Peng Gao: 0000-0001-5323-9398

Document Type





alpine swamp meadow, alpine meadow, degradation of riparian vegetation, root distribution, tensile strength, tensile crack




This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41302258, 41762023, 41662023, and 51979012), the Project of Qinghai Science & Technology Department (Grant No. 2017-ZJ-776), the Natural Science Foundation Innovation Team Project of Qinghai Provincial Department of Science and Technology (Grant No. 2020-ZJ-904).


Geography | Other Geography | Physical and Environmental Geography


In the meandering riverbank of the Upper Yellow River (UYR), the native alpine swamp meadow (AS) has continuously degenerated into an alpine meadow (AM) due to climate change and intensified grazing. Its implication on river morphology is still not well known. This study examined this effect by in situ measurings of (1) physical properties of roots and their distribution in the soil-root mixture of the upper bank layer, and (2) the tensile strength in terms of excavating tests for triggering cantilever collapses of AS and AM riverbanks. The results showed that the root number in AS was significantly greater than that in AM, though the root distribution in both was similar. Also, the average tensile strength of individual roots in AS was 31,310 kPa, while that in AM was only 16,155 kPa. For the soil-root mixture, it decreased from 67.39 to 21.96 kPa. The weakened mechanical property was mainly ascribed to the lessened root number and the simpler root structure in the soil-root mixture of AM that reduces its ability to resist the external force. These findings confirmed that healthy AS can enhance bank stability and delay the development of tensile cracks in the riverbank of the meandering rivers in the UYR.

Additional Information

This article was originally published in Water (8/2020).



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.