Doctoral candidate Edward Park (Co-PI) and Professor Edgardo Latrubesse (PI) of the Department of Geography and the Environment has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a multidisciplinary project in the Amazon River and floodplains. The title of the project is “Roles of tributaries, floodplains and the anabranching channels on suspended sediment transport patterns in the Amazon River”, which will be supported with the $ 14,687 grant. In this project, the research team will perform field surveys and collect in-situ samples along the Amazon River coupled with remote sensing products and laboratory analysis to characterize the continental-scale sediment transport mechanisms in the Amazon River channel-floodplain systems.
Abstract of the NSF project:
Large rivers play a fundamental role on the planet by transporting eroded materials from continent to the ocean, facilitating the nutrient transfer through biogeochemical cycles, and sustaining complex ecosystems and high biodiversity. However, their mechanisms of sediment transport and floodplain storage are still not well understood. In the case of the Amazon River, the largest river on our planet in water discharge, complexity in sediment transport pattern is affected by the inputs from large tributaries, anabranching channel pattern, and vast floodplains. This doctoral dissertation research will investigate the roles of large tributaries, anabranching channel planform, and vast complex floodplains on sediment transport patterns along the Amazon River. The results of this project will fill knowledge gaps on morphodynamics of large rivers as, traditionally, the assessments of sediment transport patterns have relied substantially on laboratory experiments, field measurements or numerical modeling on small to mid-scale rivers, but rarely on large rivers. Considering that large rivers generally follow the anabranching patterns, methods proposed in this project can be applied to variety of morphodynamics and environmental analyses of large river systems around the world. The results of this project will also be important to wetland ecology, water resources managements, remote sensing, and local policy makers. This research project will strengthen the ties between U.S and Brazilian institutions through collaborations and also incorporate educational outreach to local school organizations to support underrepresented k-12 students in the science.
Assessing sediment transport, mapping sedimentary environments and landforms in large rivers in multi-temporal scale have been areas of focus for river scientists across disciplines, because sediment plays a major role in the hydrophysical and ecological functions, evolution of the complex channel-floodplain system, and biogeochemical cycles in fluvial system. By integrating field hydrogeomorphic data with 16 years (2000-2015) of suspended sediment concentration maps over the entire Amazon River derived from remotely sensed data, this project will address the two core questions: (1) what are the spatiotemporal patterns of sediment transport at the major confluences along the anabranching main channel?; (2) what are the sediment transport, deposition patterns, and sediment budgets in the floodplains? The researchers will perform field surveys and geomorphic mapping, and collect in-situ samples along the Amazon River coupled with remote sensing products and laboratory analysis to characterize the macro-scale sediment transport mechanisms in the Amazon River channel-floodplain systems.
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