• 436 Citations
  • 11 h-Index

Research output per year

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Personal profile


Tim’s research focuses on the geomorphology of rivers and wetlands in dry landscapes. He has worked extensively in the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, and in Africa (Tshwane-Pienaars River, South Africa; Okavango Delta, Botswana; Nile River, Egypt). His research seeks to understand patterns and processes of fluvial landform change, sediment dynamics, aquatic ecosystem function, and interactions between people and rivers/wetlands in the context of long-term landscape evolution and environmental change. Tim collaborates widely with national and international colleagues, and is a key member of the Wetlands in Drylands Research Network.

Tim is recognised internationally for fluvial geomorphology research and coordination roles in training and capacity building programs for assessment of soil erosion and sediment transport using nuclear techniques, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He is Lead Country Coordinator for the IAEA Regional Cooperative Agreement Project RAS5084 “Assessing and Improving Soil and Water Quality to Minimize Land Degradation and Enhance Crop Productivity Using Nuclear Techniques” from 2018-2021.

Prior to his academic appointment, Tim was a senior environmental scientist with the NSW government (now DPIE) where he conducted and managed scientific projects, and worked closely with environmental managers to link river and wetland research to decision-making efforts and policies. This work led to publication of the book “Floodplain Wetland Biota in the Murray-Darling Basin: Water and habitat requirements” and continues through co-funded research, engagement and outreach with DPIE and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Research interests

  • River channel, floodplain and wetland morphodynamics
  • Fluvial responses to environmental variability and climate change
  • Sedimentology, geochronology and palaeoecology
  • Sediment tracing and sediment dynamics in catchments
  • Patterns, rates and hydrogeomorphic controls on aquatic ecosystem metabolism
  • Wetland responses to inundation; water and habitat requirements of freshwater biota
  • Links between fluvial and environmental change and human settlement in ancient civilisations
  • Anthropogenic impacts on environmental systems


Research student supervision

Tim has extensive experience with higher degree research students, having supervised to completion 1 PhD, 7 MRes and 2 Honours students as primary supervisor; and 2 PhD and 4 MRes students as associate supervisor.

Current PhD and MRes candidates:

  • Neda Yousefi (PhD project: Channel bifurcation and adjustment in multi-channelled floodplain wetlands)
  • Bradley Graves (PhD project: Channel discontinuity and floodout formation in dryland rivers)
  • Sana Khan (co-supervised PhD project: Analysis of river sensitivity for setting ‘expectations’ of geomorphic adjustment for river management)
  • Megan Gomes (PhD project, cotutelle with University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa: The geomorphology and avulsion history of the Mara River and floodplain wetlands in the semiarid Northern Province, Tanzania)
  • Carl Helander (MRes project: The role of chemical sedimentation in floodplain gigai development in the Macquarie Marshes)
  • Christoph Langenmaier (MRes project: Predicting global threats to wetlands in drylands)

Community engagement

Research engagement

External positions

Senior Environmental Scientist, Department of Environment Climate Change and Water

20 Aug 200823 Mar 2010

Environmental Scientist, NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change

20 Aug 200719 Aug 2008

Environmental Scientist, Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC)

2 Sep 200630 Sep 2006

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Research Outputs

A shifting 'river of sand': the profound response of Australia's Warrego River to Holocene hydroclimatic change

Larkin, Z. T., Ralph, T. J., Tooth, S. & Duller, G. A. T., 17 Aug 2020, In : Geomorphology. 370, p. 1-20 20 p., 107385.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Australia's inland rivers are the pulse of the outback. By 2070, they'll be unrecognisable

    Larkin, Z., Tooth, S. & Ralph, T. J., 21 Apr 2020, The Conversation.

    Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticle

    Open Access
  • 9 Downloads (Pure)

    Australia's inland rivers are the pulse of the outback. By 2070, they'll be unrecognisable

    Larkin, Z., Tooth, S. & Ralph, T. J., 21 Apr 2020, Smart Water Magazine.

    Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticle

    Open Access

    Australia's inland rivers are the pulse of the outback. By 2070, they'll be unrecognisable

    Larkin, Z., Tooth, S. & Ralph, T. J., 21 Apr 2020, The Mandarin.

    Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticle

    Open Access

    Australia’s rivers will be unrecognisable by 2070

    Larkin, Z., Tooth, S. & Ralph, T. J., 22 Apr 2020, Australian Geographic.

    Research output: Contribution to Newspaper/Magazine/WebsiteArticle

    Open Access


    2017 BHERT Award for Outstanding Collaboration for National (non-economic) Benefit

    Lesley Hughes (Recipient), Michelle Leishman (Recipient), Leigh Staas (Recipient), Rachael Gallagher (Recipient), Nola Hancock (Recipient), Linda Beaumont (Recipient), Victoria Graham (Recipient), Timothy J. Ralph (Recipient), Hsing-Chung Chang (Recipient), Kerrie Tomkins (Recipient), Emilie-Jane Ens (Recipient) & Melanie Bishop (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: Honorary award

    Faculty of Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Research

    Michelle Leishman (Recipient), Lesley Hughes (Recipient), Tori Graham (Recipient), Linda Beaumont (Recipient), Melanie Bishop (Recipient), Rachael Gallagher (Recipient), Nola Hancock (Recipient), Kerrie Tomkins (Recipient), Hsing-Chung Chang (Recipient), Emilie-Jane Ens (Recipient), Leigh Staas (Recipient) & Tim Ralph (Recipient), 24 Nov 2017



    Fellow of The Royal Geographical Society

    Tim Ralph (Recipient), Jul 2018

    Prize: Other distinction


    • 1 Invited talk

    Communicating geomorphology (or not)

    Tim Ralph (Speaker)
    11 Sep 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Press / Media

    Sharing expertise with regional neighbours

    Tim Ralph


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Project focuses on improving soil and water quality in Asia Pacific countries

    Tim Ralph


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities

    Preventing soil erosion with nuclear know-how

    Tim Ralph


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Expert Comment

    Embracing change: Dr Tim Ralph on conservation

    Tim Ralph


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Public Engagement Activities