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.