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A hierarchical cluster system based on Horton-Strahler rules for river networks

Da Costa, F.P. and Wattis, J.A.D. and Grinfeld, M. (2002) A hierarchical cluster system based on Horton-Strahler rules for river networks. Studies in Applied Mathematics, 109 (3). pp. 163-204. ISSN 0022-2526

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We consider a cluster system in which each cluster is characterized by two parameters: an "order"i, following Horton-Strahler rules, and a "mass"j following the usual additive rule. Denoting by ci,j(t) the concentration of clusters of order i and mass j at time t, we derive a coagulation-like ordinary differential system for the time dynamics of these clusters. Results about the existence and the behavior of solutions as t→∞ are obtained; in particular, we prove that ci,j(t) → 0 and Ni(c(t)) → 0 as t→∞, where the functional Ni(·) measures the total amount of clusters of a given fixed order i. Exact and approximate equations for the time evolution of these functionals are derived. We also present numerical results that suggest the existence of self-similar solutions to these approximate equations and discuss their possible relevance for an interpretation of Horton's law of river numbers.