Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Breanna Van

Department / group: Geographical & Earth Sciences
Google Scholar URL: N/A

Research interests:

Like many of the rivers in Scotland and all over the world, the River Nith has been channelized for centuries, which has resulted in a narrow channel susceptible to flooding during high rainfall events and degraded physical habitat diversity. In this area, embankment breaches have occurred frequently as a result of the original man-made embankment located up against the river channel. The Upper River Nith study area restoration Phase 1 and Phase 2 locations are located downstream of New Cumnock, Scotland. As part of the SEPA pilot catchment project, restoration construction has included embankment set-backs and two-stage channel design which will encourage more natural river processes that aim to lessen flood effects and increase physical habitat and ecological diversity. The aim of this project is to assess how the topography, sediment budget, and flood dynamics have changed from pre- to post-restoration, using different field and numerical modelling techniques.
UAV LiDAR, RTK-GPS, and single-beam SONAR will be used to collect topographic and bathymetric surveys of the river to quantify topography during the post-restoration phase of both Phase 1 and Phase 2. This data will be used to compare against pre-restoration survey data from both Phase 1 and Phase 2. I will model geomorphic change from pre- to post-restoration using DEM of difference maps to compare elevation changes over time to quantify patterns of deposition and erosion. The resulting sediment budget will be analyzed for uncertainty using Geomorphic Change Detection software. I will use the modelling program HEC-RAS to analyze the changes in flood inundation patterns at Phase 1 to Phase 2 from pre-restoration to post-restoration.

Career history:

I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado in Colorado, USA where I earned my bachelors degree in geology and graduated in May 2017. For the past 4.5 years, I have been working as an environmental consultant at Stantec as part of the hydrogeology team for the larger Mining Group. I am now pursuing a research-based MSc at the University of Glasgow in Earth Sciences.

Active research projects:

My MSc project will work to identify and assess changes associated with the post-restoration stage of two-stage channel design and embankment set-back restoration on the Upper Nith river near New Cumnock, Scotland.

Recent publications:


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