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Interaction between curvature-driven width oscillations and channel curvature in evolving meander bends

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 August 2019

F. Monegaglia*
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, 38122Italy
M. Tubino
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, 38122Italy
G. Zolezzi
Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, 38122Italy
Email address for correspondence:


We study the morphodynamics of channel width oscillations associated with the planform development of river meander bends. With this aim we develop a novel planform evolution model, based on the framework of the classical bend theory of river meanders by Ikeda et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 112, 1981), that accounts for local width changes over space and time, tied to the local hydro-morphodynamics through a two-way feedback process. We focus our attention on ‘autogenic’ width variations, which are forced by flow nonlinearities driven by channel curvature dynamics. Under the assumption of regular, sinusoidal width and curvature oscillations, we obtain a set of ordinary differential equations, formally identical to those presented by Seminara et al. (J. Fluid Mech., vol. 438, 2001, pp. 213–230), with an additional equation for the longitudinal oscillation of the channel width. The proposed approach gives insight into the interaction between autogenic width variations and curvature in meander development and between forcing and damping effects in the formation of width variations. Model outcomes suggest that autogenic width oscillations mainly determine wider-at-inflection meandering river patterns, and affect their planform development particularly at super-resonant aspect ratios, where the width oscillation reaches its maximum and reduces meander sinuosity and lateral floodplain size. The coevolution of autogenic width oscillation and curvature occurs through temporal hysteresis cycles, whereby the peak in channel curvature lags behind that of width oscillation. Width oscillation amplitudes predicted by the model are consistent with those extracted from remotely sensed data.

JFM Papers
© 2019 Cambridge University Press 

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