Shapes of river networks
Author(s)Yi, Robert Sngho; Arredondo, Álvaro; Stansifer, Eric Marshall; Rothman, Daniel H.
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River network scaling laws describe how their shape varies with their size. However, the regional variation of this size-dependence remains poorly understood. Here we show that river network scaling laws vary systematically with the climatic aridity index. We find that arid basins do not change their proportions with size, while humid basins do. To explore why, we study an aspect ratio L /L ∥ between basin width L and basin length L ∥. We find that the aspect ratio exhibits a dependence on climate and argue that this can be understood as a structural consequence of the confluence angle. We then find that, in humid basins, the aspect ratio decreases with basin size, which we attribute to a common hydrogeological hierarchy. Our results offer an explanation of the variability in network scaling exponents and suggest that the absence of self-similarity in humid basins can be understood as a morphological expression of subsurface processes.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
The Royal Society
Yi, Robert S. et al. “Shapes of river networks.” Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 474, 2215 (July 2018): 20180081 © 2018 The Author(s)
Author's final manuscript