Brian Van Dam
M.S. Student/Research Assistant
Phone: (207) 756-3578
School of Earth and Climate Sciences
5790 Bryand Global Sciences Center
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My research is focused on examining upland drainage patterns in Maine’s post-glaciated landscape. My academic background is in geographic information systems (GIS), so I am interested in approaching hydrologic and hydrographic problems from a geospatial perspective, using very high resolution topographic data and other spatial datasets.
Currently, I am working on developing an approach to use LiDAR elevation datasets in conjunction with soil data to estimate surface water storage in watersheds, as well as testing automated methods to locate channel heads from terrain data.
At present, I have field sites in the Sebago Lake watershed as part of Maine’s Sustainability Solution Initiative‘s (SSI) “Safeguarding a Vulnerable Watershed” project, and as of summer 2014 will be establishing field sites in coastal watersheds as part of the “Safe Beaches and Shellfish Beds” project through the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), a University of Maine/University of New Hampshire led research partnership.
Currently, the highest resolution elevation data available for much of the state is ten foot vertical interval contours [above left], which are inadequate for examining small-scale upland features. However, aerial LiDAR datasets are becoming increasingly available, giving us very high resolution elevation data accurate to several centimeters. Above [right] is an example of a two meter cell size bare ground (buildings and trees stripped out) elevation model for a section of the University of Maine campus. Notably, the resolution is great enough to be able to pick out individual cars in a parking lot (A) and extensive microtopography in forested areas (B). For both elevation datasets, colors represent elevation from low (green) to high (red).
This cross-section of a hillslope near the University of Maine campus on Marsh Island shows the clear transition between hummocky microtopography – and potential surface water storage – under mixed forest cover, and smooth terrain in a cleared field, showing one of the effects that human activity can have on upland hydrology.
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