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Debates in Geomorphology

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The science of geomorphology is not settled and is as dynamic as our landscapes. Across Universities and Offices, discussions are ongoing about the processes that shape our world. We have looked to the past, at how landscapes have formed, to try and understand how the Earth might change in the future - at how that might affect us - but with our actions rapidly changing both the land surface, the acidity of the oceans, and the atmosphere, is this still useful?

In 2020, we asked the geomorphology research community to come up and discuss the big ongoing debates in geomorphology.

They came up with four questions - 

1. How do our landscapes change?

How does the process of landscape formation get started? Do they change through small and often processes or large and rare ones? Is it the same everywhere? How does it vary around the world?

2. What are main drivers for landscape change?

What processes dictate how our landscapes look? Is it tectonics or climate? What role do plants and animals have on shaping landscapes? How does this change when we look at different scales?

3. How does our understanding of landscapes on Earth help us understand landscapes on other planetary surfaces?

Did Mars once have water? Would glaciers and rivers behave in a similar way on Mars as they do on Earth? What formed the landscape of the Moon? Is the surface of Pluto too different to anything on Earth to make analogies?

4. What is the impact of geomorphology on society and what is the impact of society on geomorphology?

What are the feedbacks? Where is geomorphology one of the driving issues facing society today? And how can we use geomorphology to address some of those?

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