Dr. Kimberly Huppert
2021 - present: Research group leader, GFZ
2019 - present: Senior research scientist, GFZ2017 - 2018: Postdoctoral research scientist, GFZ
2011 - 2017: Graduate student research & teaching assistant, MIT
Education:2017: PhD Geology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2011: BS Civil Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Climatic controls on erosion and landscape evolution
Because climate change is predicted to alter the frequency and magnitude of storms in the coming decades, quantifying the erosional responses to rainfall and waves are urgent problems in Earth science. Despite longstanding expectations for relationships between climate and erosion rates, measuring such a signal in field data has proven surprisingly difficult – partly because many non-climatic factors (e.g. lithology, rock uplift rates) also influence erosion rates and partly because erosional processes may respond to temporally variable climatic conditions in nuanced ways. Isolating the influence of climate on erosion rates and understanding the impact of hourly to million-year scale climate variability on earth surface processes are open challenges, so basic questions about how climate change will affect Earth’s surface remain unanswered. This knowledge gap also hinders efforts to infer tectonic history from topography, interpret sedimentary records, and understand feedbacks between erosion, weathering, CO2 drawdown, and climate change over geologic timescales. Some of the clearest relationships between climate and erosion have been measured in landscapes with relatively uniform lithology and tectonic uplift rates or in landscapes where these competing factors are well characterized. My research uses these natural laboratories to examine the influence of climate mean and variability on fluvial and coastal erosion rates and landscape evolution over glacial-interglacial to million-year timescales.
- Huppert, K.L. (2017). Climatic and geodynamic influences on ocean island geomorphology: PhD Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/108915.
- Ferrier, K.L., Perron, J.T., Mukhopadhyay, S., Rosener, M., Stock, J.D., Huppert, K.L., Slosberg, M. (2013). Covariation of climate and long-term erosion rates across a steep rainfall gradient on Kaua'i. Geological Society of America Bulletin 125(7-8), 1146-1163, doi:10.1130/B30726.1.
Topographic constraints on lithosphere and mantle dynamics
Topography can provide important observational constraints on the rheology, thermal evolution, and dynamics of the lithosphere and mantle – all of which have implications for understanding Earth's heat budget, the styles of deformation that develop at plate boundaries, and the surface expressions of mantle convection. Tectonic and geodynamic processes drive rock uplift and alter the base level of rivers and hillslopes by changing relative sea level. They consequently exert dominant control on terrestrial and submarine geomorphology; virtually all of Earth’s steepest landscapes are found in regions of rapid rock uplift, and conductive cooling of the lithosphere is the first-order control on global seafloor depths. Topo-bathymetry, paleoshorelines, and sedimentary records can therefore provide an invaluable window to deep earth processes operating today and in the geologic past. My research uses geomorphic observations - including the morphology of bedrock coasts, river profiles, and drainage networks - to constrain plume-plate interactions at ocean hotspots, relative sea level histories, and paleotectonics.
- Malatesta, L.C., Finnegan, N.J., Huppert, K.L., Carreño, E.I. (2021). The influence of rock uplift rate on the formation and preservation of individual marine terraces during multiple sea level stands. Geology, doi: 10.1130/G49245.1
- Yuan, X.P., Huppert, K.L., Braun, J., Shen, X.M., Liu-Zeng, J., Guerit, L., Wolf, S., Zhang, J.F., Jolivet, M. (2021). Propagating uplift controls on high-elevation, low-relief landscape formation on the Southeast Tibetan Plateau. Geology, doi: 10.1130/G49022.1
- Huppert, K.L., Perron, J.T., Royden, L.H. (2020). Hotspot swells and the lifespan of volcanic ocean islands. Science Advances 6 (1), doi:10.1126/sciadv.aaw6906. [Press: MIT News, New Atlas]
- Huppert, K.L., Royden, L.H., Perron, J.T. (2015). Dominant influence of volcanic loading on vertical motions of the Hawaiian Islands. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 418, 149 - 171, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.027.
Oscillatory flow sand ripples
Because the spacing of orbital sand ripples formed by shallow water waves scales with wave conditions and water depth, ripples preserved in sedimentary rocks can be used to infer paleoenvironmental conditions. However, modern and ancient ripple fields often contain defects - deviations from straight, evenly spaced crests - whose formation and evolution are not well understood. At MIT, I performed a series of experiments in a field-scale laboratory wave tank to characterize the response of a rippled bed to changing wave conditions.
- Jin, C., Coco, G., Tinoco, R.O., Perron, T., Myrow, P.M., Huppert, K.L., Friedrich, H., Goldstein, E.B., Gong, Z. (2020). Investigating the response of wave-generated ripples to changes in wave forcing. Geomorphology, 107229, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107229.
- Perron, J.T., Myrow, P.M., Huppert, K.L., Koss, A.R., Wickert, A.D. (2018). Ancient record of changing flows from wave ripple defects. Geology 46, 875-878, doi:10.1130/G45463.1. [Press: MIT News, Atlas Obscura]
- Perron, J.T., Myrow, P.M., Huppert, K.L., Koss, A.R., Wickert, A.D. (2016). Wave Ripple Time-Lapse Experiments. SEAD Internal Repository, doi:10.5967/M0QR4V39.
2013 - 2016: NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
2013: National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping Seed Project Grant
2011 - 2012: MIT Presidential Graduate Fellowship
2011: AGU Outstanding Student Paper Award, Earth & Planetary Surface Processes
2010: Chi Epsilon Civil Engineering Honor Society
2021: AGU Fall Meeting, Earth & Planetary Surface Processes Focus Group
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Geomorphology Seminar
University of Cambridge, Volcanology Seminar
EGU General Assembly, Geodynamics Program
North Carolina State University, Department of Marine, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences Colloquium
2020: University of Virginia, Department of Environmental Sciences Colloquium
University of Wisconsin, Department of Geoscience Weeks Lecture
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Geoscience Research Division Colloquium
University of Potsdam, Institute of Geosciences Colloquium
2018: AGU Fall Meeting, Earth & Planetary Surface Processes Focus Group
GFZ - PIK Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Workshop
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Earth Surface Process Modelling Seminar
EGU General Assembly, Geomorphology Program
University of Wyoming, Department of Geology & Geophysics Colloquium
Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences Colloquium
2017: GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Geomorphology Seminar
UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, Tectonics & Seismology Seminar
Sediment Experimentalists Network Workshop, Tsukuba, Japan
2016: AGU Fall Meeting, Volcanology, Geochemistry, & Petrology Focus Group
Teaching, service, & outreach:
University of Potsdam lecturer and co-instructor
2020 - 2021: Numerical Modeling of Earth Surface Processes (for Remote Sensing of the Environment MSc students)
MIT graduate student teaching assistant
2016: Introduction to Geology (required for Earth, Atmospheric, & Planetary Science undergraduate students)
2015: Geomorphology (for Earth, Atmospheric, & Planetary Science graduate and advanced undergraduate students)
2014: Introduction to Geophysics and Planetary Science (required for Earth, Atmospheric, & Planetary Science undergraduate students)
2013-2015: Incoming Freshman Field Trip to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Reviewer: Geology, The Journal of Geology, G-cubed, ESurf, Computers and Geosciences, Nature Geoscience, Geophysical Research Letters, PLOS ONE, Pacific Science, Geomorphology, Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface, NSF Geomorphology & Land-use Dynamics Program, National Science Centre Poland
Conference session co-convener
2022: EGU General Assembly, Investigating mantle dynamics through time and space using surface observations
2020 - 2022: EGU General Assembly, Advances in modelling of erosion processes, sediment dynamics, and landscape evolution
2018 - 2021: AGU Fall Meeting, The role and relevance of thresholds and variability across landscapes
2019: EGU General Assembly, Sediment transport and channel morphology in mountain rivers
2018 - present: GFZ Earth Surface Dynamics Lecture Series
2018 - 2019: GFZ Earth Surface Process Modelling Seminar
2018 - present: Skype a Scientist classroom video chat guest scientist (36 kindergarten - college classrooms on 4 continents)
2018 - present: MIT Educational Council undergraduate admissions alumni interviewer
2018 - 2020: Letters to a Pre-Scientist pen-pal to a middle school prospective scientist