Observational evidence is presented on the geometry of meandering tidal channels evolved within coastal wetlands characterized by different tidal, hydrodynamic, topographic, vegetational and ecological features. New insight is provided on the geometrical properties of tidal meanders, with possible dynamic implications on their evolution. In particular, it is shown that large spatial gradients of leading flow rates induce important spatial variabilities of meander wavelengths and widths, while their ratio remains remarkably constant in the range of scales of observation. This holds regardless of changes in width and wavelength up to two orders of magnitude. This suggests a locally adapted evolution, involving the morphological adjustment to the chief landforming events driven by local hydrodynamics. The spectral analysis of local curvatures reveals that Kinoshita's model curve does not fit tidal meanders due to the presence of even harmonics, in particular the second mode. Geometric parameters are constructed that are suitable to detect possible geomorphic signatures of the transitions from ebb- to flood-dominated hydrodynamics, here related to the skewness of the tidal meander. Trends in skewness, however, prove elusive to measure and fail to show detectable patterns. We also study comparatively the spatial patterns of evolution of the ratios of channel width to depth, and the ratio of width to local radius of curvature. Interestingly, the latter ratio exhibits consistency despite sharp differences in channel incision. Since the degree of incision, epitomized by the width-to-depth ratio, responds to the relevant erosion and migrations mechanisms and is much sensitive to vegetation and sediment properties, it is noticeable that we observe a great variety of landscape carving modes and yet recurrent planar features like constant width/curvature and wavelength/width ratios.
Marani, M; Lanzoni, S; Zandolin, D; Seminara, G; Rinaldo, A
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