The Need for Full-Scale Experiments in River Science



Studying river processes in the laboratory offers important advantages, particularly the opportunity for precise experimental control and the ability to isolate specific processes. There is, however, a key trade-off. To control essential variables and support tractable technical measurements, experiments are typically conducted at a reduced scale, which introduces a potential loss of realism. The methods and limitations of scale modeling are well developed in some aspects of river science (such as hydraulics and sediment transport) and are emerging in others (such as biogeochemical transport and flow/organism interactions).