Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 17–33 | Cite as

Classification of river morphology and hydrology to support management and restoration

  • M. Rinaldi
  • A. M. Gurnell
  • M. González del Tánago
  • M. Bussettini
  • D. Hendriks
Research Article


As part of an hierarchical, multi-scale, hydromorphological framework for European rivers that has been developed within the REFORM project, a procedure for classifying rivers has been devised. The procedure includes components that categorise river channel morphology, floodplain morphology, flow regime, and groundwater—surface water interactions, and is designed for operational use in the context of river management. Channel morphology is classified at a first level by a basic river typology interpreted using remotely sensed images, and at a second level by an extended river typology that integrates information from field observations. Floodplains are classified by adopting the Nanson and Croke typology with specific reference to the types of floodplain that are most likely to be encountered widely across Europe. Nine flow regime types are identified using a series of hydrological indicators. Finally, where groundwater has a significant influence on river flows, a range of potential groundwater—surface water interactions are identified reflecting the morphological river type and its geological and climatic setting. Within the REFORM project, the river typology has been tested using case studies representative of a wide variety of European catchment conditions. Four case studies are used to illustrate the classification procedure and to discuss its main strengths and limitations.


River classification Channel morphology Floodplain Flow regime Groundwater 



The work leading to this paper has received funding from the European Union’s FP7 programme under Grant Agreement No. 282656 (REFORM). The classification procedure was developed within the context of deliverable D2.1 of the REFORM programme, therefore, all partners who contributed to the development of this deliverable also contributed to some extent to the methodology described in this paper.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Rinaldi
    • 1
  • A. M. Gurnell
    • 2
  • M. González del Tánago
    • 3
  • M. Bussettini
    • 4
  • D. Hendriks
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.School of GeographyQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.E.T.S. Ingeniería de Montes, Forestal y del Medio NaturalUniversidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain
  4. 4.Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA)RomeItaly
  5. 5.DeltaresUtrechtThe Netherlands

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