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Medium and short-term channel planform changes on the Rivers Tay and Tummel, Scotland

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0169-555x(00)00007-6
  • Channel Planform Change
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Floods
  • Flood Embankments
  • Scottish Rivers


Abstract Channel planform change was analysed using a variety of data-sources for the medium-term (>25 years and <250 years) and short-term (<25 years) on a reach of the Rivers Tay and Tummel, Scotland. Map data were input into a Geographic Information System (GIS) and used to determine planform characteristics and changes in width, braiding index and sinuosity for the study reach between 1755 and 1976. Aerial photographs were utilised to determine the more recent changes that had taken place between 1971 and 1994. The analysis showed that significant changes had occurred over the medium term with a mean reduction in channel width of 34% for this period. These changes are comparable to those found in studies of similar European rivers for this period. Changes determined for the short-term displayed a continuance of this trend at a comparable rate of change. An analysis of flood frequency and magnitude, precipitation and discharge records for both periods does not show an associated decrease and therefore does not reflect the changes in channel planform. Evidence points towards flood embankment construction in the mid-1800s as the initial cause of channel change for the study reach which was later exacerbated by flow regulation. Incision and the subsequent stabilisation of lateral and mid-channel gravel bars by vegetation succession has resulted in an overall increase in the stability of the study reach which has persisted even where the embankments have fallen into disrepair.

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