The size, shape, and spacing of small-scale topographic features found on the boundaries of natural streams, rivers, and floodplains can be quite variable. Consequently, a procedure for determining the form drag on irregular sequences of different-sized topographic features is essential for calculating near-boundary flows and sediment transport. A method for carrying out such calculations is developed in this paper. This method builds on the work of Kean and Smith (2006), which describes the flow field for the simpler case of a regular sequence of identical topographic features. Both approaches model topographic features as two-dimensional elements with Gaussian-shaped cross sections defined in terms of three parameters. Field measurements of bank topography are used to show that (1) the magnitude of these shape parameters can vary greatly between adjacent topographic features and (2) the variability of these shape parameters follows a lognormal distribution. Simulations using an irregular set of topographic roughness elements show that the drag on an individual element is primarily controlled by the size and shape of the feature immediately upstream and that the spatial average of the boundary shear stress over a large set of randomly ordered elements is relatively insensitive to the sequence of the elements. In addition, a method to transform the topography of irregular surfaces into an equivalently rough surface of regularly spaced, identical topographic elements also is given. The methods described in this paper can be used to improve predictions of flow resistance in rivers as well as quantify bank roughness.
Additional publication details
Form drag in rivers due to small-scale natural topographic features: 2. Irregular sequences