Modeling the geomorphic response to early river engineering works using CAESAR-Lisflood

Ramirez, Jorge Alberto; Zischg, Andreas Paul; Schürmann, Stefan; Zimmermann, Markus; Weingartner, Rolf; Coulthard, Tom; Keiler, Margreth (2020). Modeling the geomorphic response to early river engineering works using CAESAR-Lisflood. Anthropocene, 32, p. 100266. Elsevier 10.1016/j.ancene.2020.100266

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Landscape Evolution Models (LEMs) simulate the movement of water and sediment over the landscape. Although much progress has been made in the development of LEMs, few have been tested in rivers subject to anthropogenic impacts that produce high energy flows, transporting large amounts of sediment and causing significant geomorphic changes. As such, it remains uncertain if LEMs are useful and stable under relatively short term ‘extreme’ geomorphic conditions. To shed light on this topic we use a LEM (CAESAR-Lisflood) and historical documents to develop a detailed reach scale model of the Kander river (Switzerland). This model was used to simulate the unintended impacts of engineering works, occurring in 1714, that deviated the Kander river into a lake and resulted in a large decrease in base level of the river. In 10 years, the model simulates knickpoint propagation that rapidly erodes 2.5 million m3 of sediment and produces a remarkable 27 m of channel erosion. Simultaneously, the model develops the formation of a delta via frequent avulsions. Model testing is performed by comparing model predictions against historical observations of channel incision, knickpoint location, and delta spatial extent. Overall, model error is low and the model remained stable as results do not contain erratic erosion or deposition. Importantly the model suggests that downstream processes occurring at and near the delta have an effect on upstream channel erosion. We also recommend that studies replicating historic landscape changes with LEMs reduce uncertainty in hydrological inputs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Ramirez, Jorge Alberto; Zischg, Andreas Paul; Schürmann, Stefan Peter; Zimmermann, Markus; Weingartner, Rolf and Keiler, Margreth


900 History > 910 Geography & travel
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Mira Maria Schär

Date Deposited:

07 Oct 2020 08:19

Last Modified:

11 Oct 2020 02:56

Publisher DOI:





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