The barrier river reach identification and classification in the Middle Yangtze River

  • Jinwu Tang
  • Chunyan Hu
  • Xingying YouEmail author
  • Yunping Yang
  • Xiaofeng Zhang
  • Jinyun Deng
  • Meng Chen
Research Article


Adjustments of upstream river regimes are one of the main factors affecting downstream fluvial processes. However, not all adjustments of river regimes will propagate downstream. There are some distinctive river reaches where upstream and downstream adjustments have no relevance. However, the irrelevance is neither caused by different river types nor by the different conditions of water and sediment; but rather, the channel boundaries and riverbed morphologies block the propagation effect. These are referred to here as the barrier river reach phenomena. The migration of the thalweg line is the essential reason for causing the propagation effect. Numerous influencing factors for thalweg migration exist, including 1) the average flow rate above the critical bankfull discharge, the average flow rate below the critical bankfull discharge, and their ratio, 2) the ratio of the duration of the aforementioned two periods, 3) the thalweg displacement at the entrance of the river reach, 4) the deflecting flow intensity of the node, 5) the ratio of the river width to water depth, 6) the relative width of the floodplain, and 7) the Shields number. In this study, the correlativity between the measured distances and the restricting indicators of thalweg migration in the Middle Yangtze River over the years was established. The barrier degree of 27 singlethread river reaches was subsequently assessed. These reaches included 4 barrier river reaches; 5 transitional reaches transforming from barrier to non-barrier; 10 transitional reaches transforming from non-barrier to barrier; and 8 non-barrier river reaches. Barrier river reaches were found to be important for maintaining the stability of the river regime and the transverse equilibrium of sediment transport in the downstream reaches. To some extent, the barrier river reaches may protect the natural dynamical properties from being destroyed by artificial river regulation works. Thus, they are of great significance for river management.


the barrier river reach Yangtze River channel adjustment thalweg migration identification and classification 


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This research was supported by Open Research Fund of CRSRI (No. CKWV2018464/KY), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Nos. 2016YFC0402306, 2016YFC0402310, and 2016YFC0402106), Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51379155), and Fundamental Research Funds for Central Welfare Research Institutes (No. TKS160103).


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinwu Tang
    • 1
  • Chunyan Hu
    • 1
  • Xingying You
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Yunping Yang
    • 4
  • Xiaofeng Zhang
    • 3
  • Jinyun Deng
    • 3
  • Meng Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Changjiang Institute of Survey Planning Design and ResearchWuhanChina
  2. 2.Hubei Institute of Survey & Design for Water Resources & Water Power EngineeringWuhanChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Water Resource and Hydropower Engineering ScienceWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Engineering Sediment, Tianjin Research Institute for Water Transport EngineeringMinistry of TransportTianjinChina

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