Document Type



Environmental Studies

Publication Date



The zeroth -order response of eroding topography to changes in base-level is driven by patchy and intermittent mass flux, both on hillslopes and in channels. However, most models of landscape evolution use continuously differentiable equations that average over these patchy first-order transport processes. Because of the limited time- and space-resolution of field observations, the relationship between zeroth-order landscape evolution and first-order fluctuations about the zeroth-order state due to patchy, intermittent transport remains unclear. Here, we use five physical experiments of an eroding experimental landscape to examine how the signature of first-order transport, as described by autocorrelation functions of local elevation time series, varies as a function of the vigor of hillslope transport relative to channel incision. Our results show that experiments with higher hillslope transport efficacy have higher autocorrelation coefficients, suggesting that differences in zeroth-order transport coefficients may be driven by differences in patchy, first-order transport processes. These higher autocorrelation coefficients also imply that in landscapes where hillslope transport dominates, landscape dynamism is reduced and landforms are more persistent over time.


Landscape evolution, geomorphology, erosion

Grant Funding and Agency

National Science Foundation, EAR 1252177