Also known as Meander Evolution Model
Model type Single
Model part of larger framework
Incorporated models or components:
Spatial dimensions 2D
Spatial extent Landscape-Scale, Reach-Scale
Model domain Terrestrial, Hydrology, Planetary landforms
One-line model description SINUOUS - Meander Evolution Model
Extended model description Extended description for SINUOUS - Meander Evolution Model. The basic model simulates planform evolution of a meandering river starting from X,Y coordinates of centerline nodes, with specification of cross-sectional and flow parameters. If the model is intended to simulate evolution of an existing river, the success of the model can be evaluated by the included area between the simulated and the river centerline. In addition, topographic evolution of the surrounding floodplain can be simulated as a function of existing elevation, distance from the nearest channel, and time since the channel migrated through that location. Profile evolution of the channel can also be modeled by backwater flow routing and bed sediment transport relationships.

meander, Meander Evolution Model, floodplain deposition,

Name Alan Howard
Type of contact Model developer
Institute / Organization University of Virginia
Postal address 1 5812 Dunvegan Lane
Postal address 2
Town / City Charlottesville
Postal code 22932
State Virginia
Country United States
Email address
Phone 434-981-2035

Supported platforms
Linux, Mac OS, Windows
Other platform
Programming language


Other program language Pascal
Code optimized Single Processor
Multiple processors implemented
Nr of distributed processors
Nr of shared processors
Start year development 1984
Does model development still take place? Yes
If above answer is no, provide end year model development
Code development status Active
When did you indicate the 'code development status'? 2021
Model availability As code
Source code availability
(Or provide future intension)
Through CSDMS repository
Source web address
Source csdms web address
Program license type GPL v3
Program license type other
Memory requirements Depends upon size of simulated domain
Typical run time 10-50 minutes depending on domain size and duration of simulation

Describe input parameters X,Y coordinates of centerline, hydrologic and sedimentary parameters, as detailed in the model documentation
Input format ASCII
Other input format
Describe output parameters Centerline and floodplain evolution through time, as well as hydraulic parameters as detailed in the model documentation
Output format ASCII
Other output format Images of final floodplain age distribution an topography if modeled
Pre-processing software needed? Yes
Describe pre-processing software Initial centerline needs to be created or digitized. Hyrologic and sedimentary parameters need to be estimated from external information. See documentation.
Post-processing software needed? Yes
Describe post-processing software Centerline data, floodplain elevations, and hydraulic data are output as tables which can be analyzed by the user as needed.
Visualization software needed? No
If above answer is yes
Other visualization software

Describe processes represented by the model Centerline migration, Floodplain sediment, and channel profile evolution, depending upon choices in the parameter input files, as detailed in the model documentation.
Describe key physical parameters and equations Flow modeling is based on the Ikeda, Parker, and Sawaii (1984) and Johannesson and Parker (1989) linearized flow models. See the model documentation and published papers documented therein. Floodplain sedimentation is modeled as described in the documentation and in Howard(1992, 1996). Backwater flow routing and bed sediment routing is based upon Gary Parker's ebook spreadsheet RTe-bookAgDegBW.xls:. See the program documentation for further details.
Describe length scale and resolution constraints The channel centerline is represented by X,Y coordinates with about one channel=width equivalent. The floodplain evolution, if simulated, has cells of one channel-width equivalent. Length of simulated domain and floodplain size depends upon input data.
Describe time scale and resolution constraints Simulated meander evolution timesteps are typically 0.1 year to a few years. If downstream sediment transport is modeled, subiterations of ~0.01 year are required.
Describe any numerical limitations and issues None identified

Describe available calibration data sets Calibration must be based on external hydraulic and channel morphology data. Optimal parameters can be determined by test simulations.
Upload calibration data sets if available:
Describe available test data sets The model is issued with three example simulations: 1) A centerline migration example starting from a nearly straight stream; 2) A floodplain deposition simulation and 3) A simulation modeling 5 years of migration of the Madidi river. This simulation uses downstream sediment routing, and the model is tested against the actual river migration during the same time interval. See the program documentation for details.
Upload test data sets if available:
Describe ideal data for testing Channel migration data for real meandering rivers. Topography of floodplains of actual migrating rivers.

Do you have current or future plans for collaborating with other researchers? None at present.
Is there a manual available? Yes
Upload manual if available: Media:Documentation_for_Meander_Evolution_Model.pdf
Model website if any
Model forum / discussion board

This part will be filled out by CSDMS staff

OpenMI compliant No not possible
BMI compliant No not possible
WMT component No not possible
PyMT component No not possible
Is this a data component No
Can be coupled with:
Model info
Nr. of publications: 1
Total citations: 0
h-index: --"--" is not a number.
m-quotient: 0
Qrcode SINUOUS.png
Link to this page


the meander evolution model "SINOUS" has evolved from Howard and Knutson (1984). Additions to this model include floodplain topographic modeling, a variety of chute cutoff mechanisms, a variety of bank erosion formulations, and sediment routing and long-profile modeling. The flow model is based upon Ikeda, Parker, and Sawai (1981) and Johannesson and Parker (1989). Those using the program should refer to the papers in the Bibliography for more specific descriptions of the model framework and example results.=



Nr. of publications: 1
Total citations: 0
h-index: --"--" is not a number.
m-quotient: 0

Featured publication(s)YearModel describedType of ReferenceCitations
Howard, A. D 1996. Modelling channel evolution and floodplain morphology. In: M.A. Anderson, D.E., Walling, P.D. Bates (eds.)Floodplain Processes.. 15-62.
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Model application

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Input Files

Output Files