Eric Larsen

Eric Larsen

Position Title
Researcher Emeritus

Landscape Architecture + Environmental Design

119 Hunt Hall


My work focuses on how rivers form in nature. What I do is vital to understanding rivers, has far-reaching impacts on a range of natural resources, and excites me. I use my work to guide others – particularly decision makers – to help them make informed planning choices. As a “Research Geomorphologist” in the Landscape Architecture Program, I have developed a gifted team, representing many disciplines, which influences river management and restoration throughout the West. I also reach out beyond the university, representing UC Davis and the Landscape Architecture Program to the general public, to help them understand river processes and how to manage them in the public interest. After decades of practice, I am now sought out to help “communicate complex scientific ideas to the public in ways that they can easily understand.

Water, and how it flows, impacts every community on the planet. Understanding the dynamics of flowing water, and how to predict it, is absolutely vital. Fostering that understanding is not only a public service, it is essential in a world facing massive changes to its climate and natural resources. I use my expertise in rivers to create tools, team with others, and influence decision makers to plan for these changes in a thoughtful and deliberate way. It continues to be a rewarding experience.

Sacramento River: Lifeblood of California, a film by Eric Larsen and Chris Harvey (15 minutes)

Meet Eric Larsen (.MP3 audio file)

About Cache Creek (Audio from article)

Reflections On Luna Leopold


Peer-reviewed journal articles

1. 2000 Kondolf, G.M., E.W. Larsen, and J.G. Williams.  2000.  Measuring and Modeling the Hydraulic Environment for Assessing Instream Flows.  North American Journal of Fisheries Management 20:1016-1028.

2. 2002 Larsen, E.W. and S.E. Greco.  2002.  Modeling Channel Management Impacts on River Migration: A Case Study of Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area, Sacramento River, California, USA.  Environmental Management 30(2):209-224.

3. 2004 Micheli, E.R., J.W. Kirchner, and E.W. Larsen.  2004.  Quantifying the Effect of Riparian Forest Verses Agricultural Vegetation on River Meander Migration Rates, Central Sacramento River, California, USA.  River Research and Applications, 20:537-548.

4. 2004 Rains, M.C., J.F. Mount, and E.W. Larsen.  2004.  Simulated Changes in Shallow Groundwater and Vegetation Distributions under Different Reservoir Operations Scenarios.  Ecological Applications, 14(1):192-207.

5. 2004 Rains, M.C., J.F. Mount, and E.W. Larsen.  2004.  Local Shallow Groundwater Drawdown and Baseflow Cessation Due to Regional Groundwater Pumping.  In R. Lowrance (editor).  Riparian Ecosystems and Buffers: Multi-Scale Structure, Function, and Management.  2004 AWRA Summer Specialty Conference Proceedings, Olympic Valley, California.  American Water Resources Association, Middleburg, Virginia, 1-6

6. 2006 Larsen, E.W., E.H. Girvetz and A.K. Fremier.  2006.  Assessing the Effects of Alternative Setback Channel Constraint Scenarios Employing a River Meander Migration Model.  Environmental Management, 37(6):880-897.

7. 2006 Golet, G.H., M.D. Roberts, E.W. Larsen, R.A. Luster, R. Unger, G. Werner and G.G. White.  2006.  Assessing Societal Impacts when Planning Restoration of Large Alluvial Rivers: A Case Study of the Sacramento River Project, California.  Environmental Management, 37(6):862-879.

8. 2006      Stubblefield, A.P., M.I. Escobar and E.W. Larsen.  2006.  Retention of Suspended Sediment and Phosphorus on a Freshwater Delta, South Lake Tahoe, California.  Wetlands Ecology and Management, 14:287-302.

9. 2006 Larsen, E.W., A.K. Fremier and S.E. Greco.  2006.  Cumulative Effective Stream Power and Bank Erosion on the Sacramento River, California, USA.  Journal of American Water Resources Association, 42(4):1077-1097.

10. 2006 Larsen, E.W., A.K. Fremier, and E.H. Girvetz.  2006.  Modeling the Effects of Variable Annual Flow on River Channel Meander Migration Patterns, Sacramento River, CA, USA.  Journal of American Water Resources Association, 42(4):1063-1075.

11. 2006 Yarnell, S., J.F. Mount, E.W. Larsen.  2006.  The Influence of Relative Sediment Supply on Riverine Habitat Heterogeneity.  Geomorphology, 80:310-324.

12. 2007 Larsen, E.W., E.H. Girvetz and A.K. Fremier.  2007.  Landscape Level Planning in Alluvial Riparian Floodplain Ecosystems: Using Geomorphic Modeling to Avoid Conflicts between Human Infrastructure and Habitat Conservation.  Landscape & Urban Planning, 79:338-346.

13. 2007 Greco, S.E., A.K. Fremier, E.W. Larsen, and R.E. Plant.  2007.  A Tool for Tracking Floodplain Age Land Surface Patterns on a Large Meandering River with Applications for Ecological Planning and Restoration Design.  Landscape and Urban Planning, 81:354-373.

14.  2008 Greco, S.E., Girvetz, E.H., Larsen, E.W., Mann, J.P., Tuil, J.L., Lowney, C., 2008. Relative elevation topographic surface modeling of a large alluvial river floodplain and applications for the study and management of Riparian landscapes. Landscape Research 33, 461–486.

15. 2010 Micheli, E.R. and E.W. Larsen River Channel Cutoff Dynamics, Sacramento River, California, USA. River Research and Applications. n/a. doi: 10.1002/rra.1360.

16. 2013 Golet, G.H., Brown, D.L., Carlson, M., Gardali, T., Henderson, A., Holl, K.D., Howell, C.A., Holyoak, M., Hunt, J.W., Kondolf, G.M., Larsen, E.W., Luster, R.A., McClain, C., Nelson, C., Paine, S., Rainey, W., Rubin, Z., Shilling, F., Silveira, J., Swagert, H., WIlliams, N.M., and D.M. Wood. Successes, Failures and Suggested Future Directions for Ecosystem Restoration of the Middle Sacramento River, CA. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, 11(3): 1-29.

17. 2014 Fremier, A.K., Girvetz, E.H., Greco, S.E. and E.W. Larsen. Quantifying Process-Based Mitigation Strategies in Historical Context: Separating Multiple Cumulative Effects on River Meander Migration. PLOS ONE, 9(6): 1.

18. 2014 Greco, S.E. and E.W. Larsen. Ecological Design of Multifunctional Open Channels for Flood Control and Conservation Planning. Landscape and Urban Planning, 131: 14-26.



Ph.D. Civil Engineering, Environmental Water Resources Division. Department of Civil Engineering. University of California, Berkeley, 1995.


M.S.Civil Engineering, Environmental Water Resources Division. Department of Civil Engineering. University of California, Berkeley, 1986.


B.A. Engineering and Applied Physics, Harvard University, 1969.

Curriculum Vitae

Larsen CV

Limited Distribution