2014 journal article
ESTIMATING ANNUAL RIVERBANK EROSION RATES-A DENDROGEOMORPHIC METHOD
RIVER RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS, 30(7), 845–856.
An accurate estimation of riverbank erosion rates is critical for the evaluation of the past, present, and future sediment regime of river systems. Understanding these relationships allows watershed managers and regulators to prioritize river restoration and contaminated site remediation projects. In this dendrogeomorphic study, changes in the anatomy of tree roots exposed between 1 and 31 years were used to estimate the average annual erosion rates of riverbank sediments on a large river in Michigan, USA. Exposed root samples from diffuse and ring-porous hardwoods, together with buried ones as controls, were analyzed. Differences in the arrangement, size and frequency of vessels, fiber diameter, cell wall thickness, growth ring width, and scarring between the exposed and the buried samples were used to identify the first year of root exposure. Results of the regression analysis between the average annual erosion rate and the Bank Erosion Hazard Index (BEHI) indicated that the more recently exposed roots (less than 7 years in this study) explained more of the variance (R2 = 0.67) than when all samples were included (R2 = 0.38). Although the average erosion rates for long periods can be accurately determined from the dating of exposed tree roots, attempts to relate these rates using the BEHI for longer periods are less successful, as BEHI values can vary considerably over time as the riverbank erodes. Consequently, when using exposed tree roots to develop regression equations and erosion rate curves for the estimation of erosion rates based on BEHI scores, it is necessary to use roots that were recently exposed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.