Title: A More Erosive World?: Fluvial Responses to Hydroclimatic Change
Abstract: While there is clear and widespread evidence that rising temperatures have perturbed the hydrology of watersheds globally, the geomorphic effects of hydroclimatic change in fluvial systems have been more difficult to detect. In this talk, I discuss how rivers respond to disturbances generally and ask whether the magnitude of current climatic extremes we are experiencing is resulting in meaningful changes to geomorphic processes in river corridors. I explore evidence from rivers in New England that have experienced two “1-in-500 year” events in the last 12 years; remotely sensed records of erosion along Arctic channels; and finally, data collected at dam removal sites to simulate fluvial responses to disturbance. Together these data indicate we are entering a more erosive world as temperatures rise. Rivers of the future that erode their banks more quickly is more than just a scientific curiosity, it means increased risk for the two billion people around the world living in floodplains and has meaningful implications for the global carbon cycle.