Dr. Ian J. Walker
Dr. Walker is a Professor of Geography and obtained his BSc in Physical Geography from the University of Toronto (1995) and PhD from the University of Guelph (2000). Professor Walker is a geomorphologist with research expertise in beach-dune systems, coastal and wind erosion, sediment transport processes, and sand dune morphodynamics. His research examines a wide range of spatial and temporal scales from high-frequency turbulence and sediment transport in wind to late Quaternary coastal landscape and sea level reconstructions. Dr. Walker's research has involved wind tunnel and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations of flow over dunes and he is a leading expert on the use of turbulence and sand transport instrumentation (ultrasonic anemometry, laser particle counters) in aeolian research. More recently, Dr. Walker’s research explores geomorphic and sediment budget responses of coastal dune ecosystem restoration initiatives as well as the impacts of climatic variability on coastal erosion and beach-dune recovery. His research program is currently funded by the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the US National Science Foundation (NSF), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and supports collaborations with a wide range of federal agencies (Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Geological Survey of Canada, US National Parks Service) as well as international academic colleagues.
I am a research associate CEDD and Hakai Insitute, and my primary role is co-lead of the Coastal Sand Ecosystems (CSE) program at Hakai. The CSE is a team of interested researchers working on various sub-projects that explore the biophysical processes within, connections between, and ecological and/or geomorphic responses of sub-tidal (nearshore), inter-tidal (foreshore), and supra-tidal (backshore) components of coastal sand ecosystems. Our activities will include short-term research and experimentation, and more long-term monitoring of key environmental attributes in these systems. As such, we strive to develop strong research synergies across a variety of disciplines, including: ecology, soil science, biogeochemistry, microbiology, marine biology, and geomorphology. Together, individual projects will offer a wide range of scope and objective with a collective goal to address truly novel questions/hypotheses. Through this collaborative process, we intend to further expose and understand the highly dynamic and complex Coastal Sand Ecosystems of the BC coast.
My honours research project involved using LIDAR to quantify how much extra sediment storage is provided by coastal large woody debris accumulations, using three study sites in Haida Gwaii. Turns out there's a lot, and this has implications for the morphology of the beach and backshore, which is significant considering these are largely anthropogenic features (almost all lost timber).
My MSc research involved a restoration project underway in the coastal dune field on Wickaninnish beach in Pacific Rim National Park. The project is being undertaken by Parks Canada to remove a hyper-stabilizing invasive grass and I traveled up monthly to take detailed DEMs, sediment samples, and vantage photos to quantify the reactivation of these dune systems. I also investigated the geostatistics of coastal beach-dune systems, providing a framework for future coastal scientists to work with when creating DEMs of coastlines. I've switched all my GIS work to open-source, using QGIS, GCD, and R.
I'm nearly finished a PhD project involving the reconstruction of regional Holocene sea level and coastline response on Calvert Island, BC, working with the Hakai Beach Institute. Three peer-reviewed papers are forthcoming from my dissertation work that involve finding evidence of a late Pleistocene glacial readvance of ice, using micro-structural sedimentological data to determine depositional environments, and a Holocene reconstruction of a Pacific Northwest coastline that experienced little to no sea-level change, a rarity on our coast.
My teaching interests have spanned a wide range of topics as a laboratory instructor (such as hydrogeology, oceans and atmosphere, statistics, GIS, and environment, society and sustainability), and I have enjoyed teaching two upper level geomorphology courses at UVic.
I am currently doing my Master's in geoarchaeology at the University of Victoria, under Ian Walker (Geog.) and Daryl Fedje (Anthro.). My research is on the paleo-landscape development on Quadra Island, B.C., since deglaciation (c. 14,000 cal years BP). I am attempting to find and decipher paleo-coastal features that are now stranded inland, due to the rapid sea-level regression between 14,000 to 10,000 cal yrs B.P. Paleoshorelines, including raised beaches and deltas, are my primary interest. These will be used as evidence of stillstands in the relative sea level history, and as proxy evidence of elevations representing periods of landscape stability.
By using mixed methods such a LIDAR and sedimentology, the paleo-coastal development since 14,000 cal yr B.P., can be refined and stillstands identified. This knowledge will then be incorporated into a predictive model to prospect for early Holocene archaeological sites on the Quadra Island landscape, and the surrounding region.
I am currently working on a Master's project in Geomorphology under Ian Walker in the Coastal Erosion and Dune Dynamics Lab, in conjunction with Andrea Pickart at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Northern California. My project explores how various vegetation cover types effect the sand dune morphology and sediment cycling throughout a sand dune system in Arcata, California.
Specifically I will examine the impacts of restoration and land management techniques that deal with the removal of invasive dune grass species on the incipient and established foredune zones. To do this historical air photo analysis, seasonal point clouds generated from a ground based LiDAR system and transect sampling data will be analyzed in order to inform current and future coastal management regimes.
As a doctoral student in Geography at UVic, I am currently researching the relationships between climatic drivers and the coastal evolution of embayed beaches on British Columbia’s central coast. My background in geosciences and experience with GIS are tools that help me to better understand the bays’ sensitivity to the effects of climatic variables such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Niño Northern Oscillation. One of my purposes while studying coastal areas is to provide useful information for assisting coastal managers, policy makers and government agencies in making sound decisions for future coastal management plans and the protection of coastal communities. In that sense, understanding and deciphering the role that climatic variability plays in coastal evolution provides new insight into forecasting coastal changes to support evidence-based management decisions.