Scottish Alliance for Geoscience, Environment and Society

Dr. Mikaël Attal

Research interests:

Within the Global Change research group, I am part of the Land Surface Dynamics research group. I combine the analysis of real landscapes (collection of field data, topographic analysis) with numerical modelling and experimental studies to constrain the relationships between tectonics, erosion and the development of topography. My current research focuses on understanding the coupling between hillslopes and rivers, characterizing and quantifying fluvial erosion and transport processes in mountain rivers and defining the role that sediments play in modulating fluvial erosion rates. My work can help extracting tectonic information from topography, with implication for assessing seismic and landslide hazard. Understanding sediment dynamics can also help retrieving past tectonic and climatic signals in the geological archive (stratigraphy) as well as mitigating flooding risk in sedimentary basins where in-channel sediment aggradation can result in increased flooding and avulsion risk. I am particularly interested in the sedimentary response of Himalayan rivers to the recent Nepal 2015 earthquakes, which is likely to cause a significant increase in flooding risk in the Ganga Plain (home of around one billion inhabitants) in the years to come.

Career history:

Since 2007: Lecturer in Landscape Dynamics, Univ. of Edinburgh – School of GeoSciences, Edinburgh, UK.

2005-2007: Postdoctoral Research fellow, University of Edinburgh – School of GeoSciences, Edinburgh, UK.

2003-2004: Teaching assistant, Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie – Centre de Recherches,Pétrographiques et Géochimiques, Nancy, France.

2002-2003: Teaching assistant, Université J. Fourier – Laboratoire de Géodynamique desChaînes Alpines, Grenoble, France.

1999-2003: PhD in Geomorphology, Université J. Fourier – Laboratoire de Géodynamique des Chaînes Alpines, Grenoble, France.

Active research projects:

Recent research activities by the Land Surface Dynamics group:

Recent publications:

Baynes, E.R.C., Attal, M., Dugmore, A.J., Kirstein, L.A., and Whaler, K.A. (2015) Catastrophic impact of extreme flood events on the morphology and evolution of the lower Jökulsá á Fjöllum (northeast Iceland) during the Holocene. Geomorphology, 250, 422-436,

Whitbread, K., Jansen, J., Bishop, P., and Attal, M. (2015) Substrate, sediment, and slope controls on bedrock channel geometry in postglacial streams. Journal of Geophysical Research, 120, doi:10.1002/2014JF003295.

Attal, M., Mudd, S.M., Hurst, M.D., Weinman, B., Yoo, K., and Naylor. M. (2015) Impact of change in erosion rate and landscape steepness on hillslope and fluvial sediments grain size in the Feather River Basin (Sierra Nevada, California). Earth Surface Dynamics, 3, 201-222, doi:10.5194/esurf-3-201-2015.

Baynes, E.R.C., Attal, M., Niedermann, S., Kirstein, L.A., Dugmore, A.J., and Naylor, M. (2015) Erosion during extreme flood events dominates Holocene canyon evolution in North-East Iceland. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 8, 2355-2360, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1415443112.

Mudd, S.M., Attal, M., Milodowski, D.T., Grieve, S.W.D., and Valters, D.A. (2014) A statistical framework to quantify spatial variation in channel gradients using the integral method of channel profile analysis. Journal of Geophysical Research, 119, 1–15, doi:10.1002/2013JF002981.

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