Accessible Navigation. Go to: Navigation Main Content Footer

Faculty Image Phairot Chatanantavet
Office: SC 355
Phone: (406) 243-5920



I am interested in the processes that shape the Earth's surface occurring over various spatial and temporal scales. I mostly focus on fluvial systems or rivers, which are part of the landscape and affected by other physical, chemical, and biological processes. I use many methodologies including theoretical analysis, numerical modeling, physical experiments, and field work.

Field Of Study:

  • -   River morphodynamics
  • -   Climate change impacts on rivers and ecosystems
  • -   Sediment transport
  • -   Environmental/Geophysical fluid dynamics
  • -   Geomorphology/Earth surface processes
  • -   Stream restoration

Research Interests:

Linked Modeling Approach to Assess Climate Change Effects on River Morphodynamics and Aquatic Ecosystems in Mountain Watersheds

Climate change holds the potential to alter regional patterns and extents of precipitation, runoff, snowmelt contribution, sediment flux, river morphology, and aquatic ecosystems. The feedback between ecologic, hydrologic, geomorphologic and climatic processes is recognized as critical to understanding vulnerability to global change, yet only a few studies have attempted to link climate change with aquatic ecosystem transformations at the watershed scale. Such studies have largely focused on potential changes in flow regimes and water temperatures, without explicitly evaluating climate change effects on sediment supply and river morphodynamics, as well as associated ecosystem effects. To a large extent, the limited number of studies addressing these issues is due to the complex interdisciplinary nature of the problem and the lack of appropriate models able to describe these feedbacks.  We propose a linked modeling approach to provide insight into the watershed-to-reach scale impacts of climate change on aquatic habitats, whereby we downscale global climate models to the regional scale using a regional climate model, use the regional climate information to force a suite of ecohydrologic models, and in turn derive input conditions from these simulations to drive a river morphodynamic model. This telescopic approach permits an evaluation of the impacts of predicted changes in global climate on aquatic ecosystems, at a scale relevant to watershed management, and to address questions such as (1) how will climate change affect disturbances and associated material fluxes in watersheds at multiple scales?; (2) what portions of the channel network are likely to be destabilized by or resilient to changes in these material fluxes?; and (3) how will river morphology evolve as a result of climate change, and how would that affect biota?  We implement and demonstrate our linked modeling approach for the northern Rockies of western Montana, USA


  • -   University of Montana, Postdoc Scholar, May 2013 - Present: Advisors Dr. Andrew Wilcox and Dr. Marco Maneta
  • -   California Institute of Technology, Postdoc Scholar, Oct 2010 - May 2013: Advisor Dr. Michael Lamb
  • -   Arizona State University - Tempe, Postdoc Associate, Feb 2009 - Sep 2010: Advisor Dr. Kelin X. Whipple
  • -   University of Minnesota - Minneapolis, Ph.D., 2003-2007: Advisor Dr. Gary Parker
  • -   University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, visiting Ph.D. student, 2006-2007: Advisor Dr. Gary Parker
  • -   University of Cambridge, U.K., Certificate in Geophysical and Envir Fluid Dynamics, summer 2006
  • -   Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, M.Eng. (Water Resources), 1999-2001
  • -   Chiangmai University, Thailand, B.Eng. (Civil Engineering), 1995-1999

Professional Experience:

  • -   Geomorphologist/Hydraulic Engineer (full time), Philip Williams and Associates, Ltd., San Francisco, California, USA, Nov 2007-Feb 2009
  • -   Research Assistant (50% time), National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED), St Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL), University of Minnesota, USA, Aug 2003-Nov 2007
  • -   Research Associate (full time), Water Resources, Civil Engineering, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, April 2001-June 2003

Selected Publications:

  1. 1.      Chatanantavet P., K. X. Whipple, M. Adams, and M. P. Lamb (2013), Experimental study on coarse grain saltation dynamics in bedrock channels, J. of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 118, doi:10.1002/jgrf.20053.
  2. 2.      Chatanantavet P., Lamb M.P., and Nittrouer J.A. (2012), Backwater controls of avulsion location on deltas, Geophysical Research Letters, 39, L01402, doi:10.1029/2011GL050197
  3. 3.      Chatanantavet P. and Parker G. (2011), Quantitative testing of model of bedrock channel incision by plucking and macroabrasion, J. of Hydraulic Engineering, 137, 11, DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0000421
  4. 4.      Chatanantavet P., Lajeunesse E., Parker G., Malverti L., and Meunier P. (2010), A physically-based model of downstream fining in bedrock streams with lateral input, Water Resources Research, 46, W02518, doi:10.1029/2008WR007208.
  5. 5.      Chatanantavet P. and Parker G. (2009), Physically-based modeling of bedrock incision by abrasion, plucking, and macroabrasion, J. of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, 114, F04018, doi:10.1029/2008JF001044
  6. 6.      Chatanantavet P. and Parker G. (2008), Experimental study of bedrock channel alluviation under varied sediment supply and hydraulic conditions, Water Resources Research, 44, W12446, doi:10.1029/2007WR006581
  7. 7.      Chatanantavet P. and Parker, G. (2005), Modeling the bedrock river evolution of western Kaua’i, Hawai’i, by a physically-based incision model based on abrasion, River, Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics, Taylor and Francis, London, 99-110.

Other Publications:

In-review and in-prep papers

  1. 1.    Chatanantavet P. and Lamb M.P., during minor revision, Sediment transport and topographic evolution of a coupled river and river-plume system: An experimental and numerical study, J. of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface
  2. 2.    Chatanantavet P., Whipple K. X., and Adams M. A., in prep, Experimental Study of Bedrock Incision Processes by Bedload Abrasions and Modifications of the Saltation-Abrasion Model: Part I, Controls by Hydraulic Conditions and Bed Roughness, J. of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface
  3. 3.    Chatanantavet P., Whipple K. X., and Adams M. A., in prep, Experimental Study of Bedrock Incision Processes by Bedload Abrasions and Modifications of the Saltation-Abrasion Model: Part II, Controls by Grain Sizes, Bedrock Strength, and Immobile Boulders, J. of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface
  4. 4.    Chatanantavet P., Whipple K. X., Adams M. A., and Lamb M. P., in prep, Experimental Study of Bedrock Incision Processes by Suspended-load Abrasions