Adapting regime theory to a stochastic world

The concept of river regime is about as close to an equilibrium concept as you can get. Fundamentally, there are some problems that cannot be tackled using a regime-based paradigm, but there are some circumstances where such an approach can be quite useful, particularly for managers and consulting geoscientists who need easy-to-use tools with modest data requirements to answer extremely complex management questions with important socioeconomic consequences.

In our paper, Rob Millar and I have reviewed the basis for regime theory, and have developed a Monte Carlo simulation tool (available in the standalone UBCRM software package) that at least incorporates uncertainty, even if it does not truly recognize the stochastic nature of stream channel dynamics.  In the last section of the paper, we go to some length to articulate what we think are the limitations of a regime-based approach to river dynamics.

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