Shape of a River - Geomorphology
Stream classification (pg
1 of 2)
Graphic depicting the stream
channel classification system developed by Dave
Rosgen. Courtesy of Dave Rosgen, Wildland
Hydrology, 2003. Adapted by Steve Adams.
The eight variables important in shaping a
stream interact in predictable and measurable ways.
For example, the natural form of the low gradient
streams characteristic of most of Minnesota is
sinuous, narrow, and deep. Steeper rivers found on
the North Shore of Lake Superior are less sinuous
and have boulder and bedrock rapids more like
mountain streams. Many variations on these forms
can be found throughout the world.
One of the ways to better understand streams is
a classification system developed by
Dave Rosgen, (1994). This system helps us
predict the form and shape of a stream when faced
with changes in the hydrologic regime and the
bankfull discharge, loss of stream length due to
straightening, or increases in sediment supply.