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Channel response to a new hydrological regime in southwestern Australia

Callow, J.N. and Smettem, K.R.J. (2007) Channel response to a new hydrological regime in southwestern Australia. Geomorphology, 84 (3-4). pp. 254-276.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.01.043
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Abstract

The Kent River flows from semi-arid headwaters in the agricultural (wheatbelt) region of Western Australia to a wetter and forested lower-catchment. It is set in an atypical fluvial environment, with rainfall decreasing inland towards a low-relief upper catchment. Replacement of native deep-rooted perennial vegetation with shallow-rooted seasonal crops has altered the hydrology of the upper catchment. Clearing for agriculture has also increased recharge of regional groundwater systems causing groundwater to rise and mobilise salt stores. This has increased stream salinity which has degradation riparian vegetation and decreased flow resistance. Elevated groundwater has also affected streamflow, increasing flow duration and annual discharge. The altered hydrological regime has affected geomorphic stability, resulting in channel responses that include incision and removal of uncohesive material. Channel response is variable, showing a high dependence on channel morphotype, channel boundary material and severity of salinity (degree of vegetation degradation). Response in confined reaches bounded by sandy material has been characterised by minor lateral bank erosion. In the fine-grained, wider, low-gradient reaches, mid-channel islands have been stripped of sandy sediment where vegetation has degraded. Following an initial period of high erosion rates in these reaches, the channel is now slowly adjusting to a new set of boundary conditions. The variable response has significant implications for management of salt affected rivers in southwestern Australia.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2006 Elsevier B.V.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/37752
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