRS-P-15-Vol 5, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, Utah, pp 74-96. 2000.

Ingersoll GP, K. Tonnessen, D. Campbell, B. Glass, A. Torrizo. "Comparing bulk-deposition chemistry to wetfall chemistry in and near Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado." Proceedings of the 93rd Air and Waste Management Association Annual Conference and Exhibition, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 2000, ISBN: 0-923294-34-2, 18pp, 2000.

Turk, J., H. Taylor, G. Ingersoll, K. Tonnessen, D. Clow, M. A. Mast, D.Campbell and J. Melack. "Major ion chemistry of the Rocky Mountain snowpack, USA", Atmospheric Environment 35 (2001): 3957-3966, 2001.

Tonnessen, Kathy and Kristi Morris, "Deposition in the National Parks" In Air Quality in the National Parks, Monograph of the NPS-Air Resources Division, in review, 2002.

Campbell, D. Kendall, C. Chang, S. Silva, and K. Tonnessen. "Pathways for nitrate release from an alpine watershed: determination using 15N and 18O." Water Resources Research, in press, 2002.

Saunders, M., T. Sullivan, B. Nash, K. Tonnessen and B. Miller, "A knowledge-based approach for classifying lake water chemistry," in review, 2002.


Technical Reports, Symposia, Abstracts, Fact Sheets

Tonnessen, K. and J. Harte, "The potential for acid precipitation damage to ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada, California," Abstract, Amer. Water Resour. Assoc., Minneapolis, MN, 1980.

Tonnessen, K., "The potential impact of acid precipitation on aquatic ecosystems of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada," in: Proc. Calif. Symp. Acid Precip., Calif. Air Resour. Board, Sacramento, CA, 1982.

Tonnessen, K., "Fact sheet: acid precipitation in California," Calif. Air Resour. Board, Sacramento, CA, 1983.

Tonnessen, K., "California's acid deposition research program: aquatic and terrestrial effects research," NAPAP Aquatic Effects Task Group (E) and Terres. Eff. Task Group (F) Peer Review, Asheville, NC, November 1984.

Tonnessen, K., et al., "Annual report to the governor and the legislature on the Air Resources Board's acid deposition research and monitoring program," Calif. Air Resour. Board, Sacramento, CA, 1983, 1984, 1985,
1986, 1988, 1991.

Parsons, D., T. Nichols, D. Duriscoe, P. Miller and K. Tonnessen, "Air pollution effects studies in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks," in: Proc. Natl. Park Sci. Rev. Meetings, Fort Collins, CO, 1986.

Tonnessen, K., "The Integrated Watershed Study, a program of intensive watershed research at Emerald Lake watershed," Ecological Soc. Amer. Annual Meeting, Syracuse, NY, August 1986.

Tonnessen, K., "Protecting the canary - acid rain in California," Environs 11(1):1-5, Univ. Calif. Davis School of Law, Davis, CA, 1987.

Tonnessen, K. and J. Holmes, "Acid deposition in California: monitoring, research, and regulation," Proc. of the Woodland Conf., Houston, 1988.

Dracup, J., J. M. Melack, K. Tonnessen, D. Marks, R. Kattelmann and J. O. Sickman, "The hydrologic mass balance of the Emerald Lake basin integrated watershed study, Sequoia National Park," Final Report, Contract A4-123-32, Calif. Air Resour. Board, Sacramento, CA, 1988.

Calif. Air Resour. Board, "The health and welfare effects of acid deposition in California, an assessment," Sacramento, CA, 1988.

Tonnessen, K., "The integrated watershed study at Emerald Lake - an overview," Intern. Watershed Symp., Lake Tahoe, CA, June 1988.

Tonnessen, K. and J. M. Melack, "The status of montane lakes of the Sierra Nevada relative to the effects of acid deposition," Annual Meeting Amer. Soc. Limnology and Oceanography, Boulder, CO, June 1988.

Tonnessen, K., "The Emerald Lake watershed: site characteristics and Atmospheric inputs," Ecological Soc. Amer. Annual Meeting, Davis, CA, August 1988.

Tonnessen, K. and E. Fujita, "Wet deposition monitoring in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks," 3rd Biennial Meeting on Research in Calif. Natl. Parks, Davis, CA, September 1988.

Tonnessen, K. and C. Blanchard, "Spatial and temporal variability in lake chemistry in the Sierra Nevada, California," Amer. Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 1988.

Blanchard, C., L. Ashbaugh and K. Tonnessen, "Wet and dry atmospheric Deposition at Emerald Lake watershed, Sequoia National Park, California," Amer. Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, December 1988.

Blanchard, C., K. Tonnessen and L. Ashbaugh, "Wet and dry deposition in forested regions of California," 82nd AWMA Meetings, Anaheim, CA, June 1989.

Calif. Air Resour. Board, "The health and welfare effects of acid deposition in California: a technical assessment," Sacramento, CA, 1989.

Calif. Air Resour. Board, "The atmospheric acidity protection program five year plan," Sacramento, CA, 1989.

Tonnessen, K., "Acid deposition in California: an update," Calif. Air Resourc. Board, Sacramento, CA, 1989.

Tonnessen, K., "Air quality in the west: ozone and acid deposition," prepared for Symp. on Air Quality in the West, Univ. Col. Law School, Boulder, CO, 1989.

Tonnessen, K. and D. Peterson, "Sierra Nevada," In Project on Western Environmental Research: Research Plan, EPA, Corvallis, OR, 1989.

Tonnessen, K., "Design of wet deposition monitoring networks in the Sierra Nevada snow zone," Western Snow Conf., Sacramento, CA, April 17-19, 1990.

Tonnessen, K., M. Williams, R. Kattelmann, and K. Elder. "Comparative hydrology and hydrochemistry of the Sierra Nevada, CA amd the Toem Sjam (PRC)," EOS Transactions, Abstract at American Geophysical Union meeting, December 1990.

Tonnessen, K., K. Elder, R. Kattelmann, and M. Williams, "Seasonal snowpack dynamics and chemistry in the Sierra Nevada (California, USA) and the Tien Shan (Xinjang Province, China)," Proceedings of the 59th Western Snow Conference, Juneau, AK, 1991.

Tonnessen, K., "Anatomy of a success: outside funding for research at Sequoia National Park," Courier 37 (7): 18-19, 1992.

Tonnessen, K., "Activities of the International Air Quality Advisory Board," in: Proceedings of the International Air Issues Workshop, Waterton National Park, June, 1995.

Williams, M. and K. Tonnessen, "Comparison of three headwater catchments in the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada and Tien Shan." In EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, December 1995.

Nash, B, K. Tonnessen, K. Heuer, D. Davis, M. Saunders, and B. Miller. "Using the AQUIMS air quality decision support system to identify natural resources at risk from air pollution", In Proc. Of the Amer. Soc. of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Seattle, WA, pp 362-369, 1997.

Elder,K., M. Latituri, R. Greenwood, and K. Tonnessen. "Mass balance changes using historical maps, contemporary data, and a geographic information system, Teton Glacier, Wyoming." Abstract of poster at Hydrology Days, Fort Collins, 1997.

Elder, K., M. Latituri, R. Greenwood, and K. Tonnessen, "Mass balance changes on Teton Glacier using historical and contemporary data," Abstract of poster presentation at Wyoming Water 1997, What's New in the Tool Box? Casper, WY.

Williams, M. W. and K. Tonnessen, "Merging science and policy: setting critical loads for nitrogen deposition in the Rocky Mountains, USA," Proceedings of the Fifth National Watershed Conference, Reno, NV, May, 1997.

Tonnessen, K. and M. Williams. "Setting critical loads for inorganic nitrogen deposition, Colorado Front Range USA." Abstract for American Geophysical Union meeting, San Francisco, December 1997.Campbell, D., C. Kendall, K.

Tonnessen, C. Chang, and S. Silva. "Determination of hydrologic and biogeochemical processes controlling nitrogen cycling using isotopes of water and nitrate." Abstract at Annual meeting of the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, 1999.

Tonnessen, K. NPS-NRID Fact Sheet: "Measuring Ultraviolet Radiation in National Park Units", NPS Intranet, 1999.

Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Network Technical Committee. "Rocky Mountain Network - Full Study Plan for Biological Inventories: Leading to an Integrated Monitoring Program", National Park Service, December 2000. [K. Tonnessen is chair of the I&M Technical Committee]

Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network Technical Committee. "Vertebrate and Vascular Plant Inventory Study Plan", National Park Service, December 2000. [K. Tonnessen is chair of the I&M Technical Committee]

National Atmospheric Deposition Program. "Nitrogen in the Nation's Rain," 13pp, 2000. [K. Tonnessen was one of four authors of this fact sheet/brochure]

Tonnessen, K., "Air Pollution: a chronic stressor in western mountains," Abstract at Ecological Society of American Annual Meeting, Snowbird, UT, 2000.

Brooks, P., C. O'Reilly, S. Diamond, S. Corn, E. Muths and K. Tonnessen, "Climate variability, dissolved organic carbon, UV exposure and amphibian decline", EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union meeting 82(47), Fall Meeting supplement, Abstract H42B-052, 2001.

Tonnessen, K. "Crossing boundaries, CESU Style, Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit", In Harmon, D. (ed), Crossing Boundaries in Park Management: Proceedings of the 11th Conference on Research and Resources Management in Parks and on Public Lands. Hancock, Michigan, The George Wright Society, 2001.

Tonnessen, K. "Air pollution issues in alpine ecosystems of the western United States," Invited plenary abstract In Proceedings of the Wildlife Society, Reno, NV, September 25, 2001.

Tonnessen, K., R. Hiebert and L. Norris. "CESUs and the inventory and monitoring networks: a case of good timing," In Natural Resources Year in Review - 2000, National Park Service, pp 3-4, 2001.

Morris, K. and K. Tonnessen. "Nitrogen deposition in PRIMENet parks units: a comparative analysis," In Proceedings of N2001: The Second International Nitrogen Conference, Bolger Center, Maryland, 14-18 October, 2002, p. 97.

Tonnessen, K. and D. Fagre, "Atmospheric deposition and mountain snowpacks in the northern Rocky Mountains: Implications for Ecosystem processes and regional water quality," Submitted to the Rocky Mountain Summit: Sustaining Ecosystems and their People, September 22-26, 2002, Whitefish, MT.

Tonnessen, K., "Air quality issues in North American mountains," Submitted to the Plenary Session of the Ecological and Earth Science in Mountain Areas Conference, September 6-10, 2002, Banff, Canada.

Tonnessen, K. "Biological Resource Management Division Teams up with Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit to Convene a Workshop on the Effects of Snowmobiles on Wildlife". Submitted to Natural Resources Year in Review - 2001, National Park Service, 2002.

Tonnessen, K. "Air pollution issues in the Rocky Mountains, USA", In International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Changes Newsletter, Bonn, Germany, January 2002.

Tonnessen, K. and L. Gerloff, "Wilderness Workshop, Final Report." University of Montana, Missoula, MT, January 9-10, 2002.

Tonnessen, K., L. Gerloff and M. Lambert, "Record of the Technical Workshop on Remote Delivery of Biologics to Free-Ranging Wildlife." University of Montana, Missoula, MT, January 23-24, 2002.

Campbell, D.H., C. Kendall, C.C.Y. Chang, S.R. Silva and K.A. Tonnessen, Pathways for nitrate release from an alpine watershed: Determination using delta N-15 and delta O18. Water Resourc. Res., 38(), 2002.

NPS- Air Resources Division, Air Quality in the National Parks, National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, Lakewood, CO, 59 pp, September 2002. [wrote chapter on deposition and its effects]

Meixner, T., E. Allen, K. Tonnessen, M. Fenn and M. Poth. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition: implications for managers of western U.S. parks. Park Science 21 (2): 30-33, Spring 2002.

Highlight in "Mountain Science Highlights", Ecological and Earth Sciences in Mountain Areas Symposium, September 2002, Banff, Alberta, Canada. http://www.forestry.ubc.ca/alpine/highlights/index.html

Tonnessen, K.A., P. O'Brien, and R. Hiebert. CESUs in the Intermountain Region: integrating natural and cultural resource research, technical assistance and education. In Natural Resources Year in Review - 2002, National Park Service, pp 29-30, 2003.


Brooks, P., C. O'Reilly, S. Diamond, D. Campbell, R. Knapp, D. Bradford, S. Corn, B. Hossack and K.
Tonnessen. Spatial and Temporal Variability in the Amount and Source of Dissolved Organic Carbon:
Implications for UV Exposure in Amphibian Habitats, accepted in Ecosystems