Investigating a floodplain scaling relation using a hydrogeomorphic delineation method

Fernando Nardi, Enrique Vivoni, Salvatore Grimaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Floodplains are critical landscape features that are highly distinguished from neighboring uplands in terms of their hydrologic, geomorphologic, biogeochemical, and ecological processes. Thus an essential step in floodplain studies is the determination of the lateral floodplain extent and its variability within a basin. Recent advances in topographic mapping and GIS-based analysis provide a means for developing automated techniques to determine floodplain extent. In this study, we propose a hydrogeomorphic floodplain delineation which links a simplified inundation algorithm with the river basin properties. We utilize the method to investigate the physical controls on floodplain formation, as captured by scaling relations between floodplain width and contributing area. Our hypothesis is that an efficient delineation grounded in hydrogeomorphic theory can improve our understanding of floodplain geometry across a range of conditions. We test the method for two distinct watersheds, a humid catchment in Italy and an ephemeral basin in New Mexico, and note the existence of power law scaling of the floodplain width after averaging over stream orders. An analysis of the algorithm parameters is conducted to identify possible limitations. Further systematic tests are needed to establish the generality of the floodplain scaling and its control on floodplain processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume42
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

floodplains
Catchments
floodplain
Scaling laws
Watersheds
Geographic information systems
Rivers
methodology
Geometry
method
basins
physical control
topographic mapping
basin
power law
highlands
river basin
Italy
GIS
testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Water Science and Technology

Cite this

Investigating a floodplain scaling relation using a hydrogeomorphic delineation method. / Nardi, Fernando; Vivoni, Enrique; Grimaldi, Salvatore.

In: Water Resources Research, Vol. 42, No. 9, 09.2006.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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