James Brasington

Director, Waterways Centre for Freshwater ManagementJames Brasington

Beatrice Tinsley Rm 426
Internal Phone: 90154
My research focuses on the development of new methods to monitor and numerically model the feedbacks between river forms, processes and hazards.


Research Interests

My research focuses on the links between the Earth’s surface morphology and the physical processes that shape it. This relationship is two way, as topography exerts a primary control on the distribution and intensity of geophysical flows which in turn, shape our landscapes through erosion and sedimentation. I am fortunate to be working on this theme now as the geosciences undergo a technological revolution that is transforming the measurement of topography. This step-change is driven by the emergence of new Earth observation platforms and sensors, in particular airborne and terrestrial laser scanners and methods to model landforms in three dimensions from ground-based, aerial and satellite imagery. Datasets which capture the geometry of integrated landscapes, built upwards from their particle scale building blocks, are fast becoming a reality.

This data revolution has far reaching consequences, offering insights into the scaling of topography, non-invasive methods to quantify landscape form across multiple spatial scales and a framework to measure 3D change and sediment budgets robustly. Perhaps more fundamentally, these data offer new opportunities to develop novel tools to parameterize and test numerical models in order to better predict the dynamics of the key geophysical flows which both supply and threaten our growing populations.

Within this broad theme, my research has focused on river and catchment dynamics with notable highlights including:

• Geospatial monitoring and modelling of river form and dynamics

• Designing benchmark methods for quantifying geomorphic change.

• Numerical modeling of river hydrodynamics and morphodynamics.

• Discrete &individual based modelling of environmental systems.

Recent Publications

  • Abell JM., Pingram MA., Özkundakci D., David BO., Scarsbrook M., Wilding T., Williams A., Noble M., Brasington J. and Perrie A. (2023) Large floodplain river restoration in New Zealand: synthesis and critical evaluation to inform restoration planning and research. Regional Environmental Change 23(1) http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10113-022-01995-z.
  • Brierley GJ., Hikuroa D., Fuller IC., Tunnicliffe J., Allen K., Brasington J., Friedrich H., Hoyle J. and Measures R. (2023) Reanimating the strangled rivers of Aotearoa New Zealand. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water 10(2) http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1624.
  • Westerhoff R., McDowell R., Brasington J., Hamer M., Muraoka K., Alavi M., Muirhead R., Lovett A., Ruru I. and Miller B. (2022) Towards implementation of robust monitoring technologies alongside freshwater improvement policy in Aotearoa New Zealand. Environmental Science and Policy 132: 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2022.01.020.
  • Batalla RJ., Gibbins CN., Alcázar A., Brasington J., Buendia C., Garcia C., Llena M., López R., Palau A. and Rennie C. (2021) Hydropeaked rivers need attention. Environmental Research Letters 16(2) http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/abce26.
  • Reesink AJH., Darby SE., Sear DA., Leyland J., Morgan PR., Richardson K. and Brasington J. (2020) Mean flow and turbulence structure over exposed roots on a forested floodplain: Insights from a controlled laboratory experiment. PLoS ONE 15(2) http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229306.