William E. Dietrich

William E. Dietrich

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Department of Earth and Planetary Science
(510) 642-2633
(510) 643-9980
Research Expertise and Interest
morphology, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, evolution of landscapes, geomorphic transport laws, landscape evolution modeling, high resolution laser altimetry, cosmogenic nuclide analysis

William Dietrich received his B.A. from Occidental College in 1972 and both his M.S. and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington, the first in 1975 and the second in 1982. He has received the Gordon Warwick Award, the Wiley Award for paper published in Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, and the Horton Award.

His research projects share a common theme: they seek mechanistic, quantitative understanding of the form and evolution of landscapes, linkages between ecological and geomorphic processes, and building tools to tackle pressing environmental problems. His approach uses field work, laboratory experiments, and numerical modeling to quantify and explore geomorphic processes. One result of these combined approaches has been the development of "geomorphic transport laws" that can be field-calibrated and used in both landscape evolution modeling and in practical applications. He has used high resolution laser altimetry to create detailed topographic maps and cosmogenic nuclide analysis to obtain estimates of rates of processes and to quantify transport laws. Numerical modeling work is underway to exploit both the high resolution topography and rate measurements to explore controls on landscape morphology.

In the News

April 30, 2014

Bottom-up model predicts depth to fresh bedrock under hillslopes

William Dietrich and graduate student Daniella Rempe have proposed a method to determine underground details without drilling, potentially providing a more precise way to predict water runoff, the moisture available to plants, landslides and how these will respond to climate change.

January 15, 2014

Eel River Observatory seeks clues to watershed’s future

University of California, Berkeley, scientists will receive $4,900,000 over the next five years to study the nearly 10,000 square kilometer Eel River watershed in Northern California and how its vegetation, geology and topography affect water flow all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

January 27, 2012

Remote sensing places nature at our fingertips

UC Berkeley geologist Bill Dietrich and biologist Todd Dawson are two of many UC scientists placing remote sensors in natural reserves to map land, track animals and collect environmental data.