New Study Shows How River Systems Change Over Millions Of Years

Date

04/15/21

New research by Dr. Jeffrey Kwang (UMass Amherst, formerly a graduate student at the U of I), Dr. Abigail Langston (Kansas State), and Dr. Gary Parker (U of I) has led to new insights into why rivers form tree-like, dendritic patterns in their drainage networks. Today, river systems often form patterns that look like tree branches when viewed from far above. However, these patterns have been difficult to reproduce in numerical models, suggesting that these models are missing a key element of how river systems behave. By capturing the behavior of the lateral motion of streams, they were able to recreate the patterns we see in real rivers in these numerical models. Their work as published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Congratulations!

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Numerical models of dendritic river systems
Numerical models of dendritic river systems