Paul Grams

Biography

Paul Grams received a BA in Geology from Middlebury College (1991), an M.S. in Geology from Utah State University (1997), and a Ph.D. in Geography and Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University (2006). For an undergraduate thesis, Paul examined the effects of Hells Canyon Dam on the hydrology and downstream physical resources of the Snake River, in Idaho. Since that time he has studied the interaction between human-induced changes in hydrology and channel form on many segments of the Green River in Utah and Colorado, small streams in northern Utah and southern Idaho, and the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Paul’s current research interests are in fluvial geomorphology, sediment transport, the downstream effects of dams and diversions, and the connections between physical processes and ecological systems on large rivers. Paul is currently a research hydrologist at theGrand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center and manages several projects related to geomorphology, sediment budgets, and the effects of controlled floods on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and in other parts of the Colorado River Basin.

Geomorphology at Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center

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Current Research Projects

1.      Long-term monitoring of sediment storage in the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

The purpose of this project is to monitor sediment storage on the bed and banks of the Colorado River for the 285-mile segment of the river between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead. Because of the spatial scale and geomorphic complexity, this is a unique effort in river monitoring that requires integration and analysis of multiple data sources, which include multibeam sonar, singlebeam sonar, conventional survey, aerial photography, and LIDAR. The goal of this work is to improve scientific understanding of the linkages between river sediment budgets and changes in river channel morphology. This work is of relevance to river managers and stakeholders who seek to understand and manage fish habitat, river bed composition and dynamics as they relate to primary productivity, riparian environments, and river-related recreation resources. Current collaborators on this research include Daniel Buscombe, Robert Tusso, and David Topping (USGS GCMRC); and Matt Kaplinski and Joe Hazel (Northern Arizona University); and .

2.      Sandbar dynamics on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

This project is responsible for long-term and event-based monitoring of sandbars on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. The project utilizes conventional surveys to monitor sandbars annually and remote deployment of digital cameras to monitor sandbars daily. This project is notable among river geomorphic monitoring efforts in its longevity and regularity of measurement – we have surpassed two decades of approximately annual measurements.  This project provides essential information to river managers and stakeholders who use the results to evaluate the effectiveness of actions, such as controlled floods, in restoring sandbars. The project also provides insights on river behavior that can only come from long-term observations. Current collaborators on this research include Erich Mueller, Daniel Buscombe, and Robert Ross (USGS GCMRC); Joe Hazel, Matt Kaplinski, Rod Parnell, and Michael Smith (Northern Arizona University); and Joe Wheaton (Utah State University).

3.      Streamflow and sediment-transport modeling in the Colorado River

The purpose of this project is to support the development and use of numerical models for streamflow and sediment transport in the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. The purpose of these models is to provide managers with tools they may use to predict how management actions affect sediment resources in Grand Canyon. These models have been used by the Dept. of Interior to plan high-flow experiments and design annual plans for dam operations. Collaborators on this research project include Erich Mueller and David Topping (USGS GCMRC), Scott Wright (USGS California Water Science Center), Mark Schmeeckle and Jonathon Nelson (USGS National Research Program), David Rubin (University of California Santa Cruz), and Peter Wilcock (Utah State University).

4.      The Effects of Controlled Floods on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument

The project evaluated the effects of high flow releases that occurred in 2011 on channel morphology and riparian vegetation on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. Collaborators include Erich Mueller (USGS GCMRC) and Jack Schmidt (Utah State University).

4.      Geomorphic Resonse to the 2014 Pulse Flow in the Colorado River Delta

The purpose of this project is to document the streamflow, sediment transport conditions, and geomorphic response of the spring 2014 pulse flow on the lower Colorado River released as part of Minute 319 of the United States-Mexico Treaty. The pulse flow was released to provide environmental benefits to the normally dry riparian corridor and reporting on the effects of the release is a Department of Interior priority. Collaborators include Erich Mueller and David Topping (USGS GCMRC); Patric Shafroth (USGS Fort Collins); and Jack Schmidt (Utah State University).

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Publications

Grams, P. E., J. C. Schmidt, S. A. Wright, D. J. Topping, T. S. Melis, and D. M. Rubin (2015), Building Sandbars in the Grand Canyon, EOS, Trans. Am. Geophys. Union, 96(11), 12–16. [Link]

Grams P. E., D. J. Topping, J. C. Schmidt, J. E. Hazel Jr., and M. Kaplinski (2013), Linking morphodynamic response with sediment mass balance on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon: Issues of scale, geomorphic setting, and sampling design, J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf., 118, 361–381, doi:10.1002/jgrf.20050. [Link]

Ross, R., and Grams, P.E., 2013, Nearshore thermal gradients of the Colorado River near the Little Colorado River confluence, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1013, 65 p. [Link]

Grams, P.E., 2013, A sand budget for Marble Canyon, Arizona—Implications for long-term monitoring of sand storage change: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3074, 4 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2013/3074/. [Link]

Full List of Publications (updated January 2016):

Grams, P. E., J. C. Schmidt, S. A. Wright, D. J. Topping, T. S. Melis, and D. M. Rubin (2015), Building Sandbars in the Grand Canyon, EOS, Trans. Am. Geophys. Union, 96(11), 12–16. https://eos.org/features/building-sandbars-in-the-grand-canyo

Buscombe, D., P. E. Grams, and S. M. C. Smith (2015), Automated Riverbed Sediment Classification Using Low-Cost Sidescan Sonar, J. Hydraul. Eng., 06015019, doi:10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0001079.

Sankey, J.B., Ralston, B.E., Grams, P.E., Schmidt, J.C., and Cagney, L.E., 2015, Riparian vegetation, Colorado River, and climate--Five decades of spatiotemporal dynamics in the Grand Canyon with river regulation: Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences, online , doi:10.1002/2015JG002991.

Buscombe, D., P. E. Grams, M. A. Kaplinski, R. Tusso, and D. M. Rubin (2015), Hydroacoustic signatures of Colorado riverbed sediments in Marble and Grand Canyons using multibeam sonar, in Proceedings of the 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, pp. 1066–1077, Reno, Nev.

Buscombe, D., P. E. Grams, T. S. Melis, and S. M. C. Smith (2015), Large river bed sediment characterization with low-cost sidescan sonar: Case studies from two settings in the Colorado (Arizona) and Penobscot (Maine) Rivers, in Proceedings of the 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, pp. 1273–1277, Reno, Nev.

Grams, P. E., D. Buscombe, D. J. Topping, J. E. J. Hazel, and M. Kaplinski (2015), Use of flux and morphologic sediment budgets for sandbar monitoring on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon, Arizona, in Proceedings of the 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, pp. 1144–1155, Reno, Nev.

Mueller, E. R., J. C. Schmidt, D. J. Topping, and P. E. Grams (2015), Geomorphic change in the limitrophe reach of the Colorado River in response to the 2014 delta pulse flow, United States and Mexico, in Proceedings of the 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, pp. 1501–1512, Reno, Nev.

Ross, R. P., and P. E. Grams (2015), Long-term monitoring of sandbars on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon using remote sensing, in Proceedings of the 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, pp. 86–96, Reno, Nev.

Tusso, R. B., D. Buscombe, and P. E. Grams (2015), Using oblique digital photography for alluvial sandbar monitoring and low-cost change detection, in Proceedings of the 5th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 10th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference, pp. 79–85, Reno, Nev.

Mueller, E. R., P. E. Grams, J. C. Schmidt, J. Hazel, Joseph E., M. Kaplinski, J. A. Alexander, and K. Kohl (2014), Monitoring and Research to Describe Geomorphic Effects of the 2011 Controlled Flood on the Green River in the Canyon of Lodore , Dinosaur National Monument , Colorado and Utah, U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5022.

Buscombe, D., P. E. Grams, and M. A. Kaplinski (2014), Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, Characterizing riverbed sediment using high-frequency acoustics: 1. Spectral properties of scattering, 119, 2674–2691, doi:10.1002/2014JF003189.

Buscombe, D., P. E. Grams, and M. A. Kaplinski (2014), Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface Characterizing riverbed sediment using high-frequency acoustics: 2. Scattering signatures of Colorado River bed sediment in Marble and Grand Canyons, 119, 2692–2710, doi:10.1002/2014JF003191.In.

Mueller, E. R., P. E. Grams, J. C. Schmidt, J. E. Hazel, J. S. Alexander, and M. Kaplinski (2014), The influence of controlled floods on fine sediment storage in debris fan-affected canyons of the Colorado River basin,Geomorphology226, 65–75, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.07.029.

Grams, P. E., and P. R. Wilcock, 2013, Transport of fine sediment over a coarse, immobile river bed, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 2013JF002925.

Grams P. E., D. J. Topping, J. C. Schmidt, J. E. Hazel Jr., and M. Kaplinski, 2013, Linking morphodynamic response with sediment mass balance on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon: Issues of scale, geomorphic setting, and sampling design, J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf., 118, 361–381, doi:10.1002/jgrf.20050. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jgrf.20050/full

Grams P. E., 2013, A sand budget for Marble Canyon, Arizona--implications for long-term monitoring of sand storage change, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2013–3074, 4 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2013/3074/.

Kennedy, T. A., Yackulic, C. B., Cross, W. F., Grams, P. E., Yard, M. D. and Copp, A. J., 2013, The relation between invertebrate drift and two primary controls, discharge and benthic densities, in a large regulated river. Freshwater Biology. doi: 10.1111/fwb.12285

Ross, R., and Grams, P.E., 2013, Nearshore thermal gradients of the Colorado River near the Little Colorado River confluence, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1013, 65 p. (Available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2013/1013/.)

Schmidt, J.C. and Grams, P.E., 2011, Chapter 2: Understanding Physical Processes of the Colorado River in Melis, T. S., ed., 2011, Effects of three high-flow experiments on the Colorado River ecosystem downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1366, 147 p.

Schmidt, J.C. and Grams, P.E., 2011, Chapter 3: The High Flows—Physical Science Results in Melis, T. S., ed., 2011, Effects of three high-flow experiments on the Colorado River ecosystem downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1366, 147 p.

Melis, T.S.,  Grams, P.E., Kennedy, T.A., Ralston, B.E., Robinson, C.T., Schmidt, J.C., Schmit, L.M., Valdez, R.A., and Wright, S.A., 2011, Three experimental  high-flow releases from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona—Effects on the downstream Colorado River ecosystem: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3012, 4 p.

Grams, P.E., Hazel, J.E., Schmidt, J.C., Kaplinski, M., Wright, S.A., Topping, D.J., and Melis, T.S., 2010, Geomorphic response of sandbars to the March 2008 high-flow experiment on the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, in Hydrology and sedimentation for a changing future; existing and emerging issues (Joint Federal Interagency Conference 2010--Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling, 4th, and Federal Interagency Sedimentation, 9th), Las Vegas, Nev., June 27- July 1, Proceedings: v. ISBN: 978-0-9779007-3-2, CD-ROM.

Grams, P.E., Schmidt, J.C., and Andersen, M.E., 2010, 2008 High-flow experiment at Glen Canyon Dam--morphologic response of eddy-deposited sandbars and associated aquatic backwater habitats along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1032, 73 p., accessed on July 27, 2010, at http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1032/.

Grams, P.E., Schmidt, J.C., and Topping D.J., 2010, Bed incision and channel adjustment of the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area downstream from Glen Canyon Dam , in Melis, T.S., Hamill, J.F., Bennett, G.E., Coggins, L.G., Jr., Grams, P.E., Kennedy, T.A., Kubly, D.M., and Ralston, B.E., eds., Proceedings of the Colorado River Basin Science and Resource Management Symposium, November 18–20, 2008, Scottsdale, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5135.

Hazel, J.E.., Jr., Grams, P.E., Schmidt, J.C., and Kaplinski, M., 2010, Sandbar response following the 2008 high-flow experiment on the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyons, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5015, 52 p. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5015/].

Melis, T.S., Hamill, J.F., Coggins, L.G., Bennett, G.E., Grams, P.E., Kennedy, T.A., Kubly, D.M., and Ralston, B.E., 2010, Proceedings of the Colorado River Basin Science and Management Symposium, November 18-20, 2008, Scottsdale, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5135, 372 p.

Melis, T.S., Topping, D.J., Grams, P.E., Rubin, D.M., Wright, S.A., Draut, A.E., Hazel, J.E., Jr., Ralston, B.E., Kennedy, T.A., Rosi-Marshall, Emma, Korman, Josh, Hilwig, K.D., and Schmit, Lara M., 2010, 2008 High-flow experiment at Glen Canyon Dam benefits Colorado River resources in Grand Canyon National Park: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3009, 4 p. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3009/].

Rubin, D.M., Topping, D.J., Chezar, H., Hazel, J.E., Schmidt, J.C., Breedlove, M., Melis, T.S., and Grams, P.E., 2010, 20,000 grain-size observations from the bed of the Colorado River and implications for sediment transport through Grand Canyon, in Hydrology and sedimentation for a changing future; existing and emerging issues (Joint Federal Interagency Conference 2010—Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling, 4th, and Federal Interagency Sedimentation, 9th), Las Vegas, Nev., June 27- July 1, Proceedings: v. ISBN: 978-0-9779007-3-2, CD-ROM.

Topping, D.J., Rubin, D.M., Grams, P.E., Griffiths, R.E., Sabol, T.A., Voichick, N., Tusso, R.B., Vanaman, K.M., and McDonald, R.R., 2010, Sediment transport during three controlled-flood experiments on the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, with implications for eddy-sandbar deposition in Grand Canyon National Park: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1128, 111 p.

Wright, S.A. and Grams, P.E., 2010, Evaluation of water year 2011 Glen Canyon Dam flow release scenarios on downstream sand storage along the Colorado River in Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1133, 18 p.

Grams, P.E., and Wilcock, P.R., 2007, Water Resources Research.  Entrainment of fine sediment into suspension over a coarse immobile bed in equilibrium transport.

Wiele, S.M., Wilcock, P.R, and Grams, P.E., 2007, Reach-averaged sediment routing model of a canyon river, Water Resources Research, v. 43, W02425, doi:10.1029/2005WR004824.

Grams, P.E., Schmidt, J.C., and Topping, D.J., 2007, The Degraded Reach:  Rate and Pattern of Bed and Bank Adjustment of the Colorado River in the 25 km Immediately Downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, GSA Bulletin, v. 119, no.5/6, p. 556-575; doi: 10.1130/B25969.1.

Grams, P.E., Wilcock, P.R, and Wiele, S.M., 2005, Entrainment and non-uniform transport of fine-sediment in coarse-bedded rivers.  proceedings, River Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics, Urbana, Illinois.

Grams, P.E. and Schmidt, J.C., 2005.  Equilibrium or indeterminate? Where sediment budgets fail: Sediment mass balance and adjustment of channel form, Green River downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam, Utah and Colorado.  Geomorphology, 71: 156-181.

Grams, P.E. and Schmidt, J.C., 2002.  Streamflow regulation and multi-level flood plain formation: Channel narrowing on the aggrading Green River in the eastern Uinta Mountains, Colorado and Utah. Geomorphology, 44: 337-360.

Grams, P.E. and Schmidt, J.C., 1999. Geomorphology of the Green River in the eastern Uinta Mountains, Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah. In: A.J. Miller and A. Gupta (Editors), Varieties of Fluvial Form. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, pp. 81-111.

Schmidt, J.C., Parnell, R.A., Grams, P.E., J.E. Hazel, M.A. Kaplinski, L.E. Stevens, and T.L. Hoffnagle, 2001, The 1996 controlled flood in Grand Canyon: hydrology, hydraulics, sediment transport, and geomorphic change: Ecological Applications, 11(3): 657-671.

Schmidt, J.C., Grams, P.E. and Leschin, M.F., 1999. Variation in the magnitude and style of deposition and erosion in three long (8-12 km) reaches as determined by photographic analysis. In: R.H. Webb, J.C. Schmidt, R.A. Valdez and G.R. Marzolf (Editors), The Controlled Flood in Grand Canyon. Geophysical Monograph 110. American Geophysical Union, pp. 185-203.

Schmidt, J.C., Grams, P.E. and Webb, R.H., 1995. Comparison of the magnitude of erosion along two large regulated rivers. Water Resources Bulletin, 31: 617-631.

Theses:

Grams, P.E., 2006, Sand transport over a coarse and immobile bed.  Ph.D. dissertation, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

Grams, P.E., 1997. Geomorphology of the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument. MS Thesis, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, 140 pp.

Grams, P.E., 1991. Degradation of alluvial sand bars along the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Idaho, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, 98 pp.