Self-similarity and vanishing diffusion in fluvial landscapes

Shashank Kumar Anand, Matteo B. Bertagni, Theodore D. Drivas, Amilcare Porporato
Nonlinear Sciences, Pattern Formation and Solitons, Pattern Formation and Solitons (nlin.PS), Fluid Dynamics (physics.flu-dyn)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 120.51 (2023): e2302401120
2023-12-21 00:00:00
Complex topographies exhibit universal properties when fluvial erosion dominates landscape evolution over other geomorphological processes. Similarly, we show that the solutions of a minimalist landscape evolution model display invariant behavior as the impact of soil diffusion diminishes compared to fluvial erosion at the landscape scale, yielding complete self-similarity with respect to a dimensionless channelization index. Approaching its zero limit, soil diffusion becomes confined to a region of vanishing area and large concavity or convexity, corresponding to the locus of the ridge and valley network. We demonstrate these results using 1D analytical solutions and 2D numerical simulations, supported by real-world topographic observations. Our findings on the landscape self-similarity and the localized diffusion resemble the self-similarity of turbulent flows and the role of viscous dissipation. Topographic singularities in the vanishing diffusion limit are suggestive of shock waves and singularities observed in nonlinear complex systems.
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