UMass researcher receives National Science Foundation grant

John Gartner will use his grant to study how large floods affect rivers.
John Gartner will use his grant to study how large floods affect rivers. | File photo

University of Massachusetts researcher John Gartner has received a $50,000 renewable grant by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics.

Gartner will use the grant to study the effects that large floods have on rivers and the process of how it all works when this happens. He hopes that his research will help the recovery of land, ecosystems and communities when floods occur and when humans rearrange streams.

“Unfortunately, rivers don’t always work best when they are deep and straight and fast,” Christine Hatch, one of Gartner’s fellowship mentors, said. “Channelization greatly increases the water’s energy, so in the next flood event, channelized rivers have a huge amount of power to carve away roads, move houses, reposition gravel bars and generally destroy everything in their path. It’s a fire hose effect.”

“Right now, we typically view flooding as a bad thing, but what’s underappreciated is that it can be a good thing because floods are effective at restoring river systems to their natural state,” Gartner said. “I study how they do that, what happens in the process and how long it takes.”

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