John M. Buffington
322 East Front Street, Suite 401
Contact John M. Buffington
Research Program: The geographic extent of the Rocky Mountain Research Station includes much of the western US. This landscape is geologically young and dynamic (steep terrain, prone to floods, wildfire, and debris flows), contains abundant resources (water, timber, minerals, recreation), and provides important habitat for many threatened and endangered fish (predominantly salmonids). Within this context, I conduct a broad range of geomorphic studies of watershed processes over multiple spatial and temporal scales, including (1) erosion and sediment transport, (2) genesis and evolution of channel morphology, (3) stream flow and channel hydraulics, (4) exchange of surface and subsurface water (hyporheic exchange), (5) physical and biological interactions in channel, riparian and hillslope environments, and (6) system response to natural and anthropogenic disturbance (e.g., floods, fire, climate change, dams, logging, mining). The overarching goal of this research is to address fundamental problems that have direct relevance for management, conservation, and restoration in mountain basins in the western US and abroad. Toward this end, a combination of field, laboratory, and numerical studies (computer models) are used to address basic and applied problems in collaboration with a diverse group of peers.
• Effects of climate change on channel morphology and salmonid habitat across different hydrologic regimes (snowmelt, rainfall, transitional) in northern basins (western US and Scotland)
• Geomorphic controls on salmonid habitat at watershed scales • Effects of post-fire debris flows on channel morphology and aquatic habitat
• Physical and biological controls on hyporheic exchange
• Formation of textural patches (grain-size facies) and their physical and biological significance
• Use of high-precision lasers for characterizing streambed topography: Predicting channel hydraulics, sediment transport, and aquatic habitat
• Effects of salmonid spawning activity on sediment transport, hyporheic exchange, and survival of offspring
• Methods for assessing and monitoring channel condition with regard to US & EU environmental laws
Briefing papers and additional resources:
•Climate Change and Spawning Habitat - Science Briefing
•Changes in Channel Morphology Over Human Time Scales - Science Briefing
•Geomorphic Classification of Rivers - Science Briefing
•2011 Workshop - Understanding and Adapting To Climate Change in Aquatic Ecosystems at Landscape and River Basin Scales: A Decision Support Workshop for Integrating Research and Management
•2009 Workshop - Linking Hydromorphology to Ecology
•Sediment Transport in Idaho and Nevada - Boise Adjudication Team
•Valley Confinement Algorithm
• Channel processes and classification
• Effects of riparian clearcutting on channel morphology
• Mechanistic studies of sediment transport thresholds (incipient motion)
• Equations for predicting bed load transport
• Effects of wood debris on channel morphology and aquatic habitat at reach and watershed scales
• Controls on the distribution of bedrock and alluvial channels
• Effects of salmonid spawning on bed stability and survival of offspring
• Controls on hyporheic exchange in pool-riffle channels
• Effects of timber harvest on streambed scour and survival of salmonids
• Controls on pool formation in coarse-grained channels
• Approaches for stream restoration
• Evaluating protocols for determining status and trend of channel morphology and associated aquatic habitat
• GIS approaches for predicting channel morphology, valley confinement, and aquatic habitat
• Potential effects of climate change on sediment yield
- University of Washington, Ph.D. Geological Sciences, "The use of streambed texture to interpret physical and biological conditions at watershed, reach, and subreach scales" 1998
- University of Washington, M.S. Geological Sciences, "Effects of hydraulic roughness and sediment supply on surface textures of gravel-bedded rivers" 1995
- University of California Berkeley, B.A. Geology and Geophysics 1988
- Research Geomorphologist, USFS, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, ID
2004 - Current
- Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Ecohydraulics Research Group, University of Idaho, Boise
2000 - 2004
- Postdoctoral Researcher, National Research Council, stationed at U.S. Geological Survey, National Research Program, Water Resources Division, Boulder, CO
1998 - 2000
- Research & Teaching Assistant (geomorphology), University of Washington, Dept. of Geological Sciences
1991 - 1998
- Field Assistant (geomorphology), King County Surface Water Management, Seattle, WA
1993 - 1993
- Hydrologist, USFS, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Juneau, AK
1989 - 1991
- Field Assistant (volcanology of western Mexico), University of California Berkeley, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics
1989 - 1990
- Research Assistant (geomorphology), University of California Berkeley, Dept. of Geology & Geophysics
1988 - 1988
- Hydrological Processes, Associate Editor (Editorial Board) (2015 - Current)
- Oregon State University, Affiliate Faculty (2013 - Current)
- Trinity River Restoration Program, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Science Advisory Board (2009 - Current)
- University of Idaho, Adjunct Faculty (2004 - Current)
- American Geophysical Union, Member (1991 - Current)
Associate Editor (2011-2013), Editor (2015-current), Journal of Geophysical Research–Earth Surface
- American Water Resources Association, Member (1998 - 2007)
- Geological Society of America, Member (1993 - 2007)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Member (2001 - 2004)
- American Fisheries Society, Member (2001 - 2004)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Member (2001 - 2004)
Awards & Recognition
- Named Lecture, 2010
Borland Lecturer in Hydraulics, Colorado State University
- Book Award, 2003
American Water Resources Association (Washington State chapter) Award for Outstanding Contribution to Washington's Water Resources. Presented to the authors of "Restoration of Puget Sound Rivers"
- Fellowship, 1997
David A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship (scholarly excellence), University of Washington
- Certificate of Merit, 1991
Research excellence, PNW Research Station, Juneau, AK
- Certificate of Appreciation, 1990
Research excellence, PNW Research Station, Juneau, AK
- Early Admission, 1984
Early admission to UC Berkeley (prior to completion of high school)
Featured Publications & Products
- Buffington, J. M.; Montgomery, D. R. 2013. Geomorphic classification of rivers.
- Goode, Jaime R.; Buffington, John M.; Tonina, Daniele; Isaak, Daniel J.; Thurow, Russell F.; Wenger, Seth; Nagel, David; Luce, Charlie; Tetzlaff, Doerthe; Soulsby, Chris. 2013. Potential effects of climate change on streambed scour and risks to salmonid survival in snow-dominated mountain basins.
- Maturana, Oscar; Tonina, Daniele; McKean, James A.; Buffington, John M.; Luce, Charles H.; Caamano, Diego. 2013. Modeling the effects of pulsed versus chronic sand inputs on salmonid spawning habitat in a low-gradient gravel-bed river.
- Buffington, John M. 2012. Changes in channel morphology over human time scales Chapter 32.
- Goode, Jaime R.; Luce, Charles H.; Buffington, John M. 2012. Enhanced sediment delivery in a changing climate in semi-arid mountain basins: Implications for water resource management and aquatic habitat in the northern Rocky Mountains.
- Beechie, Timothy J.; Sear, David A.; Olden, Julian D.; Pess, George R.; Buffington, John M.; Moir, Hamish; Roni, Philip; Pollock, Michael M. 2010. Process-based principles for restoring river ecosystems.
- Roper, Brett B.; Buffington, John M.; Bennett, Stephen; Lanigan, Steven H.; Archer, Eric; Downie, Scott T.; Faustini, John; Hillman, Tracy W.; Hubler, Shannon; Jones, Kim; Jordan, Chris; Kaufmann, Philip R.; Merritt, Glenn; Moyer, Chris; Pleus, Allen. 2010. A comparison of the performance and compatibility of protocols used by seven monitoring groups to measure stream habitat in the Pacific Northwest.
- Roper, Brett B.; Buffington, John M.; Archer, Eric; Moyer, Chris; Ward, Mike. 2008. The role of observer variation in determining Rosgen stream types in northeastern Oregon mountain streams.
- Buffington, John M.; Tonina, Daniele. 2009. Hyporheic exchange in mountain rivers II: Effects of channel morphology on mechanics, scales, and rates of exchange.
- Tonina, Daniele; Buffington, John M. 2009. A three-dimensional model for analyzing the effects of salmon redds on hyporheic exchange and egg pocket habitat.
- Jacobs, Gregory R.; Thurow, Russell F.; Buffington, John M.; Isaak, Dan ; Wenger, Seth J. 2020. Climate, fire regime, geomorphology, and conspecifics influence the spatial distribution of chinook salmon redds.
- Malesky, Danielle M.; Bentz, Barbara J.; Brown, Gary R.; Brunelle, Andrea R.; Buffington, John M.; Chappell, Linda M.; DeRose, R. Justin; Guyon, John C., II.; Jorgensen, Carl L.; Loehman, Rachel A.; Lowrey, Laura L.; Lynch, Ann M.; Matyjasik, Marek; McMillin, Joel D.; Mercado, Javier E.; Morris, Jesse L.; Negron, Jose F.; Padgett, Wayne G.; Progar, Robert A.; Randall, Carol B. 2018. Effects of climate change on ecological disturbances Chapter 8.
- Penaluna, Brooke E.; Reeves, Gordon H.; Barnett, Zanethia ; Bisson, Peter A.; Buffington, John M.; Dolloff, Andy ; Flitcroft, Rebecca ; Luce, Charles H.; Nislow, Keith ; Rothlisberger, John ; Warren, Mel. . 2018. Using natural disturbance and portfolio concepts to guide aquatic-riparian ecosystem management.
- Bisson, Peter A.; Montgomery, David R.; Buffington, John M. 2017. Valley segments, stream reaches, and channel units Chapter 2.
- Thurow, Russ; Buffington, John M. 2016. Wild salmon response to natural disturbance processes.
- Lisle, Thomas E.; Buffington, John M.; Wilcock, Peter R.; Bunte, Kristin. 2015. Can rapid assessment protocols be used to judge sediment impairment in gravel-bed streams A commentary.
- Nagel, David E.; Buffington, John M.; Parkes, Sharon L.; Wenger, Seth; Goode, Jaime R. 2014. A landscape scale valley confinement algorithm: Delineating unconfined valley bottoms for geomorphic, aquatic, and riparian applications.
- Tonina, Daniele; Buffington, John M. 2011. Effects of stream discharge, alluvial depth and bar amplitude on hyporheic flow in pool-riffle channels.
- Rosenberger, Amanda E.; Dunham, Jason B.; Buffington, John M.; Wipfli, Mark S. 2011. Persistent effects of wildfire and debris flows on the invertebrate prey base of rainbow trout in Idaho streams.
- Caamano, D.; Goodwin, P.; Buffington, J. M. 2010. Flow structure through pool-riffle sequences and a conceptual model for their sustainability in gravel-bed rivers.
- Moir, Hamish J.; Gibbins, Christopher N.; Buffington, John M.; Webb, John H.; Soulsby, Chris; Brewer, Mark J. 2009. A new method to identify the fluvial regimes used by spawning salmonids.
- Burke, Michael; Jorde, Klaus; Buffington, John M. 2009. Application of a hierarchical framework for assessing environmental impacts of dam operation: changes in hydrology, channel hydraulics, bed mobility and recruitment of riparian trees in a western North American river.
- Tonina, Daniele; Buffington, John M. 2009. Hyporheic exchange in mountain rivers I: Mechanics and environmental effects.
- Buffington, John M.; Roper, Brett B.; Archer, Eric; Moyer, Chris. 2009. Reply to discussion by David L. Rosgen: The role of observer variation in determining Rosgen stream types in northeastern Oregon mountain streams.
- Caamano, Diego; Goodwin, Peter; Buffington, John M.; Liou, Jim C. P.; Daley-Laursen, Stanley. 2009. Unifying criterion for the velocity reversal hypothesis in gravel-bed rivers.
- Faux, Russell N.; Buffington, John M.; Whitley, M. German; Lanigan, Steve H.; Roper, Brett B. 2009. Use of airborne near-infrared LiDAR for determining channel cross-section characteristics and monitoring aquatic habitat in Pacific Northwest rivers: A preliminary analysis Chapter 6.
- Buffington, John M.; Tonina, Daniele. 2008. Discussion of "Evaluating vertical velocities between the stream and the hyporheic zone from temperature data" by Seydell, I., Wawra, B.E., and Zanke, U.C.E. Chapter 5 ..
- Tonina, Daniele; Luce, Charles H.; Rieman, Bruce; Buffington, John M.; Goodwin, Peter; Clayton, Stephen R.; Ali, Shawkat Md.; Barry, Jeffrey J.; Berenbrock, Charles. 2008. Hydrological response to timber harvest in northern Idaho: Implications for channel scour and persistence of salmonids.
- Barry, Jeffrey J.; Buffington, John M.; Goodwin, Peter; King, John .G.; Emmett, William W. 2008. Performance of bed-load transport equations relative to geomorphic significance: Predicting effective discharge and its transport rate.
- Barry, Jeffrey J.; Buffington, John M.; King, John G. 2007. Correction to "A general power equation for predicting bed load transport rates in gravel bed rivers".
- Tonina, Daniele; Buffington, John M. 2007. Hyporheic exchange in gravel bed rivers with pool-riffle morphology: Laboratory experiments and three-dimensional modeling.
- Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R.; Greenberg, Harvey M. 2006. Erratum: Basin-scale availability of salmonid spawning gravel as influenced by channel type and hydraulic roughness in mountain catchments.
- Barry, Jeffrey J.; Buffington, John M.; King, John G.; Goodwin, Peter. 2006. Performance of bed load transport equations in mountain gravel-bed rivers: A re-analysis.
- Burke, Michael; Jorde, Klaus; Buffington, John M.; Braatne, Jeffrey H.; Benjakar, Rohan. 2006. Spatial distribution of impacts to channel bed mobility due to flow regulation, Kootenai River, USA.
- Barry, Jeffrey J.; Buffington, John M.; King, John G. 2005. Reply to comment by Claude Michel on "A general power equation for predicting bed load transport rates in gravel bed rivers".
- Barry, Jeffrey J.; Buffington, John M.; King, John G. 2004. A general power equation for predicting bed load transport rates in gravel bed rivers.
- Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R.; Greenberg, Harvey M. 2004. Basin-scale availability of salmonid spawning gravel as influenced by channel type and hydraulic roughness in mountain catchments.
- Buffington, John M.; Woodsmith, Richard D.; Booth, Derek B.; Montgomery, David R. 2003. Fluvial processes in Puget Sound rivers and the Pacific Northwest Chapter 3.
- Buffington, John M.; Lisle, Thomas E.; Woodsmith, Richard D.; Hilton, Sue. 2002. Controls on the size and occurrence of pools in coarse-grained forest rivers.
- Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R. 1999. A procedure for classifying textural facies in gravel-bed rivers.
- Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R. 1999. Effects of hydraulic roughness on surface textures of gravel-bed rivers.
- Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R. 1999. Effects of sediment supply on surface textures of gravel-bed rivers.
- Buffington, John M.; Montgomery, David R. 1997. A systematic analysis of eight decades of incipient motion studies, with special reference to gravel-bedded rivers.
- Wood-Smith, Richard. D.; Buffington, John M. 1996. Multivariate geomorphic analysis of forest streams: Implications for assessment of land use impacts on channel condition.
- Montgomery, David R.; Buffington, John M.; Smith, Richard D.; Schmidt, Kevin M.; Pess, George. 1995. Pool spacing in forest channels.
- Buffington, John M.; Dietrich, William E.; Kirchner, James W. 1992. Friction angle measurements on a naturally formed gravel streambed: Implications for critical boundary shear stress.