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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Brian D. Collins
ESS 590
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Class description

Competing demands on rivers, threatened riverine ecosystems, and a changing climate sharpen the need to intelligently manage and restore rivers. Doing so requires: (1) that we understand rivers, their ecosystem linkages, and the ways rivers affect, and are affected by, humans, and (2) skill in applying that scientific understanding.

This course emphasizes theory and tools in fluvial geomorphology and their use in framing and addressing problems in contexts that include engineering, land use planning, resource management, and river restoration.

Topics include: (1) fundamentals of fluvial geomorphology and the interaction of physical and ecological processes; (2) the sediment budget framework for assessing human and natural change to sources, storage, and transport of sediment; (3) assessing historical change to channels and predicting channel response to future human activities or to environmental change; (4) managing the flow regime of regulated rivers to restore channels and their habitats; (5) riparian forests and fluvial wood in river and floodplain engineering and restoration; (6) river and floodplain processes, channel migration and flood hazards, and floodplain restoration.

While this course has an applied focus, the same tools learned and understanding developed apply to basic research into fluvial systems.

Student learning goals

An understanding of fluvial geomorphology and of how rivers and floodplains interact with their ecosystems.

An appreciation for the applications of geomorphology to managing, planning, and restoring human-altered river systems.

Knowledge of tools available for analyzing process, form, and the temporal and spatial context of fluvial systems.

Insight and skill in applying theory to problems, including how to frame a problem, develop approaches to addressing it, and choose the appropriate tools.

General method of instruction

Roughly half of twice-weekly meetings will consist of lectures, the other half of in-class exercises and student-led discussion of relevant papers. There will be two Saturday field trips to rivers in western Washington.

Recommended preparation

This class is appropriate for students with an interest in fluvial geomorphology and its application. Students from related programs (e.g., SAFS, SEFS, CEE)are welcome. However, preparation should include ESS 326 (Introductory Geomorphology) or equivalent; ESS 426 (Fluvial Geomorphology) will be helpful but is not required.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Brian D. Collins
Date: 02/07/2013