Carl J Legleiter, Ph.D.

As a member of the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Laboratory, Dr. Legleiter conducts research on remote sensing of rivers, specifically retreival of depth, velocity, and other channel attributes from various types of image data.  Current studies focus on estimating tracer dye concentrations on the Missouri River and flow depths and velocities on several rivers in Alaska.


Dr. Legleiter joined the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Laboratory in January 2016. Before coming to the Survey,  Legleiter was employed as an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Wyoming.  He earned a doctoral degree from the University of California Santa Barbara, graduating in 2009.

Dr. Legleiter's research focuses on the application of remote sensing to rivers, specifically hyperspectral imaging of sand- and gravel-bed channels. His interests also encompass fluvial geomorphology and sediment transport as he seeks to understand the mechanisms by which the movement of water and sediment direct the morphologic evolution of rivers.  For this reason, Legleiter conducts studies of channel change, for which remote sensing has proven to be a powerful tool. Current work is focused on developing new methods of measuring river discharge and estimating tracer dye concentrations via remote sensing.

Remote sensing has emerged as a powerful tool for characterizing river systems across a broad range of scales and with far greater efficiency than conventional field methods.  Dr. Legleiter's research at the USGS Geomorphology and Sediment Transport Laboratory (GSTL) focuses on developing innovative techniques for inferring various channel attributes from remotely sensed data.  For example, previous studies have established methods for retrieving information on water depth from hyperspectral images and/or bathymetric (green) LiDAR.  In collaboration with colleagues at the GSTL, Legleiter is now working to develop innovative approaches for remote sensing of river discharge using a combination of depth retrieval from passive optical image data and water surface velocity estimation from thermal and optical videography.  Another collaborative project with the USGS Ecosystems Mission Area involves estimating tracer dye concentrations from passive optical image data to facilitate dispersion studies.