Sear, D.A. and Newson, M.D.
Environmental change in river channels: a neglected element. Towards geomorphological typologies, standards and monitoring
Science of Total Environment, 310, (1), . (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.
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