RiMARS: An automated river morphodynamics analysis method based on remote sensing multispectral datasets

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jun 1;719:137336. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137336. Epub 2020 Feb 15.


Assessment and monitoring of river morphology own an important role in river engineering; since, changes in river morphology including erosion and sedimentation affect river cross-sections and flow processes. An approach for River Morphodynamics Analysis based on Remote Sensing (RiMARS) was developed and tested on the case of Mollasadra dam construction on the Kor River, Iran. Landsat multispectral images obtained from the open USGS dataset are used to extract river morphology dynamics by the Modified Normalized Difference Water Index (MNDWI). RiMARS comes with a river extraction module which is independent of threshold segmentation methods to produce binary-level images. In addition, RiMARS is equipped with developed indices for assessing the morphological alterations. Five characteristics of river morphology (spatiotemporal Sinuosity Index (SI), Absolute Centerline Migration (ACM), Rate of Centerline Migration (RCM), River Linear Pattern (RLP), and Meander Migration Index (MMI)), are applied to quantify river morphology changes. The results indicated that the Kor River centerline underwent average annual migration of 40 cm to the southwest during 1993-2003 (pre-construction impact), 20 cm to the northeast during 2003-2011, and 40 cm to the south-west during 2011-2017 (post-construction impact). Spatially, as the Kor River runs towards the Doroudzan dam, changes in river morphology have increased from upstream to downstream; particularly evident where the river flows in a plain instead of the valley. Based on SI values, there was a 5% change in the straight sinuosity class in the pre-construction period, but an 18% decrease in the straight class during the post-construction period. Here we demonstrate the application of RiMARS in assessing the impact of dam construction on morphometric processes in Kor River, but it can be used to assess other riverine changes, including tracking the unauthorized water consumption using diverted canals. RiMARS can be applied on multispectral images.

Keywords: Environmental monitoring; Iran; Landsat; MNDWI; Multispectral image; RiMARS; River migration; Sediments; Sinuosity index.