On Hack's Law

Riccardo Rigon
Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe
Amos Maritan
Achille Giacometti
David G. Tarboton, Utah State University
Andrea Rinaldo


Hack's law is reviewed, emphasizing its implications for the elongation of river basins as well as its connections with their fractal characteristics. The relation between Hack's law and the internal structure of river basins is investigated experimentally through digital elevation models. It is found that Hack's exponent, elongation, and some relevant fractal characters are closely related. The self-affine character of basin boundaries is shown to be connected to the power law decay of the probability of total contributing areas at any link and to Hack's law. An explanation for Hack's law is derived from scaling arguments. From the results we suggest that a statistical framework referring to the scaling invariance of the entire basin structure should be used in the interpretation of Hack's law.