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Alternative stable river bed states at high flow
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  • Sjoukje Irene de Lange,
  • Roeland C. van de Vijsel,
  • Paul J. J. F. Torfs,
  • A.J.F. (Ton) Hoitink
Sjoukje Irene de Lange
Wageningen University

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Roeland C. van de Vijsel
Hydrology and Quantitative Water Management Group
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Paul J. J. F. Torfs
independent researcher
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A.J.F. (Ton) Hoitink
Wageningen University
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River bedforms influence fluvial hydraulics by altering bed roughness. With increasing flow velocity, subaqueous bedforms transition from flat beds to ripples, dunes, and an Upper Stage Plane Bed. Although prior research notes increased bedform height variation with flow strength and rapid shifts between bed configurations, the latter remains understudied. This study reanalyzes data from earlier experiments, and reveals a bimodal distribution of dune heights emerges beyond a transport stage of 18. Dune heights flicker between a low and high alternative state, indicating critical transitions. Potentially triggered by local sediment outbursts, these shifts lead to dune formation before returning to an Upper Stage Plane Bed. This flickering behavior challenges the adequacy of a single snapshot to capture the system's state, impacting field measurements and experimental designs, and questions the classical equilibrium equations. This study calls for further research to understand and quantify flickering behavior in sediment beds at high transport stages.
21 Dec 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
21 Dec 2023Published in ESS Open Archive