University of Colorado at Boulder

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Faculty | Associate Chair, Graduate Studies

John Pitlick

Geomorphology; Water Resources; Natural Hazards

Professor of Geography 

Physical Geography
Faculty of Hydrologic Sciences
303-492-5906 Gugg 315  
Ph.D. Colorado State University, 1988

Research Interests

My research focuses on linkages between surface-water hydrology and geomorphology in high-gradient river systems. The primary objective of this work is to develop a more complete understanding of the coupling between rivers and their surrounding landscapes. Field work is an important component of my research; the strategy used in many projects is to integrate field data with modeling techniques to quantify the effects of sediment transport on the natural functioning of river systems, often at spatial scales >100 km. Several past projects, done in collaboration with aquatic ecologists, have focused on the role of fluvial-hydraulic processes in modifying habitats for fish and benthic organisms. I have worked extensively in Colorado, and also in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rocky Mountains. I am also the co-director of the Graduate Program in Hydrologic Sciences at CU-Boulder.

Selected Publications

Segura C., J. H. McCutchan, W. M. Lewis, and J. Pitlick. (2011). The influence of channel bed disturbance on algae biomass in a Colorado mountain stream. Ecohydrology, v. 4, p. 411-421. doi:10.1002/eco.142

Segura, C. and J. Pitlick. (2010). Scaling frequency of channel-forming flows in snowmelt-dominated streams. Scaling frequency of channel-forming flows in snowmelt-dominated streams. doi:10.1029/2009WR008336

Pitlick, J., Y. Cui, and P. R. Wilcock. (2009). Manual for computing bed load transport using BAGS (Bedload Assessment for Gravel-bed Streams). Software, Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-223, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO, 45 pp.

Rosenberry, D. and J. Pitlick. (2009). Local-scale variability of seepage and hydraulic conductivity in a shallow gravel-bed river. Hydrological Processes, v. 23, p. 3306-3318. doi:10.1002/hyp.7433

Wilcock, P.R., J. Pitlick, and Y. Cui. (2009). Sediment transport primer: estimating bed-material transport in gravel-bed rivers. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-226, USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO, 78 pp.

Publications updated November 2011

Recent Courses Include

Spring 2014  GEOG 3511 (4) Introduction to Hydrology

Spring 2014  GEOG 4251/5251 (3) Fluvial Geomorphology

Fall 2013  GEOG 5241-002 (3) Topics in Physical Geog: Surface Water Hydrology

Graduate Students

M.A. Alumni
Sediment Fluxes in a Changing Climate: Tahoma Creek Over Daily to Centennial Time-Scales
M.A. Alumni
Fine Grain Sediment Transport over a Course Grain Gravel Bed
Ph.D. Alumni
Landscape Controls on Sediment Supply and Stream Channel Morpho-Dynamics in the Northern Rocky Mountains