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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Research project: Temporal Evolution of Roughness in Eroding River Banks

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Recent progress in modelling rates of hydraulic river bank erosion [Darby et al., 2010] has indicated that the form roughness induced by natural topographic bank features (slumps, embayments, etc.) is a major component of the spatially-averaged total shear stress.

Project Overview

View of the deeply incised (~4m) river bank of the Cecina River, central Italy, showing the TLS
The Terrestrial Laser Scanner
Digital elevation models of bank erosion on the Cecina River, central Italy.
Digital Elevation Model of Erosion

 Recent progress in modelling rates of hydraulic river bank erosion [Darby et al., 2010] has indicated that the form roughness induced by natural topographic bank features (slumps, embayments, etc.) is a major component of the spatially-averaged total shear stress. The skin friction component is found to be typically an order of magnitude less than the total stress, such that the form roughness provides an important control on self-limiting bank erosion rates. However, given that the form roughness is induced by topographic forms that are themselves created by hydraulic bank erosion, it remains unclear whether and how bank roughness co-evolves with the erosion process.                                                                          

In an attempt to address this issue we are evaluating the temporal evolution of bank roughness parameters on an eroding bank of the Cecina River in central Italy. In our study bank ‘roughness profiles' are extracted from an annual series (2003-present) of high-resolution DEMs of the river bank, the latter being constructed either through digital photogrammetry or terrestrial laser scanning surveys supported by the British Society for Geomorphology. The DEMs are used to quantify accurately the spatial trends and amounts of annual bank erosion observed in relation to the hydrological regime of the river, and are compared to the temporal variations in river bank form and skin roughness components as the bank erodes. The data are being used to evaluate the extent to which there is a dynamic feedback between the bank erosion process and bank form roughness.

Related research groups

Earth Surface Dynamics

Staff

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