Widespread use of bedrock water by woody plants across the U.S.

Check out my most recent paper (published in Nature, September, 2021) where we use a combination of field and remotely sensed data to estimate the extent and frequency of bedrock water use by woody plants across the continental U.S. We find that forests commonly exist on shallow soils underlain by bedrock and that bedrock water, in the form of rock moisture and groundwater, is likely a critical source for transpiration for many ecosystems.

Picture of a tree in front of a waterfall in Ghana

About Me

I am a first-year PhD Student and NSF GRFP recipient at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability in the Department of Earth System Science. I am in Alexandra Konings' Remote Sensing Ecohydrology Group.

I graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2016 and received my B.S. in Environmental Science, Geology in 2020 from the Jackson School of Geoscience at UT Austin. After graduation, I continued to work as a full-time researcher in Daniella Rempe's group.

My work centers on understanding where, when, and why plants access water stored in weathered bedrock. More broadly, I am interested in untangling how the various processes and resource limitations which govern transpiration can be measured and categorized at various scales in order to isolate thresholds and recommendations for forest health under climate change.

In my free time, I get outside as much as possible, play with my dog and partner, play bluegrass and folk music, and dabble in ceramics and fiber arts!

Contact me at ericamcc [at] stanford [dot] edu 

headshot of Erica McCormick climbing a tree


In Progress

A.G. Konings, K. Rao, E. L. McCormick, A.T. Trugman, A.P. Williams, N.S. Diffenbaugh, M. Yebra, M. Zhao (In Revision) Species cover explains only half of spatial variability in plant water sensitivity. Global Change Biology.

D. M. Rempe*, E. L. McCormick*, W. J. Hahm, G. Persad, C. Cummins, D. A. Lapides, K. D. Chadwick, D. Dralle. Resilience of woody ecosystems to precipitation variability. (In Prep) 10.31223/X5XW7D. [pdf] *co-first author


W. J. Hahm, D. A. Lapides, D. M. Rempe, E. L. McCormick, D. Dralle. The age of evapotranspiration: lower-bound constraints from distributed water fluxes across the continental United States. Water Resources Research (2022). 10.1029/2022WR032961. [pdf]


E. L. McCormick, D. Dralle, W. J. Hahm, A. Tune, L. Schmidt, K. D. Chadwick, D. M. Rempe. (2021) Evidence for widespread woody plant use of water stored in bedrock.Nature. 10.1038/s41586-021-03761-3. [pdf] [Scientific American highlight, Eos spotlight, UT Austin News, Simon Fraser University News]

Dralle, W.J. Hahm, K. Dana Chadwick, E. L. McCormick, D. M. Rempe. (2021) Technical note: Accounting for snow in the estimation of root-zone water storage capacity from precipitation and evapotranspiration fluxes. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. 10.5194/hess-25-2861-2021. [pdf]


Matheny, A.M., P. Marchetto, J. Powell, A. Rechner, J.-Y. Chuah, E. L. McCormick, S. Pierce (2019) LEAF: Logger for Ecological and Atmospheric Factors. HardwareX. 10.1016/j.ohx.2019.e00079. [pdf]


Mursinna, A.R., E. L. McCormick, K. Van Horn, L. Sartin, A.M. Matheny (2018) Plant hydraulic trait covariation: a global meta-analysis to reduce degrees of freedom in trait-based hydrologic models. Forests.10.3390/f9080446. Cover Article. [pdf]