Shelby Ahrendt

I study rivers and the way they transport sediment to better understand flooding in Puget Sound, WA basins.

The following photo encapsulates the essence of my research. Flowing from left to right is a small, mountain tributary in the Snoqualmie River drainage which gradually makes its way to the Puget Sound just north of Seattle.

June, 2019: Taylor River Tributary

What do you notice first about the scene? The washed-out culvert, overwhelmed by high flows and debris? The faint boot trail cutting through the rubble as hikers reestablish the backpacking route? Or, the volume of recently mobilized sediment strewn about the hillslope?

It is the fate of this mountain sediment we are interested in– we are curious whether it contributes to flooding in lowland communities by depositing in river channels and reducing fluvial conveyance capacity. I joined the team of scientists at the University of Washington in 2018 on a project trying to understand the way rivers transport sediment from the mountains to the coast and how this affects flood hazard.

Prior to enrolling at UW, I worked as a Groundwater Modeler for the Illinois State Water Survey and graduated from St. Olaf College with a B.A. in Physics and Studio Art. When I’m not in the lab, you can find me skiing, mountain biking or competing in a heated game of Bananagrams.

Feel free to reach out! I’m always open to questions and fresh ideas:
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