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ABSTRACT

Two sets of empirical data on the relationship of the plan shape of current ripples to flow conditions previously thought incompatible are reconciled by taking explicit and necessary account of the effects of flow width relative to flow depth. The aspects of plan shape considered are the mean streamwise ripple wavelength and the wavelength, measured across the flow, of longitudinal features due to centrifugal instability formed on the backs of the ripples. A regression analysis connecting these attributes with flow conditions including the width-effect shows that the amount of unexplained variability is of the same order as the accumulated experimental errors, and suggests that the two sets of data are in excellent agreement. The relationship of the plan geometry to flow conditions is less simple than has sometimes been supposed, but ways are suggested in which the experimental results can be used to establish the hydraulics of past environments.