Emergent reorganization of an evolving experimental landscape under changing climatic forcing

Friday, 19 December 2014
Arvind Singh, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States, Alejandro Tejedor, Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory, Minneapolis, MN, United States, Ilya V Zaliapin, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV, United States, Liam Reinhardt, University of Exeter, Penryn, United Kingdom and Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, Univ Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Understanding landscape re-organization under changing climatic forcing is fundamental to advancing our understanding of geomorphic transport laws under transient conditions, developing predictive models of landscape response to external perturbations, and interpreting the stratigraphic record for past climates by incorporating possible regime shifts. Real landscape observations for long-term analysis are limited and to this end a high resolution controlled laboratory experiment was conducted at the St. Anthony Falls laboratory at the University of Minnesota. Elevation data were collected at temporal resolution of 5 mins and spatial resolution of 0.5 mm as the landscape approached steady state (for a constant uplift and precipitation rate) and in the transient state (under the same uplift and 5x precipitation). The results reveal rapid topographic re-organization under a five-fold precipitation increase with the fluvial regime expanding into previously debris dominated regime, accelerated erosion happening at hillslope scales, and rivers shifting from an erosion-limited to a transport-limited regime. By studying the space-time structure of the individual erosional and depositional events in terms of their size, location, clustering, and total volume we report complex space-time patterns of change which are scale-dependent and bounded by the river network topology. At the same time, the river network topology itself adjusts at smaller scales, with new channels added to accommodate increased hillslope erosional transport, further adjusting the landscape. Some new ideas related to landscape variability and entropy evolution at different scales during steady and transient states and the possibility of analyzing the self-organization with Optimal Mass Transport (OMT) metrics to infer possible underlying “optimality” principles governing the re-organization will also be presented.