The problem of watershed sediment yield is well posed: what is the delivery per time of sediment to the outlet of a river basin? It is also beyond our current ability to predict. Advances in monitoring and statistical analysis have substantially improved our ability to estimate sediment yield under present and previous conditions. But how do we predict what it will be in the future?
This classic problem in landscape science gains immediate relevance from the need to reduce sediment and nutrient loading to the Nation’s waters. There is a rich history of concepts and models to draw on in developing a predictive approach to sediment yield, and a remarkable set of new tools that can reveal the location and history of surfaces and sediments at high resolution.
What is the mix of old and new that will allow us to most effectively account for watershed history and the blend of episodic and routine mechanisms? How can we most effectively link cause and effect in order to predict how changes in watershed management or climate might change sediment yield? And if we solve that problem, how can we develop the support of local stakeholders such that better ideas and a comprehensive strategy might actually be implemented?
This talk will draw lessons from a decade-long effort to determine sediment sources, evaluate management strategies, and develop consensus for addressing sediment loading from a watershed that looks much like Champaign County, but happens to be located in southern Minnesota.
Read more: Dr. Peter Wilcock (BS '78) Receives GGIS Distinguished Alumnus Award