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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:Dartmouth College
  • Michelle L Fame
  • (540) 521-6241
Award Date:07/19/2021
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 246,288
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 118,665
  • FY 2021=$118,665
Start Date:05/01/2022
End Date:04/30/2024
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 R&RA ARP Act DEFC V
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Timescales and drivers of floodplain disequilibrium at climatic transitions
Federal Award ID Number:2114748
DUNS ID:041027822
Parent DUNS ID:041027822
Program:Geomorphology & Land-use Dynam
Program Officer:
  • Raleigh Martin
  • (703) 292-7199

Awardee Location

Awardee Cong. District:02

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Dartmouth College
Cong. District:02

Abstract at Time of Award

This award is funded in whole or in part under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). Rivers and floodplains significantly influence the landscapes and environments through which they pass. These systems exhibit a range of forms and characteristics (morphologies) controlled by a balance between the availability of unconsolidated rock (sediment) and the river’s capacity to transport that sediment. As climate exerts a major control on these variables, floodplain morphologies are expected to undergo major changes as Earth’s climate warms. Under a warming climate, sediment supply often declines relative to transport capacity and narrowing floodplains are characterized by vertical cutting through older deposits creating stair-stepped landscape features called river terraces. The goal of this study is to deepen our understanding of how floodplains have responded to different magnitudes and timescales of climatic changes in the past to enhance our ability to predict the extent to which they will change in the future. This goal will be achieved by determining the timing of river terrace formation and comparing it to known climate shifts throughout Earth’s recent geological past. The project also supports a summer workshop on landscape evolution for middle school girls from historically underrepresented groups, the development of an accessible undergraduate virtual field project on terrace formation, and the facilitation of a community field workshop to share project results. Specific research questions include: (1) What duration and intensity of climatic change is required to drive significant changes to floodplain morphology? (2) How long does it take for floodplains to establish new, stable morphologies after significant climate-driven changes? (3) To what extent do non-climatic mechanisms counter or enhance climatic controls on floodplain processes? These questions will be addressed by resolving the timing of ~14,000 years of floodplain aggradation and degradation preserved in river terraces in eastern Scotland and comparing them against the timing of major and minor climatic transitions and glaciations. Eastern Scotland is an ideal location to undertake this work because it is tectonically inactive, has an excellent climate chronology, has undergone both continental ice sheet and alpine glaciation, and contains river terrace successions. The terrace chronology will be developed using radiocarbon, optically stimulated luminescence, and cosmogenic nuclide exposure dating. A comparison of the timing and duration of river morphology changes between field sites with the same climatic and glacial history, but with different catchment properties, will be undertaken to determine how non-climatic variables influence aggradation and degradation cycles. The research will also address the role of prior glacial erosion on influencing floodplain morphology and modern sediment routing. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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