A. Brad Murray

A. Brad Murray


Director of Graduate Studies (Earth & Ocean Sciences)

Primary Appointment

Earth & Ocean Sciences Division

I am interested in many surface processes and patterns, including rivers and a range of desert, arctic, and alpine phenomena. My recent efforts have focused on coastal and nearshore processes. The nearshore environment is a spatially extended system that exhibits complex, dynamic spatial patterns, including the arrangement of bars and channels, waves, and often an array of alongshore and cross-shore currents. I approach such systems with the perspective and techniques developed in the study of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, looking for possibly simple, large-scale interactions that could explain complex behaviors. I use relatively simple, cellular-automata-like models to test such hypotheses. (click here for recent abstracts) Recently I have been applying these methods to beach and surf-zone problems, but I am expanding my focus onshore and offshore, to include studies of storm-driven currents and sediment transport kilometers from shore, as well as the formation and evolution of shoreline-scale features such as cuspate forelands and capes, cuspate spits, and 'sand waves'. Another aspect of my research involves comparing field or laboratory observations with models of complex systems, for which linear statistics concerning the system's behavior may not sensitively reflect the interactions that produced them. I apply and develop nonlinear data analysis techniques to sensitively test how realistic model interactions are. I also advocate using different model-testing strategies for maximally-realistic simulations and highly simplified models. (See model testing for more information.)

In The News


Dong, X, Cohen, MJ, Martin, JB, McLaughlin, DL, Murray, AB, Ward, ND, Flint, MK, and Heffernan, JB. "Ecohydrologic processes and soil thickness feedbacks control limestone-weathering rates in a karst landscape." Chemical Geology (May 2018).
Antolínez, JAA, Murray, AB, Méndez, FJ, Moore, LJ, Farley, G, and Wood, J. "Downscaling Changing Coastlines in a Changing Climate: The Hybrid Approach." Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface 123, no. 2 (February 2018): 229-251.
Limber, PW, Adams, PN, and Murray, AB. "Modeling large-scale shoreline change caused by complex bathymetry in low-angle wave climates." Marine Geology 383 (January 2017): 55-64.
Gopalakrishnan, S, McNamara, D, Smith, MD, and Murray, AB. "Decentralized Management Hinders Coastal Climate Adaptation: The Spatial Dynamics of Beach Nourishment." Decentralized management hinders coastal climate adaptation: the spatial-dynamics of beach nourishment (June 2016).
Murray, AB, Gasparini, NM, Goldstein, EB, and van der Wegen, M. "Uncertainty quantification in modeling earth surface processes: more applicable for some types of models than for others." Computers & Geosciences 90 (May 2016): 6-16.

Recent Grants


EOS 715: Introduction to Coastal Environmental Change Processes (EOS 715: Introduction to Coastal Environmental Change Processes)
EOS 567: Analyzing Time and Space Series (EOS 567: Analyzing Time and Space Series)
ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
EOS 316A: Beach and Island Geological Processes (EOS 316A: Beach and Island Geological Processes)
EOS 394: Research Independent Study (EOS 394: Research Independent Study)

Contact Information

Box 90230
Durham, NC 27708-0230
334 Old Chem Bldg
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1995)
M.S., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1990)
B.A., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1986)
BIS, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1986)

Additional Resources