Research

Our research focuses around three major questions, linked around the idea of how water and sediment supply change river systems, and the climate drivers that force these.

  1. How did ice sheets and global sea-level change since the Last Glacial Maximum, ~26,00019,500 years ago, and what can this teach us about past and modern landscapes, ice dynamics, climate, and glacial-isostatic adjustment?
  2. What causes river systems to aggrade and incise, how does this relate to changes in climate and land-use, and how do we interpret the fluvial terrace record? To this end, we are developing geomorphic maps, software tools for hydrologic models, and paleohydrologic records.
  3. How do we build effective, inexpensive, and open-source field instrumentation and deploy it to answer pressing questions about water (in all its forms), weather, climate, and geomorphic change?

The Mississippi River basin and its potential to be a natural geomorphic laboratory is the interdisciplinary focus of our work.

Ice sheets and Global Sea Level

The ice-scoured Wind River Range in Wyoming, USA: rugged subglacial topography.

Global glacial cycles shaped the continents, altered the courses of rivers, and affected global climate.

River network response to climate and land-use change

River networks transport sediment, and as a result, aggrade and incise, sending (for alluvial rivers) nonlinear diffusional waves of sediment upstream and downstream that interact with each other and set the pace and style of landscape response to changing water supply, sediment supply, and base level. We aim to understand the links between river systems and external drivers such as climate, glaciation, and land use. This can be recorded in river long profoiles, grain size, terraces, valley width, and drainage network structure. What are the underlying physical rules that govern river morphology and the clues from the landscape that we can connect to process? To answer this question, we develop theory and its numerical implementations, perform field studies (primarily in the upper Mississippi valley and northwestern Argentina), and run and analyze physical experiments.

 

Open-source data loggers and instrumentation for the field

Why monitor one site when you could monitor ten for the same price? And why not do it as a community initiative. That's what we're doing.