Video observations of bed form morphodynamics in a meander bend

Margaret L. Palmsten, Jessica L. Kozarek, Joseph Calantoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A new optical remote sensing technique for estimating water depth from an oblique camera view is described. The water surface and the bed were imaged simultaneously to create time-dependent maps of the water surface velocities and the bed elevations that can be used to validate numerical models at high spatial and temporal resolution. The technique was applied in a sandy meander bend at the University of Minnesota Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory Outdoor StreamLab. The root mean square differences between optical estimates of the bed and in situ observations ranged between 0.01 and 0.03 m. Mean bed form wavelength was 0.73 m and mean crest height was 0.07 m, but both varied with distance around the meander bend. Bed form classification varied with distance downstream, and sinuosity of bed forms varied with local radius of curvature. Bed form roughness scaled similarly to other natural riverine environments although wavelength and height magnitude and variability were larger than predicted by empirical formulations for straight reaches. Bed form translation rate varied between 1 and 5 mm s-1. Estimates of velocity from particle image velocimetry (PIV) on the water surface were ∼10% higher than in situ observations collected ∼0.05 m below the water surface. Using the PIV observations to drive simple equations for bed load sediment flux, we explained up to 72% of the observed variance in downstream sediment flux. The new methodology described here provides nonintrusive, high spatial and temporal resolution measurements of both the bed and the flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7238-7257
Number of pages20
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • Bed load
  • bed form migration
  • bed forms
  • meander bend
  • sediment flux


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