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UC Davis studying the physics of horseshoe riffles on the Yuba River using a raft. Photo: Joshua Wyrick

UC Davis research group expains new metholodoly hat can be used to map the spatial pattern of whitewater river hazards.

Rapid editors' inboxes are generally full of links to exciting edits and pitches about whitewater trips snaking rivers across in remote corners of the globe. We rarely receive in depth scientific articles from river scientists, so we were intrigued to hear from Dr. Greg Pasternack from UC Davis about important work his research group has just published. 

Dr. Pasternack’s team has published a scientific article where they explain a new metholodoly that can be used to map the spatial pattern of whitewater river hazards. These hazards are mapped in 1-m resolution over lengthy river segments, and they produce maps that display two variables: passage proximity to a hazard and the paddler’s reaction time before encountering the hazard.

As many whitewater paddlers are aware, the basic and often vague class rating system is often used to define rapids or long stretches of whitewater. Engineers use a basic computation of what it takes to sweep someone off their feet in flood waters.

“I think you will find this is not only a scientific novelty, but of importance for river safety and for improving how boaters prepare to navigate and enjoy rivers. It will take effort to deploy this nationwide, but it is feasible and foreseeable to do so if the will exists,” writes Dr. Pasternack. 

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