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UBC Theses and Dissertations

UAV-based remote sensing of fluvial hydrogeomorphology and aquatic habitat dynamics Tamminga, Aaron


Recent advances in methodological and theoretical approaches in fluvial sciences have given rise to increased interest in riverscape perspectives that embrace environmental variability and spatial relationships. These approaches facilitate interdisciplinary understanding of complex fluvial processes that supports conscientious management of river systems. In this context, this dissertation presents the development and application of novel methods to study fluvial structure and eco-hydrogeomorphic relationships. Specifically, the research addresses three main questions: (1) how can UAV-based remote sensing advance the study of fluvial forms and processes? (2) what are the reach-scale geomorphic effects of an extreme flood and to what extent are these changes predictable? and (3) what are the linkages between flood-induced geomorphic change, reach hydraulics, and aquatic habitat? Results based on the case of an extreme flood event on Elbow River, Alberta demonstrate the utility of UAVs to efficiently and accurately measure many aspects of fluvial ecosystem form and function. The combination of high resolution imagery and photogrammetrically derived elevation models provides a powerful way to characterize rivers for a wide range of applications, particularly when combined with numerical flow modeling for a seamless representation of fluvial hydrogeomorphology. Pre- and post-flood UAV surveys documented flood effects with unprecedented detail, showing a largely unpredictable fluvial response characterized by complete channel planform reorganization and widespread bank erosion. These geomorphic changes negatively impacted the study reach in terms of hydraulic diversity and habitat suitability for brown trout and constrain future fluvial adjustment during smaller floods. Overall, the dissertation presents a new way to measure rivers and extract meaningful information and provides an integrative assessment of relationships between geomorphology, hydraulics, and aquatic ecology in a complex, dynamic river system.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International