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By using a model of a meandering stream, scientists have shown two ingredients that are very important for stream health: vegetation to reinforce banks and prevent erosion, and sand to build point bars and block off cut-off channels and chutes. This knowledge will help stream restoration efforts in the future.
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Image Courtesy of Zina Deretsky/National Science Foundation

Living, Meandering River Constructed
News story originally written on September 28, 2009

Scientists have used a model of a river to learn more about how healthy rivers are formed. Healthy rivers have sections that are shallow, and other sections that are deep. These different types of water contain habitats that allow a lot of different plants and animals to live in the river.

The model of the river contains gravel (which is like sand), fine sediment, plants, and water. Scientists have learned that in order to be a healthy river, it needs to have lots of plants on the edges of the river to protect it from erosion. Healthy rivers also need enough sand to keep smaller streams from branching off of the main river.

Scientists hope they can use what they learn from this model to restore other rivers back to being healthy.

Last modified January 21, 2010 by Becca Hatheway.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA