River training and river restoration often imply modifying the patterns and dimensions of bars, channels, and pools. Research since the 1980s has greatly advanced and matured our knowledge on the formation and behavior of river bars, thanks to field work, laboratory experiments, theoretical analyses, and numerical modelling by several research groups. However, this knowledge is not easily accessible to design engineers, river managers, and ecologists who need to apply it. This is mainly due to confusing differences in terminology as well as to difficult mathematical theories. Moreover, existing scientific publications generally focus on specific aspects, so an overall review of the findings and their applications is still lacking. In many cases, the knowledge achieved so far would allow minimizing hard engineering interventions and thus obtaining more natural rivers. We present an integrated review of the major findings of river bar studies. Our aim is to provide accessible state-of-the-art knowledge for nature-based bar management and successful river training and river restoration. To this end we review the results from analytical, numerical, experimental, and field studies, explain the background of bar theories, and discuss applications in river engineering and river restoration.
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