The study of channel networks has been dominated since 1966 by the random model. However, recent work has shown (1) that although the topological properties of small networks conform to the random model more closely than those of large ones, even small networks exhibit systematic deviations from topological randomness and (2) that the topological and length properties of channel networks are controlled to a large degree by the spatial requirements of subbasins and the need for these subbasins to fit together in space, by the size, sinuosity, and migration rate of valley bends, and by the length and steepness of valley sides. The factors that control the density properties of channel networks vary with the scale of the investigation and the geomorphic processes governing channel initiation. Although progress has been made toward a satisfactory stream junction angle model, further work is needed. The evolution of channel networks has been investigated by a variety of methods, including the development of conceptual and simulation models, the monitoring of small‐scale badland and experimental drainage basins, and the substitution of space for time. The morphology of most channel networks is largely inherited from the past or strongly influenced by inherited forms. Inasmuch as there is no way of ever knowing the origin or complex history of such networks, the use of stochastic models in their study seems unavoidable.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Feb 1, 1984
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