Semicentennial Response of a Bifurcation Region in an Engineered River to Peak Flows and Human Interventions

M. Kifayath Chowdhury*, Astrid Blom, Clàudia Ylla Arbós, Merel C. Verbeek, Max H.I. Schropp, Ralph M.J. Schielen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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A bifurcation in an engineered river system (i.e., fixed planform and width) has fewer degrees of freedom in its response to interventions and natural changes than a natural bifurcation system. Our objective is to provide insight into how a bifurcation in an engineered river responds to peak flows and human interventions. To this end, we analyze the change in hydraulics, bed level, and bed surface grain size in the region of two bifurcations in the upper Rhine delta in the Netherlands over the last century. We show that, over the last two decades, the water discharge in one bifurcate (the Waal branch) has steadily increased at the expense of the other. This gradual increase in the water discharge of the first branch is associated with its erosion rate being larger than the other branch. The quick succession of two or three peak flow events (1993, 1995, and 1998) caused rapid sediment deposition over the upstream part of the bifurcate that has gradually lost discharge, which seems to have triggered the slow change in flow partitioning.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022WR032741
Number of pages21
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • River bifurcation
  • Rhine River
  • Netherlands
  • Flow partitioning
  • Peak flow
  • Engineered Rivers
  • Tipping point
  • Gravel bed rivers
  • Upper Rhine delta
  • Flood


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