Jaia Syvitski

Jaia Syvitski CV




  • PhD: University of British Columbia, 1978

Contact Information

(Office) 303 735-5484
(Fax) 303 735-8180


Oceanography, geological sciences, hydrology, numerical modeling, geophysics.

Research Interests

Fjords, rivers, deltas, estuaries, particle dynamics, sediment transport and stratigraphy, continental margins, gravity flows, animal-sediment interactions, global change.


Professor Jaia Syvitski received doctorate degrees (Oceanography & Geological Science) from the University of British Columbia in 1978, where he developed a quantitative understanding of particle dynamics across the land-sea boundary. He held a variety of appointments within Canadian universities (1978-1995: U. Calgary, Dalhousie U., U. Laval, Memorial U., and INRS-oceanologie) and was a Senior Research Scientist within the Geological Survey of Canada at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (1981-1995). James served as Director of INSTAAR from 1995-2007, and presently holds faculty appointments in in Geological Sciences, Applied Mathematics, Atmosphere and Ocean Sciences, Hydrological Sciences, and Geophysics. He has over 500 publications, including authorship or co-authorship of 65 peer-reviewed books, and has served in various editorial positions for many international journals. James has taken leadership roles in large International Projects (e.g., SAFE, ADFEX, SEDFLUX, COLDSEIS, STRATAFORM, EuroSTRATAFORM, CSDMS), and served as an advisor for NSF, ONR, ARCUS, LOICZ, IGBP, IUGS, INQUA, SCOR, GWSP, and various energy, mining, and environmental companies.

James works in the forefront of computational geosciences: sediment transport, land-ocean interactions and Earth-surface dynamics. He is presently Executive Director of the Community Surface Dynamics Modeling System, an international effort in 68 countries to develop, support, and disseminate integrated computer models to the broader Geoscience community. James chaired ICSU’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (2011-16) that provides essential scientific leadership and knowledge of the Earth system to help guide society onto a sustainable pathway during rapid global change. He received the Royal Society of Canada 2009 Huntsman Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Marine Science, is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and will accept the SEPM Francis Shepard Medal in 2016 and an Honorary Doctor of Science in Sustainability from Newcastle University in 2016.


  • Francis P. Shepard Medal for Marine Geology, Society of Sedimentary Geology, 2016
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science, Newcastle University, 2016
  • Fellow, American Geophysical Union, 2010
  • Huntsman Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Marine Science, Royal Society of Canada, 2009




Irina OvereemBen HudsonJaia Syvitski, Mikkelsen, A. B., Hasholt, B., van der Broeke, M. R., Noël, B. P. Y., Morlighem, M. 2017: Substantial export of suspended sediment to the global oceans from glacial erosion in Greenland. Nature Geoscience, 10: 859-863. DOI: 10.1038/ngeo3046

Harris, C. K., Jaia Syvitski, Arango, H., Meiburg, E., Cohen, S., Chris Jenkins, Birchler, J. J., Eric Hutton, Kniskern, T., Radhakrishnan, S., Auad, G. 2020: Data-driven, multi-model workflow suggests strong influence from hurricanes on the generation of turbidity currents in the Gulf of Mexico. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 8(8): 586. DOI: 10.3390/jmse8080586

Jaia Syvitski, Waters, C. N., Day, J., Milliman, J. D., Summerhayes, C., Steffen, W., Zalasiewicz, J., Cearreta, A., Gałuszka, A., Hajdas, I., Head, M. J., Leinfelder, R., McNeill, J. R., Poirier, C., Rose, N. L., Shotyk, W., Wagreich, M., Williams, M. 2020: Extraordinary human energy consumption and resultant geological impacts beginning around 1950 CE initiated the proposed Anthropocene Epoch. Nature Communications Earth & Environment, 1: article 32. DOI: 10.1038/s43247-020-00029-y

Robinson, D. T., Di Vittorio, A., Alexander, P., Arneth, A., Barton, C. M., Brown, D. G., Albert J. Kettner, Lemmen, C., O’Neill, B. C., Janssen, M., Pugh, T. A. M., Rabin, S. S., Rounsevell, M., Jaia Syvitski, Ullah, I., Verburg, P. H. 2018: Modelling feedbacks between human and natural processes in the land system. Earth System Dynamics, 9(2): 895-914. DOI: 10.5194/esd-9-895-2018

Wang, H., Wu, X., Bi, N., Li, S., Yuan, P., Wang, A., Jaia Syvitski, Saito, Y., Yang, Z., Liu, S., Nittrouer, J. 2017: Impacts of the dam-orientated water-sediment regulation scheme on the lower reaches and delta of the Yellow River (Huanghe): A review. Global and Planetary Change, 157: 93-113. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2017.08.005

All publications by Jaia Syvitski >



Current Courses

  • GEOL 4060-5060: Oceanography

Past Courses

  • GEOL 4843: Independent Study, Sedimentology
  • GEOL 5847: Independent Study, Hydrology
  • GEOL 5700: Geological Topics Seminar
  • GEOL 5852: Independent Study, GIS and Remote Sensing