Magnitude and frequency analysis on river width widening caused by Typhoon Morakot in the Kaoping River watershed, Taiwan

Friday, 19 December 2014
Ssu-Yao Yang, Chyan-Deng Jan and Yen-Cheng Wang, NCKU National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
Active evolving rivers are some of the most dynamic and sensitive parts of landscapes. From geologic and geomorphic perspectives, a stable river channel can adjust its width, depth, and slope to prevent significant aggradation or degradation caused by external triggers, e.g., hydrologic events caused by typhoon storms. In particular, the processes of lateral riverbank erosion play a majorly important role in forming horizontal river geomorphology, dominating incised river widens and meanders. Sediment materials produced and mobilized from riverbanks can also be substantial sediment supplying into river channel networks, affecting watershed sediment yield. In Taiwan, the geological and climatic regimes usually combine to generate severely lateral erosion and/or riverbed deposition along river channels, causing the significant change in river width. In the August of 2009, Typhoon Morakot brought severe rainfall of about 2000 mmin Southern Taiwan during three days at the beginning of Aug. 5, leading to significant changes in geomorphic system. Here we characterized river width widening (including Cishan, Laonong, and Ilao Rivers) in the Kaoping River watershed after Typhoon Morakot disturbance interpreted through a power law. On the basis of a temporal pair (2008 and 2009) of Formosat-II (Formosa satellite II) images analysis, the river channels were digitalized within geographic information system (GIS), and river widths were extracted per 100 m along the rivers, then differentiating the adjustment of river width before and after Typhoon Morkot. The river width adjusted from -83 m (contracting) to 1985 m (widening), with an average of 170 m. The noncumulative frequency-magnitude distribution for river width adjustment caused by Typhoon Morakot in the study area satisfies a power-law relation with a determined coefficient (r2) of 0.95, over the range from 65 m to 2373m in the study area. Moreover, the value of the power-law exponent is equal to -2.09. This pattern suggests that river channel widening caused by large, infrequent hydrologic episodes has self-organized criticality. This study can provide useful information to river and watershed management, thereby refining the prevention and mitigation of hazard risks due to the effect of river width widening.