Geography & Environment Publications


Recent (1995-1998) Canadian Research on Contemporary Processes of River Erosion and Sedimentation, and River Mechanics

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Hydrological Processes

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URL with Digital Object Identifier<1687::AID-HYP72>3.0.CO;2-9


Canadian research on contemporary erosion and sedimentation processes covers a wide range of scales, processes, approaches and environmental problems. This review of recent research focuses on the themes of sediment yield, land-use impact, fine-sediment transport, bed material transport and river morphology and numerical modelling of fluvial landscape development.

Research on sediment yield and denudation has confirmed that Canadian rivers are often dominated by riparian sediment sources. Studies of the effects of forestry on erosion, in-stream sedimentation and habitat are prominent, including major field experimental studies in coastal and central British Columbia. Studies of fine-sediment transport mechanisms have focused on the composition of particles and the dynamics of flocculation. In fluvial dynamics there have been important contributions to problems of turbulence-scale flow structure and entrainment processes, and the characteristics of bedload transport in gravel-bed rivers. Although much of the work has been empirical and field-based, results of numerical modelling of denudational processes and landscape development also have begun to appear.

The nature of research in Canada is driven by the progress of the science internationally, but also by the nature of the Canadian landscape, its history and resource exploitation. Yet knowledge of Canadian rivers is still limited, and problems of, for example, large pristine rivers or rivers in cold climates, remain unexplored. Research on larger scale issues of sediment transfer or the effects of hydrological change is now hampered by reductions in national monitoring programmes. This also will make it difficult to test theory and assess modelling results. Monitoring has been replaced by project- and issues-based research, which has yielded some valuable information on river system processes and opened opportunities for fluvial scientists. However, future contributions will depend on our ability to continue with fundamental fluvial science while fulfilling the management agenda.