The extent and pattern of width variations along a meandering channel and its association with variation in bed topography and development of mid-channel bars have been examined through field survey evidence for a reach of the River Bollin in NW England. The wet width has been quantified along the reach by applying a hydraulic model to surveyed cross sections under a range of discharges between low flow and defined bankfull conditions. This approach allows an objective, modelling-based method to compute channel width. The high spatial resolution of the topographical survey allows capture of significant variations in the cross-sectional morphology at the meander wavelength scale. Results disclose some features of longitudinal and stage-dependent width variability in meanders. Width variation is shown to be highly correlated with curvature: at bankfull conditions width peaks in bend apex sections exceed those at inflection sections and can be up to twice greater. The width-curvature behavior is correlated with the pattern of bed and banks morphology, which is different in bend apices and in meander inflections. The survey shows that the bedform morphology can be characterized by a mid-channel bar pattern that is initiated at the inflection section and that the bedform dynamics can be closely associated with channel width variations. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.
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