Impacts of urbanization on river system structure: a case study on Qinhuai River Basin, Yangtze River Delta

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Stream structure is usually dominated by various human activities over a short term. An analysis of variation in stream structure from 1979 to 2009 in the Qinhuai River Basin, China, was performed based on remote sensing images and topographic maps by using ArcGIS. A series of river parameters derived from river geomorphology are listed to describe the status of river structure in the past and present. Results showed that urbanization caused a huge increase in the impervious area. The number of rivers in the study area has decreased and length of rivers has shortened. Over the 30 years, there was a 41.03% decrease in river length. Complexity and stability of streams have also changed and consequently the storage capacities of river channels in intensively urbanized areas are much lower than in moderately urbanized areas, indicating a greater risk of floods. Therefore, more attention should be paid to the urban disturbance to rivers.

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