To plug-in or not to plug-in? Geomorphic analysis of rivers using the River Styles Framework in an era of big data acquisition and automation

Kirstie A. Fryirs, Joseph M. Wheaton, Simone Bizzi, Richard Williams, Gary J. Brierley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In an era of big-data acquisition and semiautomation of geomorphic river surveys, it is timely to consider how to better integrate this into existing and widely used conceptual frameworks and approaches to analysis.We demonstrate how Stage 1 of the River Styles Framework, which entails identification and interpretation of river character and behavior, patterns and controls, can be used as a “powerboard” into which available, developing and future semiautomated tools and workflows can be plugged (or unplugged). Prospectively, such approaches will increase the efficiency and scope of analyses, providing unprecedented insights into the diversity of rivers and their morphodynamics. We appraise the role of human decision-making in conducting expert-manual analyses and interpretations. Genuine integration of big-data analytics, remote-sensing based tools for semiautomated river analysis with expert-manual interpretations including field insights, will be an essential ingredient to fully exploit emerging computational and remote sensing technologies to advance our understanding of river systems, to translate information into knowledge, and raise the standards of practice in river science and management.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1372
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. Water
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019



  • fluvial geomorphology
  • geomorphic change detection
  • hydromorphology
  • river diversity
  • river restoration

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