Food disasters in many parts of the world have brought into sharp focus new research spearheaded by the University of Leicester on the behaviour of rivers during periods of high flow.
Using an innovative combination of techniques, the researchers aim to examine precisely how the flow of river water affects the movement of sediment along river beds. They will use lasers to measure changes in the bed of an artificial water channel to devise new techniques that will help predict sediment erosion and deposition in rivers - and thereby identify areas where action should be taken to avert damage to infrastructure such as bridges, road and rail links and power and pipe lines.
Led by Dr Mark Powell from the University of Leicester Department of Geography, the research is being supported by a 604,000 grant from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Partners in the study are Dr Nick Tate, also from the University of Leicester, Dr Stephen Rice and Professor Ian Reid of Loughborough University and Dr Jo Wood of City University, London. The research aims to enhance scientists' understanding of how sediment is carried in rivers during a flood.
Dr Powell said: "Our research is largely associated with the transport of coarse-grained sediment.
"In these types of rivers, the gravel and pebbles which make up the bed and banks move by rolling, sliding or bouncing along the stream bed. Movement of this size of sediment is associated with problems of the stability of the river channel and can have serious environmental and social effects. In cases where large amounts of sediment are deposited from a stream into a river, this can lead to loss of river channel capacity and increase the probability of flooding to adjacent land and properties. On the other hand, where excessive amounts of sediment are washed away from river, there is a risk that banks and bridge piers may collapse.
"The laboratory tests will improve our u
|Contact: Dr Mark Powell|
University of Leicester