UAV-based evaluation of morphological changes induced by extreme rainfall events in meandering rivers

Akay S. S., Özcan O., Sanli F. B., Görüm T., Şen Ö. L., BAYRAM B.

PLOS ONE, vol.15, no.11, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 11
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1371/journal.pone.0241293
  • Journal Name: PLOS ONE
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Animal Behavior Abstracts, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Linguistic Bibliography, MEDLINE, Pollution Abstracts, Psycinfo, zbMATH, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Morphological changes, caused by the erosion and deposition processes due to water discharge and sediment flux occur, in the banks along the river channels and in the estuaries. Flow rate is one of the most important factors that can change river morphology. The geometric shapes of the meanders and the river flow parameters are crucial components in the areas where erosion or deposition occurs in the meandering rivers. Extreme precipitation triggers erosion on the slopes, which causes significant morphological changes in large areas during and after the event. The flow and sediment amount observed in a river basin with extreme precipitation increases and exceeds the long-term average value. Hereby, erosion severity can be determined by performing spatial analyses on remotely sensed imagery acquired before and after an extreme precipitation event. Changes of erosion and deposition along the river channels and overspill channels can be examined by comparing multi-temporal Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) based Digital Surface Model (DSM) data. In this study, morphological changes in the Buyuk Menderes River located in the western Turkey, were monitored with pre-flood (June 2018), during flood (January 2019), and post-flood (September 2019) UAV surveys, and the spatial and volumetric changes of eroded/deposited sediment were quantified. For this purpose, the DSAS (Digital Shoreline Analysis System) method and the DEM of Difference (DoD) method were used to determine the changes on the riverbank and to compare the periodic volumetric morphological changes. Hereby, Structure from Motion (SfM) photogrammetry technique was exploited to a low-cost UAV derived imagery to achieve riverbank, areal and volumetric changes following the extreme rainfall events extracted from the time series of Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite data. The change analyses were performed to figure out the periodic morphodynamic variations and the impact of the flood on the selected meandering structures. In conclusion, although the river water level increased by 0.4-5.9 meters with the flood occurred in January 2019, the sediment deposition areas reformed after the flood event, as the water level decreased. Two-year monitoring revealed that the sinuosity index (SI) values changed during the flood approached the pre-flood values over time. Moreover, it was observed that the amount of the deposited sediments in September 2019 approached that of June 2018.