The Role of Bed Morphology and Channel Curvature on the Redistribution of Momentum in a Series of Meander Bends, Pearl River, USA

Kory Konsoer, Taylor Rowley, Bruce Rhoads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three primary driving factors are responsible for the lateral flux of streamwise momentum within meander bends: topographic steering of the flow related to changes in channel morphology, rapid changes in channel curvature, and curvature-driven helical motion. While these factors have been studied previously, their relative contributions to the net redistribution of streamwise momentum within a series of consecutive bends have not yet been fully documented. This study explores the relative contributions of these three mechanisms to the redistribution of streamwise momentum using three-dimensional velocity data obtained along six consecutive meander bends on the Pearl River (Louisiana, USA) for two different discharges. The magnitudes of lateral momentum flux are systematically compared to spatial series of channel width, bed shape, and channel curvature to elucidate the interactions between channel form and flow structure. Results show that the lateral flux of streamwise momentum is primarily driven by topographic steering with values of momentum flux due to curvature-driven secondary circulation on average an order of magnitude less than values of flux related to topographic steering. The spatial patterns of the lateral flux components show that momentum redistribution due to topographic steering is highest at the entrance to the bend, and momentum redistribution due to secondary circulation is typically highest downstream of the apex. The results of this study emphasize the important role that interaction between process and form plays in dynamics of natural meandering rivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023WR034804
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • fluvial geomorphology
  • helical flow
  • high-velocity core
  • meandering rivers
  • momentum redistribution
  • topographic steering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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