Toward understanding the global impacts of human activities on floodplain integrity

Sponsor: Colorado Water Center

Duration: 2020–2021

PI: Ryan Morrison

Collaborator: Fernando Nardi (University of Foreigners in Perugia, Italy)

Floodplain integrity can be defined as the ability of a floodplain to support essential geomorphic, hydrologic, and ecological functions that maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services. Although it is clear that humans have globally altered floodplain integrity, we do not have robust methods for quantifying the overall impact of human activities on floodplain processes. Through this research I will develop and apply a methodology to evaluate floodplain integrity by leveraging initial results from my previous work while collaborating with international researchers that provide additional expertise. Specifically, my objectives for this research are to: 1) Identify and compile global datasets that can serve as proxies to human impacts to major floodplain functions; 2) Develop and apply a methodology for assessing global floodplain integrity; and 3) Build stronger international relationships to expand my research network and leverage for future proposals To meet these objectives, I will work with a student and my international collaborators to co-host a workshop at the Water Resource Research and Documentation Centre in Perugia, Italy, where we will compile relevant large-scale datasets necessary to evaluate floodplain integrity. By quantifying reductions to floodplain functionality at broad scales, this work can help target management efforts towards the most impaired floodplains.

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Ryan Morrison
Assistant Professor