Basic Interdisciplinary River Morphodynamics – 1st Edition – River Bars

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General information

River morphodynamics has been traditionally investigated by groups of researchers belonging to different disciplines, mainly from hydraulic engineering, fluid mechanics, river geomorphology and physical geography. Integration of these approaches is increasing in recent years, and still a strong potential exist for such interdisciplinary research to gain comprehensive quantitative insight into processes, forms, basic physical mechanisms and their mutual linkages to improve our understanding of river behavior.

River morphodynamics is a vast topic, which includes a broad variety of fluvial forms that evolve dynamically at many different spatial and temporal scales. River bars are the key process conveying information of 2D morphological change along river corridors, and "fundamentally define the style and morphology of unconfined alluvial rivers" (Church and Rice, ESPL, 2009). The central aim of the course is to show how the integration of different techniques, methods and approaches can lead to a comprehensive insight into river morphodynamics. For this reason, the basic strategy of this course is to focus on one specific pattern, i.e. alternate bars in channelized streams, a subset of river bars that can be viewed as representative of many other patterns evolving at different time and spatial scales. 

This allows to address the chosen morphodynamic problem from multiple perspectives and to illustrate the related methodologies, namely from the viewpoint of the fluid mechanics researcher, of the fluvial geomorphologist and of the numerical modeler. The course starts on Monday, October 27 at 9.30am and finishes Friday, October 31 at 2pm.


  • Review of basics in open channel flow, sediment transport and river morphodynamics
  • Analytical theories of river bars: an overview of assumptions and outcomes
  • Step-by-step development of a linear stability analysis for free bars in straight channels
  • Bars in real rivers: processes, forms and implications for river behavior
  • How to reproduce the dynamics of alternate bars in a numerical morphodynamic model
Learning outcome:

At the end of the course, participants are expected to:

  • Have developed a basic understanding of multiple approaches to the investigation of river bars and, more in general, to river morphodynamics
  • Have learned the “machinery” that lays behind the linear stability analysis of free bars, and, more in general, behind linear stability analyses in morphodynamic problems
  • Have understood how alternate bars can be simulated with a state-of-art numerical morphodynamic model.
Contact Person: Secretariat of the School (


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Free of charge.


This course is targeted to graduate students with a background in fluid mechanics, civil and environmental engineering, physical geography, environmental and physical sciences. Young scientists and professionals with an interest in increasing their knowledge of river morphodynamics. A basic knowledge of the following is required:

  • Basic calculus, particularly ordinary and partial differential equations
  • Basic of fluid mechanics, particularly equations for momentum and mass conservation
  • (preferred) Basic knowledge of sediment transport processes and fundamental equations

Application Procedure:

To register, please send an email and CV to


Academic level: Master, PhD, Lifelong Learning

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