Research database

SEDMORNET - Multi-Scale sEDiment transport and MORphodynamic conNEcTivity in rivers

24 months (2025)
Principal investigator(s):
Project type:
Nationally funded research - PRIN
Funding body:
MINISTERO (Ministero dell'Università della Ricerca)
Project identification number:
PoliTo role:


SEDMORNET focuses on river morphodynamics, the science of physical processes that studies changes in river forms, which represent a fundamental control of the integrity of many freshwater ecosystems and related biodiversity, and are at the base of river management for flood protection and risk prevention. Achievements of nearly 40 years in river morphodynamic studies mainly refer to unit processes occurring at specific scales under equilibrium assumption between flow and sediment transport, while non-equilibrium, unsteadiness and connectivity across multiple scales are essential drivers of the actual evolutionary trajectories of the river morphology. To address this fundamental gap, the core novelty of the SEDMORNET project will investigate the relation between sediment connectivity across and within scales and morphodynamic processes. Considering that variability in streamflow and sediment supply are the external drivers of morphodynamics, which reflect climatic or anthropogenic changes acting at larger scales, the project will take a multi-scale approach aiming to: 1) quantify the connectivity properties of wet and active riverbed areas in multi-thread rivers at different flow stages; 2) formulate a conceptual and quantitative model that links the statistical properties of streamflow and sediment supply with the consequent space-time variability of connectivity; 3) develop quantitative, process-based nested morphodynamic models to predict reach-scale evolutionary trajectories of river morphology in response to anthropic and climate changes in the river basin. The project will integrate the complementary expertises of the two Research Units: physics-based analytical morphodynamic modelling, integrated with field/remote sensing observations (University of Trento - UniTN), and stochastic, analytical modelling of river processes (Politecnico di Torino - PoliTO). The strong modelling focus will be complemented with laboratory experiments on a large mobile-bed flume and the analysis of already collected large morphodynamic datasets by the Research Units. Novel methods for river morphodynamics will be also capitalised from other fields of science (complex network models, scale-nested modelling). Two postdoctoral young researchers will be recruited by UniTN and PoliTO to work full time on the project, supervised by 2 permanent staff in each unit and supported by 4 already enrolled PhD students, ensuring a fair balance between the research activities, the specific skills needed and the effort required. Results of SEDMORNET can support effective planning and implementation of investments on river restoration foreseen in the Next Generation EU and PNRR programmes, contributing to social and economic well being and to more resilient river ecosystems. Achieving the project’s potential impact on the scientific community, students, stakeholders and the general public is supported by a dedicated dissemination strategy.





ERC sectors

PE10_17 - Hydrology, water and soil pollution
PE10_13 - Physical geography

Sustainable Development Goals

Obiettivo 6. Garantire a tutti la disponibilità e la gestione sostenibile dell’acqua e delle strutture igienico-sanitarie|Obiettivo 15. Proteggere, ripristinare e favorire un uso sostenibile dell’ecosistema terrestre


Total cost: € 293,104.00
Total contribution: € 231,541.00
PoliTo total cost: € 141,454.00
PoliTo contribution: € 97,576.00