Drainage network structure can be described in terms of elongation or compaction by using the network diameter and magnitude. The relation between network diameter and magnitude is the topologic equivalent of the well‐known relationship between mainstream length and drainage basin area. Diameter increases with magnitude but at a decreasing rate as networks are sampled over a greater size range. Downstream variations in river network structure reflect regional geomorphic environment, erosional history, and space‐filling by tributaries of different sizes. The sequence of tributary magnitudes down a mainstream is not random. Large tributaries preempt drainage area and tend to be followed downstream by a number of small tributaries. In fluvial landscapes free from geological constraints, river networks tend to become relatively more elongate in structure with increasing size downstream.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1981
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