Digitally generated impression of the channel network of the Waimakariri River in New Zealand
The Waimakariri River in New Zealand is a typical example of a braided river. The algorithm described in the paper is able to extract the channel network from a digital elevation model and deduce the topological features such as the main channels and the connecting points. Credit: Hiatt et al. [2020], Figure 7a
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Because of human action on rivers, water streams have mostly been perceived as single-thread systems that carry water and sediment. Natural rivers are more complex because they exhibit not a single, well-identified channel but a network of entangled channels. Understanding their dynamics is of paramount importance to many scientific and engineering problems, for example in river restoration.

Hiatt et al. [2020] tackle this problem and propose innovative tools for studying channel networks in braided rivers and estuaries. Pattern identification is easy to the human eye but training a computer to do so is far more difficult. The authors show how the channel network can be determined from topographic and bathymetric data.

Citation: Hiatt, M., Sonke, W., Addink, E. A., van Dijk, W. M., van Kreveld, M., Ophelders, T., et al. [2020]. Geometry and topology of estuary and braided river channel networks automatically extracted from topographic data. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 125, e2019JF005206.

—Christophe Ancey, Associate Editor, JGR: Earth Surface

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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