Changing views in Canadian geomorphology: Are we seeing the landscape for the processes?

Ian J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

7 Scopus citations


Geomorphology in Canada, as elsewhere, has evolved into an essentially bipartite discipline focusing either on 'process' or broader 'historical' (Quaternary) landscape interpretation. A growing emphasis on process-oriented research that relies increasingly on instrumentation and computational technologies has occurred. Critics of such research note limited applicability for landscape evolution, fashionability of methods and limited societal relevance. Indeed, some say we are not seeing the landscape for the processes. This article discusses the changing nature of geomorphology since the Quantitative Revolution of the 1950s including new advances, recent trends and challenges. Publication trends and recent advances suggest that the discipline is very healthy (following a slump in the early 1990s) and continues to evolve, which may reflect increasing research infrastructure andor funding opportunities and new publications spotlighting Canadian research. Unfortunately, fundamental (less applied) research is threatened by funding program shifts, changing institutional pressures and a decline in research capacity from retirement attrition, and student recruitment challenges. Three research priorities are recommended: (1) continued fundamental research, (2) more integrated modelling to link micro scale processes to macro scale landform behaviour and (3) improvements in profiling our discipline amongst students and related professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages16
Specialist publicationCanadian Geographer
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • aeolian
  • bedforms
  • dunes
  • geomorphology
  • quantitative revolution
  • sediment transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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