Month: January 2019

Dams, Sediment Discontinuity, and Management Responses in Mediterranean River Basins: Report from Conference at ENS Lyon, October 2018

River basin management has mostly concerned management of water resources, with relatively little attention paid to the sediment continuity essential to maintain downstream channel functions and coastal features.  The sediment loads of most major rivers have decreased in recent decades – as a result of extensive trapping of sediment by dams, increasingly manifest in accelerated coastal erosion and loss of delta lands.

This conference examined three large rivers in southern Europe: the Rhône, Ebro, and Po.  All have headwaters in high mountain ranges and traverse Mediterranean-climate dominated basins.  All three have experienced afforestation of their mountainous headwaters since the 19th century, which has reduced erosion rates and sediment supply to the river system.  All three have been extensively modified and impounded for irrigation water supply, hydroelectric production, flood control, and navigation, mined for production of construction aggregate, and otherwise altered for human uses, and all three evince erosion and subsidence of sediment-deprived deltas.

For each river, speakers reported on sediment discontinuity and sediment management from both geomorphic and environmental history perspectives (see programme below). One intervention, a social science perspective on sediment in the Rhône, was in the form of a half-hour video, which is available as indicated below.  In discussion, speakers and participants from the audience drew comparisons among the three river basins, noting similarities and differences.  There was broad agreement among participants that the topic as framed by the conference merits further exploration.

The conference was hosted by the Collegium – Lyon Institute of Advanced Studies and the CNRS Laboratory UMR 5600 Environnement Ville Société, and co-sponsored by the Agence Francaise de la Biodiversité, Eléctricité de France, and Companie Nationale du Rhône, in collaboration GRAIE and the Agence de l’Eau Rhône-Méditerranée-Corse.  The conference was coordinated with a broader research effort initiated by Professor G Mathias Kondolf (UC Berkeley) and Asst Professor Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po), The Social Life of the Sediment Balance: A Social and Geomorphic Approach to the Transformation of River Systems and Deltas, supported by the France-Berkeley Fund and a UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix-Sciences Po collaboration grant.  A follow-up workshop looking at the issues of sediment management at a river basin scale more broadly is planned for May 2019.



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Flood management for a trans-boundary river from North to South Korea

Jaeeung Yi, Ajou University, Korea

Friday 25 January 2019, 11-12h30, Moses Hall 223

The Imjin River flows from North to South Korea, with 63 percent of its basin in the North. North Korea constructed several reservoirs in the upper Imjin River and released high flows downstream several times without warning South Korea, causing massive damage four times since 1996. The ongoing political tensions between South and North Korea makes it difficult to control floods in the Imjin River altogether. South Korea built the Gunnam flood control reservoir on the lower Imjin River (2013) and the Hantan River flood control dam on a tributary (2016), but these have been insufficient to control floods in the lower Imjin River. Improved measurement and modeling of flows into Gunnam reservoir allows us to develop reservoir operation policies to maximize the flood control benefits of two flood control reservoirs.

Jaeeung Yi is a professor at the department of civil engineering in Ajou University, Korea and he is currently a visiting scholar at the Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, UC. Berkeley. His main study area is hydrology and water resources system management.

This seminar is part of the interdisciplinary faculty seminar series, Water Management: Past and Future Adaptation, presented under the auspices of the UC Berkeley Institute of International Studies.  As both the developed and developing world confront intensifying demands on rivers and other water resources, impacts are evident from extractions of water for human uses, proliferation of dams, mining sediments from river beds, and intensified land-use impacts, all exacerbated by climate change. Accelerated erosion of coasts and deltas (e.g., from sediment starvation, groundwater pumping, accelerated sea-level rise) are among the manifestations of these impacts. Our seminar takes an interdisciplinary approach these challenges by examining how societies have adapted to variability in the past (uncertainty in water supply, flood risk, etc) and considers the tools we have to manage future variability in river flows and sediment loads, including variability in water supplies, increased flood risk, and the existential threat to many coastal and riverine areas.

The Social Life of the Sediment Balance: workshop call for papers

University of California Berkeley, 29-30 May 2019
Convenors: Giacomo Parrinello (Sciences Po Paris) & G Mathias Kondolf (UC Berkeley)

Fluvial geomorphology has developed a sophisticated understanding of the links between upstream basins and deltas, including the impact of dams on sediment fluxes, the consequences of sand and gravel mining, or the construction of embankments. Environmental history, historical geography, and science and technology studies (STS) have shed light on the entanglement between river systems and social dynamics, emphasizing the crucial role of technology and engineering and the complexity of policy and politics of river management. We believe that there is much to be gained in combining the insights and approaches of these disciplines to the study of sediments in river systems. The workshop will convene fluvial geomorphologists, environmental historians, historical geographers, and STS scholars with a shared interest in geomorphological change of rivers and deltas, to compare and discuss research questions, methodologies, and empirical cases. Our aim is to lay the foundation for a sustained interdisciplinary dialogue.

This workshop is part of a collaborative effort funded by grants from the France-Berkeley Fund, the UC Berkeley Social Science Matrix and Institute of International Studies, and an Emergence(s) grant from the City of Paris.  Within the limits of available budget, we will cover travel expenses and lodging of selected participants. We especially welcome applications from junior scholars (PhD candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and other early career scholars).

Your proposal should consist of an abstract (ca. 300 words) and a brief biographical note (ca. 150 words). Please submit proposals to by 31 January 2018 with the subject “Sediment Workshop.”

Workshop call for papers flyer available for download here