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Impact of environmental change on river systems

Hydromorphology looks at the way water interacts with sediment and how it interacts with other elements of the whole system, such as pressure from human activities and climate change. A multidisciplinary EU-funded initiative examined the link between erosive processes and hydromorphology in the context of integrated river basin management.
Impact of environmental change on river systems
As populations and the impacts of climate change are set to increase, scientists need to develop their understanding of how this will affect river systems. The FLUMEN project studied the ecological and morphological characteristics of river channels by investigating the processes of erosion, sediment transport and deposition under changing boundary conditions described by socioeconomic and climate change scenarios.

The effects of these changes on river systems were examined at different spatial and temporal scales, with particular focus on the river channel and related slope system. Researchers studied the evolution of the river system over time and simulated future scenarios.

New innovative techniques involving remote sensing, aerial photography, GPS and statistical analysis were developed and used to quantify the different processes involved.

Project partners also provided a common infrastructure for storing and managing environmental data from the test site by creating a WebGIS database for accessing data via the project’s web page. A number of different methods were also collected and used to assess slope and river dynamics with regard to run-off and sediment budget.

This toolbox was used during field work and to develop models for monitoring and managing hillslope-river channel systems. FLUMEN studied slope processes such as soil erosion and landslides in different Eurasian river systems. These included mountain rivers in Sweden and the Kamchatka Peninsula Russia, lowland rivers in Poland and around Lake Baikal Russia, and slope systems and small river catchments in Italy and Romania.

Finally, catchment sediment sources were identified and mapped for specific sub-basins and the contribution from each source area quantified by processing remote sensing and other data using a GIS framework. Sediment transport data was also processed to determine the contribution of each sub-basin and the sediment budget calculated.

FLUMEN shared knowledge, developed new approaches and applied them in different environments.

Related information

Keywords

River systems, hydromorphology, sediment, river basin, FLUMEN
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