Scale-Dependent Bedform Migration and Deformation in the Physical and Spectral Domains

Jiyong Lee, Mirko Musa, Michele Guala

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4 Scopus citations


Multi-scale bathymetries observed in laboratory channels and natural rivers have posed several challenges to the description of bedform geometry and kinematics. To better quantify scale-dependent migration velocity, high resolution spatio-temporal bed evolution data are analyzed using three independent methods: (i) a bedform tracking method that identifies individual bedforms in longitudinal bed elevation profiles, (ii) a cross-correlation based, image matching technique in consecutive bathymetry scans similar to Particle Image Velocimetry, and (iii) two-dimensional frequency-wavenumber spectra marking a dispersion relation between bedform period and length, allowing estimation of Fourier-based, scale-dependent migration velocities. The comparative studies show that the spectral and bedform tracking methods present small differences in the migration velocity of medium-large bedforms. However, significant deviations occur in the small bedforms, mostly due to bedform sheltering or amplified exposure to the flow, which also contribute to their enhanced scale-dependent deformation. The analysis also shows that some form of scale separation is needed to extract the large and slowly migrating bedforms as they are masked by secondary features when several bedform orders coexist. Bathymetric Image Velocimetry reasonably estimates the averaged migration velocity and exhibits potential to study relations between spanwise bed surface velocity and local bedform kinematics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JF005811
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was sponsored by National Science Foundation (NSF) Career Grant Geophysical Flow Control (Michele Guala, Grant No. 1351303). We also appreciate Editor Dr. East, Associate Editor Prof. Dey, Dr. Naqshband, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments that improved the quality of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Geophysical Union. This manuscript has been authored in part by UT-Battelle, LLC, under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725 with the US Department of Energy (DOE). The US government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the US government retains a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this manuscript, or allow others to do so, for US government purposes. DOE will provide public access to these results of federally sponsored research in accordance with the DOE Public Access Plan (


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