pyRiverBed: A Python framework to generate synthetic riverbed topography for constant-width meandering rivers

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Meandering is one of the unique processes in Earth surface dynamics. Since the 1960s, fluvial geomorphologists have generalized numerous widely-acknowledged empirical or semi-empirical formulae to describe meandering rivers' characteristics. The most frequently applied one is the Kinoshita high-sinuosity curve to describe meander channel planform geometry. Combining the Kinoshita curve with the Beck equations to describe the riverbed topography at equilibrium state, a prototype of a synthetic riverbed topography generating model is made for idealized meandering rivers. Such a method can be readily extended and applied to arbitrary meandering rivers in the real world, resulting in the synthetic riverbed topography model, pyRiverBed, presented herein. A meander migration and neck cutoff submodel is also embedded in pyRiverBed. Unlike existing linear and non-linear bend theory-based models, pyRiverbed aims towards generating the riverbed topography for each snapshot during the migration process. The present model can facilitate meandering river researchers to interpolate their field-measured bathymetric data using the synthetic bed, design their non-flat bed laboratory flumes for experiments, and initialize their hydrodynamic and morphodynamic numerical models. It can also provide guidance in stream restoration projects on designing a channel with a morphodynamic equilibrium bed. The quality of generated synthetic bed topography is evaluated through the comparison against both laboratory experiment data and field-measured data. The meander migration submodel is validated using a real-world channel migration and neck cutoff event. The validation results prove that the synthetic riverbed's accuracy is reasonably good, and the meander migration submodel can successfully predict meander migration and neck cutoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104755
JournalComputers and Geosciences
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Meander migration
  • Meandering river
  • Python
  • Riverbed
  • Sediment bar
  • Synthetic topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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