TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Towards an objective approach for a regional - continental scale geomorphic river classification

TitleTowards an objective approach for a regional - continental scale geomorphic river classification
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsSpencer, J, Brooks, A, Knight, J
Conference Name5th Australian Stream Management Conference, 21-25 May 2007
Date Published05/2007
PublisherInstitute for Land,Water and Society, Charles Sturt University
Conference LocationAlbury, Australia
ISBN Number978-0-646-47479-3
KeywordsCape York, classification, DEM, Fluvial geomorphology, GIS

River classification schemes are now widely used by a range of government agencies, managers and researchers to help reach an understanding of river form and process among the geomorphic complexity found in river channels, as a basis for understanding ecosystem patch dynamics and connections, and as means of organising and prioritising research and management activities. With some exceptions, existing schemas are generally qualitative, relying largely on expert judgement to delineate “homogeneous geomorphic reaches” for a specific river, from field, GIS, and/or remotely sensed data. In this paper, we demonstrate that continuous data for a number of morphological metrics can be derived relatively cheaply from available remotely sensed and GIS data, as a basis for a regional to continental geomorphic river classification. This approach is intended as a “proof of concept” for further development into a classification approach that can be applied across Northern Australia. Others have used many of the metrics used here in one form or another, however, they are rarely derived as continuous data throughout the drainage network. A test of the derived metrics against an existing classification within the Mitchell River in the Gulf of Carpentaria suggest that most existing reach classes can be discriminated within the derived metrics.