Future River Analysis and Management Evaluation (FRAME) Tool

Philip Soar, Amanda L. Cox, Colin R. Thorne, Charles D. Little, David S. Biedenharn, Travis A. Dahl

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


The Mississippi delta is being degraded at an unsustainable rate with serious potential to undermine the benefits the delta provides to wildlife, people and the U.S. economy unless action is taken to address the long-term decline in sediment load delivered by the Lower Mississippi River. Understanding the likely future evolution of the river in response to its changing sediment budget is imperative but remains a vision beyond the capabilities of conventional river engineering models that focus on short-term investigations of hydraulics, flooding, habitats and channel morphological response, typically within reaches of interest and over project-design time-scales.

A new type of model is currently in development, tasked with revealing uncertainty-bounded trends in sediment transport and channel morphology over annual, decadal and centennial time-scales. The FRAME (Future River Analysis & Management Evaluation) tool is being designed with river managers and planners in mind where results will offer exploratory insights into plausible river futures and their potential impacts. A unique attribute of the tool is its hybrid interfacing of traditional one-dimensional hydraulic and sediment transport modelling with geomorphic rules for characterising the nature of morphological response. The tool employs probabilistic annual flow duration curves to define ensembles of hypothetical average years, wetter than average years and drier than average years that in sequence enable the design of long-term hydrological storylines.

A testbed model for a 200-mile reach of the Mississippi River upstream of Vicksburg currently provides a platform for FRAME’s development, testing and, critically, for realising the multiple benefits that such a tool would deliver. While the lower Mississippi River provides a prominent case where long-term forecasting of sediment transport and morphological response would be invaluable, such a tool would be transferable to other river settings and management programs seeking to mitigate against undesirable future outcomes.

This report documents FRAME’s ‘initial’ development to the stage of a prototype tool and sets out proposed future developments that would be required to provide river managers and planners with a fully-functional tool for delivering insights on long-term morphological response in river channels. The work was performed over 2.5 years as a collaborative agreement between ERDC-CHL, the University of Portsmouth (UK), Saint Louis University, the University of Nottingham (UK) and Mendroip Engineering Resources Llc.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Portsmouth
Commissioning bodyU.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


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