Ongoing projects

large wood West CreekThe dynamics of floodplain large wood in river corridors

Downed, dead wood on the floodplain influences geomorphic processes and provides ecological benefits to river corridors. However, understanding the interactions between floodplain vegetation, wood, and hydrogeomorphology is a new frontier in geomorphic research. This project investigates the geomorphic setting in which floodplain large wood jams can be deposited in the Colorado Front Range and the potential geomorphic, hydrologic, and ecological impacts of floodplain large wood jams in the semi-arid western US.

A major portion of this broader project is titled, "Floodplain ecogeomorphic processes: interactions between floodplain forest characteristics, wood accumulations, and hydrogeomorphology". This project combines flume experiments, numerical modelling, and field observations integrating floodplain forest stand characteristics, hydrogeomorphology, and wood transport and deposition during floods to assess the controls on wood deposition in floodplains and subsequent wood remobilization. The research objectives include (1) understanding the role of the forest stand density on the deposition and storage of wood in floodplains, (2) unravelling the importance of floodplain and channel morphology on floodplain wood dynamics, and (3) assessing overbank flow conditions needed to deposit and remobilize wood onto and from the floodplain to better understand wood jam formation and persistence. Flume experiments will simulate different forest stand densities, overbank flow conditions, and wood transport regimes. The data gathered during the physical experiments will provide baseline information needed to develop empirical relationships for floodplain flow-forest-wood-morphologic interactions. The flume experiments will be used to test and enhance a 2D hydrodynamic model to further explore wood dynamics on floodplains, which will then be applied to a field site where large amounts of floodplain wood jams are present due to a recent flooding event. The results of the project will be disseminated to management agencies and restoration groups in the US and Europe that are incorporating floodplain wood into efforts to enhance floodplain ecosystem functioning. This project will also develop K-12, undergraduate, and graduate level flume laboratory assignments and lessons on floodplain dynamics.

Related publications include:

Lininger, K. B., Scamardo, J., and Guiney, M. (2021). Floodplain wood and organic matter jam formation after a large flood: investigating the influence of floodplain forest stand characteristics and river corridor morphology. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface.

Guiney, M. and Lininger, K.B. (2022). Disturbance and valley confinement: controls on floodplain large wood and organic matter jam deposition in the Colorado Front Range, USA, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 


Dynamic storage of water, sediment, and carbon in the critical zone

Geomorphic complexity created by large wood, beaver, and geomorphic variation influences storage patterns and timescales in mountain rivers and floodplains, which are an integral component of the critical zone. Two critical zone projects in montane watersheds will 1) investigate the role of beaver dams in attenuating and storing sediment, carbon, and metals over decadal timescales, and 2) assess how large wood influences CPOM transport and storage in ephemeral and intermittent streams.


Floodplain organic carbon dynamics along dynamic western river floodplains

We lack understanding of how river corridors store organic carbon in soil and large wood, particularly in diverse environments. This project aims to use legacy remote sensing datasets and fieldwork to relate soil organic carbon with the timescale of channel migration and surface creation, as well as to vegetation types and geomorphic units within the floodplains of large western rivers. We are also investigating how human modifications to flow regimes through dam operations may influence floodplain organic carbon stocks over time.


The geomorphic controls on large wood in river corridorsWood on Preacher Creek, AK

Large wood in river corridors can enhance physical complexity, provide nutrient-rich sites for seedling establishment, create habitat for diverse biota, and provide an important reservoir of organic carbon. We have ongoing work on the geomorphic controls on logjam formation in high-latitude rivers, wood budgets over long time scales using temporally extensive field datasets, and other work related to wood in river corridors.

Related publications include:
Wohl, E., Kramer, N., Ruiz-Villanueva, V., Scott, D. N., Comiti, F., Gurnell, A. M., Piegay, H., Lininger, K. B., Jaeger, K. L., Walters, D. M., Fausch, K. D. et al. (2019). The Natural Wood Regime in Rivers. BioScience, 69(4), 259–273.

Wohl, E., Scott, D. N., & Lininger, K. B. (2018). Spatial distribution of channel and floodplain large wood in forested river corridors of the Northern Rockies. Water Resources Research, 54, 7879–7892.






Past projects

Yukon River, AlaskaFloodplain organic carbon storage in the central Yukon River Basin

This project investigated the spatial distribution of floodplain soil organic carbon and large wood in the Yukon River Basin in interior Alaska. We found that geomorphic processes influence soil organic carbon concentrations across spatial scales, and that current estimates of soil organic carbon in permafrost regions are likely underestimating the amount of carbon stored within floodplains.

Related publications include:
Lininger, K. B., Wohl, E., Rose, J. R., & Leisz, S. J. (2019). Significant floodplain soil organic carbon storage along a large high latitude river and its tributaries. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 2121–2129.

Lininger, K. B., & Wohl, E. (2019). Floodplain dynamics in North American permafrost regions under a warming climate and implications for organic carbon stocks: A review and synthesis. Earth-Science Reviews.

Lininger, K. B., Wohl, E., & Rose, J. R. (2018). Geomorphic Controls on Floodplain Soil Organic Carbon in the Yukon Flats, Interior Alaska, From Reach to River Basin Scales. Water Resources Research, (54), 1934–1951.

Lininger, K. B., Wohl, E., Sutfin, N. A., & Rose, J. R. (2017). Floodplain downed wood volumes: a comparison across three biomes. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 42(8), 1248–1261.


Flooding patterns and floodplain lake connectivity on a large tropical river system

The Araguaia River in central Brazil is a large tropical river with many highly connected floodplain lakes. This project analyzed flood attenuation patterns using discharge records along the middle Araguaia River. It also used satellite imagery to characterize surface water connectivity between the main channel and floodplain lakes. We found that there is significant storage in floodplain lakes that likely influences the extreme flood attenuation observed in the middle Araguaia River.

Related publications include:
Lininger, K. B., & Latrubesse, E. M. (2016). Flooding hydrology and peak discharge attenuation along the middle Araguaia River in central Brazil. CATENA, 143, 90–101.