Environmental change in river channels: a neglected element. Towards geomorphological typologies, standards and monitoring

Sear, D.A. and Newson, M.D. (2003) Environmental change in river channels: a neglected element. Towards geomorphological typologies, standards and monitoring. The Science of the Total Environment, 310, (1), 17-23. (doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(02)00619-8).


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Rivers integrate the impacts of change in atmospheric and terrestrial systems; they then deliver these to the coast. En route geomorphological processes create dynamic and diverse habitats, both in-stream and in riparian/floodplain ecotones. The dynamics of channel change conflict with human resource development, the outcome is that many river and riparian environments have been significantly modified, complicating the interpretation of change. Collection of geomorphological data on both form and process has to date been overwhelmingly an academic pursuit; standard measurement networks and long-term monitoring have, as a result been largely absent-as in the Environmental Change Network (ECN), despite the emerging requirements of legislation such as the EU Water Framework Directive. In this paper, we utilise a unique set of repeat channel surveys and long-term bed-load sediment yields to provide guidance on both definitions of change and those variables and survey techniques which might form the basis, in future, of improved national-scale monitoring. The Environment Agency's River Habitat Surveys suggest the basis for channel typologies that could structure a sampling framework and rationalise the variables to be monitored. We also point to the value of more detailed geomorphological procedures in use at the catchment/project scale-Catchment Baseline Surveys and Fluvial Audits-as a standardised basis for monitoring the detail of change in the fluvial sediment system. A perfect opportunity to lay foundations for such monitoring activity has been provided in England and Wales by the winter floods of 2000/2001.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/S0048-9697(02)00619-8
ISSNs: 0048-9697 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: fluvial geomorphology, physical habitat, river channel monitoring, river surveys, channel typology, channel change
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Geography > Environmental Processes and Change
ePrint ID: 57895
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
1 July 2003Published
Date Deposited: 11 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:39
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/57895

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