Resetting the river template: the potential for climate-related extreme floods to transform river geomorphology and ecology

Death, Russell G. and Fuller, Ian C. and Macklin, Mark (2015) Resetting the river template: the potential for climate-related extreme floods to transform river geomorphology and ecology. Freshwater Biology, 60 (12). pp. 2477-2496. ISSN 2477–2496

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Abstract

1. Climate change is expected to alter the occurrence of extreme climatic events, including major
floods. Future shifts in the frequency and intensity of extreme floods will vary by region and could
modify the geomorphological character of riverine habitat.
2. The geomorphological structure of rivers determines the quality and quantity of habitat available
for resident biota, and thus, changes to morphology from more extreme floods are likely to affect
river ecology over and above the direct effects of the flood events themselves.
3. Extreme floods can exacerbate the effect of multiple anthropogenic stressors, with potentially dramatic
effects on freshwater ecosystems. For instance, high flows mobilise nutrients, sediment and
toxic chemicals, and aid dispersal of invasive species, whereas land-use change and channelisation
impair flood refugia and constrain recolonisation pathways.
4. Extreme floods may also benefit riverine and riparian biota, overwhelming current anthropogenic
constraints and infrastructure to increase habitat complexity and floodplain area.
5. Management to protect human life and infrastructure from severe river flooding can alter channel
geomorphology, habitat quality and ecology. However, flood prevention engineering that incorporates
the natural form of rivers could potentially mitigate anthropogenic flood damage, in turn
restoring habitat and historical ecosystem functioning.
6. We examine potential changes in river channel and floodplain geomorphological characteristics
resulting from altered extreme flooding regimes and consider likely implications for the management
of the world’s freshwater biota.

Additional Information:Special Issue: EXTREME EVENTS IN RUNNING WATERS
Keywords:climate change, extreme climate events, floods, geomorphology, habitat template, river engineering, river systems
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F840 Physical Geography
F Physical Sciences > F810 Environmental Geography
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:31608
Deposited On:17 Apr 2018 12:54

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