Sandra E. Ryan-Burkett
240 West Prospect Road
Contact Sandra E. Ryan-Burkett
- Monitoring the Effects of the High Park Fire - Science Briefing
- Wildfire Impacts on Stream Sedimentation - Science Briefing
- The impacts of wildfire on runoff, sedimentation, large wood dynamics and channel morphology
- Geomorphic impacts of large-scale forest loss (blowdown, beetle-kill, salvage logging, wildfire)
- Baseline channel processes in steep mountain streams
- Road-related gully erosion
- Effects of newly delivered large wood from several types of forest disturbances on channel erosion and instability in headwater channels
- Testing the feasibility of an acoustic sampler for detecting gravel movement in coarse-grained channel
My primary research interests are on the geomorphology and sedimentation processes in steep mountain streams. Within this broad field I am interested in the influence of streamflow and sediment supply on sediment transport rates, channel processes, and variation in channel morphology. I work mainly in the subalpine environments of Colorado and Wyoming where streamflow is generated primarily by snowmelt.
- Characterizing and modeling bedload transport processes in coarse-grained stream channels
- Refinement and verification of bedload measurement techniques
- Assessing methods for measuring bedload, including comparing data collected with different types of samplers and the use of an underwater camera for monitoring bedload movement
- Testing the feasibility of an acoustic sampler for detecting gravel movement in coarse-grained channels
- Impacts of flow diversion on channel form and process
Why This Research is Important
Sediment production from headwater streams is a major control on downstream water quality, river processes, and aquatic habitat. Increased sedimentation is a concern due to its predicted sensitivity to environmental change. Past and on-going research on the relationships between forest loss, stream sediment loads and channel morphology shows that riverine landscapes can have inherently different sediment signals and responses following disturbance, depending on the nature of sedimentation and mass wasting processes and the relative sensitivity of watershed. In light of the current suite of beetle epidemics and their expected impacts on existing forest infrastructures, land managers are implementing streamside fuels reduction prescriptions to reduce hazards posed by dead timber along miles of riparian areas and perennial fish-bearing streams. Current and proposed research will help in developing guidelines for this activity.
Outcomes of the current research effort are improved understanding of the contribution of forest loss on erosion processes, the connectivity of streams to their sediment sources, and the ability of streams to recover from increased sediment loads following forest disturbances. Currently identifying funding opportunities to work with land managers in further defining the influence of various environmental changes on channel form and processes, including the influence of large wood on riverine characteristics.
- State University of New York, Plattsburgh, B.A. Geography/ Environmental Studies 1983
- Oregon State University, M.A. Physical Geography 1989
- University of Colorado, Ph.D. Geography 1994
- Research Hydrologist/Geomorphologist, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
1994 - Current
- Graduate Research Assistant, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)
1990 - 1994
- Land Surveying Technician, National Park Service, Denver Service Center
1984 - 1985
Featured Publications & Products
- Ryan, Sandra E.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Dixon, Mark K. 2011. Impacts Of Wildfire On Runoff And Sediment Loads At Little Granite Creek, Western Wyoming.
- Wohl, Ellen; Cenderelli, Daniel A.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Ryan-Burkett, Sandra E.; Young, Michael K.; Fausch, Kurt D. 2010. Large In-Stream Wood Studies: A Call For Common Metrics.
- Ryan, Sandra E.; Bishop, Erica L.; Daniels, J. Michael. 2014. Influence Of Large Wood On Channel Morphology And Sediment Storage In Headwater Mountain Streams, Fraser Experimental Forest, Colorado.
- Hines, Sarah; Brenkert-Smith, Hannah; Champ, Patty; Joyce, Linda; Robichaud, Pete; Ryan-Burkett, Sandra. 2014. Science You Can Use Bulletin: Our Relationship With A Dynamic Landscape: Understanding The 2013 Northern Colorado Flood.
- Katz, Harry Alexander; Daniels, J. Michael; Ryan-Burkett, Sandra. 2014. Slope-Area Thresholds Of Road-Induced Gully Erosion And Consequent Hillslope-Channel Interactions.
- Meyer, Kristen E.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Champ, Patricia A.; Ryan, Sandra E.; Riegel, Gregg M.; Burton, Timothy A. 2012. Burning Questions For Managers: Fuels Management Practices In Riparian Areas.
- Ryan, Sandra; Dwire, Kathleen. 2012. Wildfire Impacts On Stream Sedimentation: Re-Visiting The Boulder Creek Burn In Little Granite Creek, Wyoming, Usa.
- Ryan, Sandra E.; Porth, Laurie S.; Troendle, C. A. 2002. Defining Phases Of Bedload Transport Using Piecewise Regression.