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01.01.2014 | Ausgabe 1/2014

Environmental Management 1/2014

Channel Characteristics and Planform Dynamics in the Indian Terai, Sharda River

Zeitschrift:
Environmental Management > Ausgabe 1/2014
Autoren:
Neha Midha, Pradeep K. Mathur

Abstract

The Sharda River creates and maintains the ecologically diverse remnant patches of rare Terai ecosystem in northern India. This study used repeat satellite imagery and geographic information system analysis to assess the planform dynamics along a 60 km length of the Sharda River between 1977 and 2001 to understand the altered dynamics and its plausible causes in this data-poor region. Analyses revealed that the Sharda River has undergone significant change corresponding to enhanced instability in terms of increased number of neck cut-offs and consistent occurrence of avulsions in subsequent shorter assessment periods. An increased channel area (8 %), decreased sinuosity (15 %), increased braiding intensity, and abrupt migrations were also documented. The river has migrated toward the east with its west bankline being more unstable. The maximum shifts were 2.85 km in 13 years (1977–1990), 2.33 km in next 9 years (1990–1999), and a substantial shift of 2.39 km in just 2 years (1999–2001). The altered dynamics is making the future of critical wildlife habitats in Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary and North Kheri Forest Division precarious and causing significant economic damage. Extensive deforestation and expansion of agriculture since the 1950s in the catchment area are presumed to have severely impacted the equilibrium of the river, which urgently needs a management plan including wildlife habitat conservation, control, and risk reduction. The present study provides a strong foundation for understanding channel changes in the Sharda River and the finding can serve as a valuable information base for effective management planning and ecological restoration.

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