Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2019, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (4): 613-634.doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1618-z

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Assessing the oscillation of channel geometry and meander migration cardinality of Bhagirathi River, West Bengal, India

Bag Rakhohori1, Mondal Ismail2,*(), Bandyopadhyay Jatisankar1   

  1. 1. Department of Remote Sensing & GIS, Vidyasagar University, Midnapore-721102, India
    2. Department of Marine Science, University of Calcutta, Kolkata-700019, India
  • Received:2017-10-27 Accepted:2018-03-23 Online:2019-04-25 Published:2019-04-12
  • Contact: Mondal Ismail
  • About author:

    Author: Zhang Jingjing (1991-), PhD Candidate, specialized in development and utilization of natural resources in mountain areas. E-mail:


Lateral migration of the Bhagirathi River temporally creates unavoidable geomorphic hazards in West Bengal, India. The Bhagirathi River flows SW for ~67.30 km between the confluence point of Ajay and Jalangi rivers in East Burdwan and Nadia districts of West Bengal. The course of Bhagirathi is notably migration prone and cultivates problematic changes along its course over time. In the study, we have looked into its migration tendency and unpredictability for past 238 years and then predicted the lateral shifting of river centerline using temporal satellite imageries - Landsat-5 (TM) of 1987 (8, December), 1995 (28, January), 2005 (7, January) and LISS-IV satellite imagery (2017, 5 January);SOI Toposheet - 1968-1969 (79A/2, 79A/3, 79A/6 and 79A/7) and Rennell’s map of 1779. Other highlights are the quest of fluvial features, oxbow lakes, mid-channel bars, channel migration rate, meander geometry, channel sinuosity in different parts of river course and the parts that experience intensive bank erosion. The entire river course has been subdivided into three segments; viz. reaches A, B and C. Investigation displays that degree of sinuosity decreases from its anterior course (1968) to the existing course (2017). Reach-specific outputs display that reach B is highly sinuous (SI value 1.94 in 2017) and SI increases temporarily, whereas for reaches A and C it decreases with time. The rate of migration is higher in reach B than that in reaches C and A. The study displays a notably decreasing trend of migration in comparison with its previous lateral migration and shows that the migration nature over time is intensively inconsistent and unpredictable except very few portions of the river course. The nature of deposition within the river channel shows an unstable behavior during the entire period of the study. Meander geometry depicts a rapid change of river course innate to meander bends and shows a higher rate of migration by meander loop cut-off rather than lateral migration that reflects the inconsistency, erosion vulnerability and unpredictable nature of migration. The present work offers a valuable source to comprehend channel changes in Bhagirathi River and serve as an efficacious base for river-bank migration and erosion hazard planning and management.

Key words: channel geometry, sinuosity index, braiding index, meander geometry, radius of curvature, bend tightness index, linear regression, GIS