Ahead of the curve. Channel pattern formation oflow-energy rivers
In the last decades, realization has grown that channelization of rivers results in loss of ecological niches. Therefore, rivers worldwide are currently being restored. One of the most used restoration measures in small, low-energy rivers is to re- meander the river channel pattern, often by mimicking the sinuous pattern from before channelization. However, it remains largely unknown how sinuous patterns of low-energy rivers naturally form and develop with time. Based on this thesis it appears that the sinuous pattern has hardly anything to do with meandering.
The aim of this doctoral thesis is to understand and predict the channel pattern formation of low-energy rivers. For different types of rivers I reconstructed the development of the river channel over the last ca. 10.000 years, by using coring, ground- penetrating radar and the dating of sediments. The bank strength was identified as a key forming factor of the channel pattern, and incorporated in a newly developed tool that helps water managers to predict how rivers will develop with time. River restoration can benefit from the insights of this research and focus on restoring natural processes of low-energy rivers in a scientifically sound way.