James Cooper

Lecturer in Physical Geography


Dr James Cooper is a member of the Institute for Risk and Uncertainty and the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Liverpool. He has a BSc. (Hons) in Geography (2002) from the University of Sheffield, where he also obtained his PhD in Civil Engineering (2006) on 'Spatially-induced Momentum Exchange over Water-Worked Gravel Beds', in which his work examined flow spatial variability and its significance for momentum transfer in gravel-bed rivers. He then went on to hold an ARCO Research Fellowship in Environmental Fluid Dynamics at the University of Hull, a lectureship in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Bradford and a PDRA position in soil erosion dynamics at the University of Sheffield. Since September 2012 James has been a lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Liverpool.

Dr Cooper’s research interests lie in the risks that are caused by the movement of water and sediment within river catchments. This includes river flooding, river erosion, overland flows (surface flooding) on hillslopes, soil erosion and the mobilization and transport of contaminated sediment. His work focuses on understanding the processes of water and sediment movement so that process-based models can be developed that allow this movement to be predicted. This has included using laboratory flumes and rainfall simulators to investigate the key variables that effect flow and sediment dynamics through the use of advanced image-, laser- and acoustic-based measurement techniques. I have developed a particle-based, stochastic model of soil erosion that allows the movement of individual particles to be simulated and the redistribution of soil to be mapped following a storm event. This model is being used, in conjunction with the University of Tsukuba, Japan, to simulate the mobilization and transport of radiocaesium in soils following the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster.


  • PhD, 'Spatially-induced Momentum Exchange over Water-Worked Gravel Beds', 2006, Department of Civil & Structural Engineering University of Sheffield.
  • BSc. (Hons) Geography, 2002, University of Sheffield.

Teaching Areas

  • Fluvial geomorphology
  • Environmental hydraulics
  • Hydrology
  • Soil erosion
  • Numerical modelling

Research Interests

  • River hydraulics (turbulence, hydraulic resistance, momentum exchange)
  • Bedload transport in gravel-bed rivers
  • Soil erosion and overland flow dynamics
  • Movement of contaminated soil in river catchments
  • Measurement and parameterisation of surface topography of sediment surfaces

Selected Publications

  1. Cooper J.R., Wainwright J., Parsons A.J., Onda Y., Furukawa T., Obana E., Kitchener B.,Long E.J. and Hargrave G.H. (2012) A new approach for simulating the redistribution of soil particles by water erosion: A marker-in-cell model, Journal of Geophysical Research –Earth Surface, doi:10.1029/2012JF002499.

  2. Cooper, J.R. (2011) Does flow variance affect bedload flux when the bed is dominated by grain roughness?, Geomorphology, 141–142, 160–169, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.12.039

  3. Mao L., Cooper J.R., and Frostick L.E. (2011) Grain size and topographical differences between static and mobile armour layers. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 36, 10, 1321-1334, doi: 10.1002/esp.2156

  4. 4.    Cooper J.R. and Tait S.J. (2010) Examining the physical components of boundary shear stress for water-worked gravel deposits, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 35, 10, 1240-1246, doi: 10.1002/esp.2020

  5. Cooper J.R. and Tait S.J. (2010) Spatially representative velocity measurement over water-worked gravel beds, Water Resources Research, 46, W11599, doi: 10.1029/2009WR008465

  6. Cooper J.R. and Tait S.J. (2009) Water-worked gravel beds in laboratory flumes: a natural analogue?, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 34, 384–397, doi: 10.1002/esp.1743

  7. Cooper J.R. and Tait S.J. (2008) The spatial organisation of time-averaged velocity and its relationship with the bed surface topography of water-worked gravel beds, Acta Geophysica, 56, 3, 614-642, doi: 10.2478/s11600-008-0023-0

  8. Cooper J.R., Tait S.J. and Horoshenkov K.V. (2006) Determining the hydraulic resistance of gravel-bed rivers from the dynamics of their water surfaces, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 31, 1839-1848, doi: 10.1002/esp.1447.