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 Dr. Michael Grenfell

Position: Senior Lecturer
Department: Department of Earth Science
Faculty: Faculty of Natural Science
Qualifications: PhD (University of Exeter, 2012), MSc (University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2007), BSc Honours (University of Natal, 2003), BSc (University of Natal, 2002), PGCAP (University of Gloucestershire, 2014)
Tel: 021 959 2089
Fax: 021 959 1317
Email: mgrenfell@uwc.ac.za
Research:
 
 
 
 

Biography

 I study the morphodynamics of fluvial ecosystems (rivers and wetlands) in warm humid, sub-humid and semi-arid environments, over timescales ranging from decades to millennia. Through my research I have applied and integrated analyses of hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology to understand physical and biophysical drivers of fluvial ecosystem origin and dynamics. Through both research and vocational practice, I have considered the role, value and challenges of applying such understanding to the management and restoration of wetlands in particular, where geomorphological insight into processes and rates of morphological change is a critical but often neglected component of restoration planning. I favour research approaches that combine insights from a variety of techniques that make independent simplifying assumptions about the nature and dynamics of ecosystems, such as spatial analysis and remote sensing, fieldwork and geochronology, and numerical morphodynamic modelling, and I endeavour always to develop and teach system-level understanding that I believe has great value in management, restoration, and the evaluation of ecosystem services. During my academic career, I have walked in and/or worked on rivers and wetlands across South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the UK, the Swiss Alps, Austria, and Italy. This global ‘field experience’ has significantly shaped my view of nature, my understanding of the Earth system, and my approach to research and teaching. I teach introductory soil science, surface water processes, fluvial geomorphology, and aquatic ecosystems management.

Publications

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Petersen CR, Jovanovic NZ, Grenfell MC. 2020. The effectiveness of riparian zones in mitigating water quality impacts in an agriculturally-dominated river system in South Africa. African Journal of Aquatic Science In Press.

Li J, Grenfell M, Wei H, Tooth S, Ngiem S. 2020. Chute cutoff-driven abandonment and sedimentation of meander bends along a fine-grained, non-vegetated, ephemeral river on the Bolivian Altiplano. Geomorphology 350 In Press.

Grenfell S, Grenfell M, Ellery W, Job N, Walters D. 2019. A Genetic Geomorphic Classification System for Southern African Palustrine Wetlands: Global Implications for the Management of Wetlands in Drylands. Frontiers in Environmental Science 7:174.

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Grenfell SE, Ellery WN. 2019. Ecosystem engineering by hummock-building earthworms in seasonal wetlands of eastern South Africa: Insights into the mechanics of biomorphodynamic feedbacks in wetland ecosystems. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 44: 354-366.

​Petersen CR, Jovanovic NZ, Grenfell MC, Oberholster PJ, Cheng P. 2018. Responses of aquatic communities to physical and chemical parameters in agriculturally impacted coastal river systems. Hydrobiologia 813: 157-175.

Petersen CR, Jovanovic NZ, Le Maitre DC, Grenfell MC. 2017. Effects of land use change on streamflow and stream water quality of a coastal catchment. WaterSA 43: 139-152.

Grenfell SE, Callaway RM, Grenfell MC, Bertelli CM, Mendzil AF, Tew IF. 2016. Will a rising sea sink some estuarine wetland ecosystems? Science of the Total Environment 554-555: 276-292.

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas, AP. 2014. Mediative adjustment of river dynamics: The role of chute channels in tropical sand‐bed meandering rivers. Journal of Sedimentary Geology 301: 93‐106 (Special Issue on Morphodynamics of Large Rivers and Megafans, invited contribution).

Grenfell SE, Grenfell MC, Rowntree K, Ellery WN. 2014. Fluvial connectivity and climate: a comparison of channel pattern and process in two climatically contrasting fluvial sedimentary systems in South Africa. Geomorphology 205: 142-154 (Special Issue: Discontinuities in Fluvial Systems).

Keen-Zebert A, Tooth S, Rodnight H, Duller GAT, Roberts HM, Grenfell M. 2013. Late Quarternary floodplain reworking and the preservation of alluvial sedimentary archives in unconfined and confined river valleys in the eastern interior of South Africa. Geomorphology 185: 54-66.

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas, AP. 2012. Chute channel dynamics in large, sand-bed meandering rivers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 37: 315-331 (Virtual Themed Issue on River Bifurcations, invited contribution).

Ellery WN, Grenfell SE, Grenfell MC, Humphries MS, Barnes K, Dahlberg A, Kindness A. 2012. Peat formation in the context of the development of the Mkuze floodplain on the coastal plain of Maputaland, South Africa. Geomorphology 141: 11-20 

Grenfell MC, Ellery WN, Grenfell SE. 2009. Valley morphology and sediment cascades within a wetland system in the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg Foothills, eastern South Africa. Catena 78: 20-35. 

Grenfell SE, Rowntree K, Grenfell MC. 2012. Morphodynamics of a gully and floodout system in the Sneeuberg Mountains of the semi-arid Karoo, South Africa: implications for local landscape connectivity. Catena 89: 8-21. 

Grenfell SE, Ellery WN, Grenfell MC, Ramsay LF, Flügel TJ. 2010. Sedimentary facies and geomorphic evolution of a blocked-valley lake: Lake Futululu, northern Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Sedimentology 57: 1159-1174.

Grenfell SE, Ellery WN, Grenfell MC. 2009. Geomorphology and dynamics of the Mfolozi River floodplain, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Geomorphology 107: 226-240.

Grenfell MC, Ellery W, Grenfell SE. 2008. Tributary valley impoundment by trunk river floodplain development: A case study from the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg Foothills, eastern South Africa. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 33: 2029-2044.

Grenfell MC, Ellery WN, Garden SE, Dini J, van der Valk AG. 2007. The language of intervention: A review of concepts and terminology in wetland ecosystem repair. Water SA 33(1): 43-50.

Grenfell MC, Ellery WN, Preston-Whyte RA. 2005. Wetlands as early warning (eco)systems for water resource management. Water SA 31(4): 465-472.


Book Chapters

Ellery W, Grenfell SE, Grenfell MC, Powell R, Kotze DC, Marren PM, Knight J. 2016. Wetlands in southern Africa. In: Knight J, Grab S (Eds.). Quaternary Environmental Change in Southern Africa. Physical and Human Dimensions. Cambridge University Press.

Grenfell MC. 2015. Modelling Geomorphic Systems: Fluvial. Geomorphological Techniques Ch. 5, Sec. 6.4. British Society for Geomorphology.

Ellery WN, Grenfell SE, Grenfell MC, Humphries MS, Barnes KB. 2013. The Wetlands. In: Perissinotto R, Stretch DD, Taylor RH (Eds.). Ecology and Conservation of Estuarine Ecosystems: Lake St. Lucia as a Global Model. Cambridge University Press. 

Scientific Research Reports

Van Deventer H, Smith-Adao L, Collins NB, Grenfell M, Grundling A, Grundling P-L, Impson D, Job N, Lötter M, Ollis D, Petersen C, Scherman P, Sieben E, Snaddon K, Tererai F, Van der Colff D. 2019. South African National Biodiversity Assessment 2018: Technical Report. Volume 2: Inland Aquatic (Freshwater) Component. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI): Pretoria, South Africa. Report Number: CSIR report number CSIR/NRE/ECOS/IR/2019/0004/A. SANBI handle: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12143/6230.

Van Deventer H, Collins NB, Genthe B, Grundling P-L, Grundling A, Grenfell M, Hill L, Impson D, Lötter M, Petersen C, Smith-Adao LB, Snaddon K, Tererai F, Van der Colff D, Van Rensburg S. 2019. Chapter 4: Pressures on the Inland Aquatic Environment. In: Van Deventer et al. South African National Biodiversity Assessment 2018: Technical Report. Volume 2: Inland Aquatic (Freshwater) Component. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI): Pretoria, South Africa. CSIR report number CSIR/NRE/ECOS/IR/2019/0004/A. SANBI handle: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12143/6230.

Tooth S, Ellery F, Grenfell M, Thomas A, Kotze D, Ralph T. 2015. 10 Reasons why the Geomorphology of Wetlands is Important. Wetlands in Drylands Research Network, available online at http://wetlandsindrylands.net/.

Tooth S, Grenfell MC, Thomas A, Ellery WN. 2015. Wetlands in Drylands: ‘Hotspots’ of Ecosystem Services in Marginal Environments. GSDR 2015 Science Brief, United Nations.

The Wetlands in Drylands Research Network. 2014. Parys Declaration on the Importance of Wetlands in Drylands, available at http://wetlandsindrylands.net.

Ellery W, Grenfell S, Grenfell M, Jaganath C, Malan H, Kotze D. 2010. A method for assessing cumulative impacts on wetland functions at the catchment or landscape scale. Water Research Commission Research Report TT437-09, Pretoria, 123 pp.

Kotze D, Ellery W, Rountree M, Grenfell M, Marneweck G, Nxele I, Breen C, Dini J, Batchelor A, Sieben E. 2009. WET-RehabPlan: Guidelines for Planning Wetland Rehabilitation in South Africa. Water Research Commission Research Report TT336-09, Pretoria, 62 pp.

Ellery W, Grenfell M, Grenfell S, Kotze D, McCarthy TS, Tooth S, Grundling PL, Beckedahl H, Le Maitre D, Ramsay L. 2009. WET-Origins: Controls on the Distribution and Dynamics of Wetlands in South Africa. Water Research Commission Research Report TT334-09, Pretoria, 100 pp.

Recent Conference Presentations

 

Grenfell MC, Grenfell SE, Walters D, Ellery F. 2019. Formation, degradation and recovery of wetlands in drylands: do our restoration strategies address key drives of change? Symposium no. 30, introduction by the session chair. Oral presentation at the 8th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Cape Town, 22-27 September 2019.

Grenfell MC. 2019. Disciplinary perspectives on timescales of ecosystem formation, degradation and recovery in wetlands in drylands: what is the natural reference condition? Oral presentation at the 8th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Cape Town, 22-27 September 2019.

Grenfell MC, Grenfell SE. 2018. Evaluating effects of flow regime change on physical habitat in non-perennial river systems: why morphodynamics matters. Oral presentation at the ‘South African National Wetlands Indaba’, Kimberley, Northern Cape, 8-11 October 2018.

Grenfell MC. 2017. Eco-Morphodynamics for Environmental Water Allocation in Non-Perennial Rivers: Challenges and Opportunities. Oral presentation at the 10th Symposium on River, Coastal and Estuarine Morphodynamics, Padua, Italy, 15-22 September 2017.

Grenfell MC. 2017. Eco-Morphodynamics in Non-Perennial Rivers: Challenges and Opportunities. Poster presentation at WiDs2017: Dynamic Landscapes, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, 24-26 July 2017.

Grenfell MC. 2017. Session 1 Introduction: Hydro-geomorphological dynamics of wetlands in drylands. Oral presentation at WiDs2017: Dynamic Landscapes, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, 24-26 July 2017. 

Grenfell MC. 2016. Geospatial Modelling of Wetland Hydrogeomorphology and Ecosystem Services. Poster presentation at the NRF / Newton Fund Workshop on equipping early career researchers with tools for evaluating ecosystem services which underpin food and water security, STIAS, Stellenbosch, 29 September – 1 October 2016.

Grenfell MC. 2015. Source-to-sink evaluation of wetland ecosystem services in the post-fire Silvermine River Catchment, Cape Town. Oral presentation at the ‘South African National Wetlands Indaba’, Rawsonville, Western Cape, 20-23 October 2015.

Grenfell MC. 2014. New techniques in wetland research (session chair). Oral presentation at the ‘Royal Society/NRF Workshop on Wetlands in drylands: past, present and future trends in ecosystem service provision’, Stonehenge Conference Venue, Parys, Free State, 9-12 November 2014.

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas AP. 2013. Morphodynamics of Bifurcate Meander Bends in the Strickland River, Papua New Guinea. Poster Presentation at the ‘British Society for Geomorphology Annual Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, 1-3 September 2013’.

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas AP. 2011. Chute Channels and Iterative Adjustment in Large, Sand-Bed Meandering Rivers. Oral Presentation at the ‘AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, California, 5-9 December 2011’.

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas AP. 2011. Chute Channel Dynamics in Large, Sand-Bed Meandering Rivers. Oral Presentation at the ‘International Conference on the Status and Future of the World’s Large Rivers, Vienna, 11-14 April 2011’. 

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas AP. 2009. Effects of Chute Channel Formation on Decadal-to Centennial-Scale Floodplain Sedimentation, Strickland River, Papua New Guinea. Poster presentation at the ‘British Society for Geomorphology Annual Conference, Durham University, 7-9 September 2009’.​​

Grenfell MC, Aalto R, Nicholas AP. 2009. Effects of Chute Partitioning on Meander Belt Sedimentation, Strickland River, Papua New Guinea. Poster presentation at the ‘Integration and Synthesis of Margins Sediment Source-to-Sink Research, Gisborne, New Zealand, 5-9 April 2009’.​​​

 

Networks

 I am a founding member of the Wetlands in Drylands Research Network: http://wetlandsindrylands.net/

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