Simulation of fluvial sediment dynamics through strategic assessment of stream gaging data: A targeted watershed sediment loading analysis

Se Jong Cho, Christian A. Braudrick, Christine L. Dolph, Stephanie S. Day, Brent J. Dalzell, Peter R. Wilcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Near-channel sediment loading (NCSL) is localized and episodic, making it difficult to accurately quantify its cumulative contribution to watershed sediment loading, let alone predict the effects from changes in river discharge due to climate change or land management practices. We developed a methodological framework, using commonly available stream gaging data, for estimating watershed-scale NCSL, a feature generally absent in most watershed models. The method utilizes a network of paired gages that bracket the incised river corridors of 15 tributaries to the Minnesota River, in which near-channel sources are often the dominant contributors of sediment loading. For each set of paired gages, we calculate NCSL as the difference between the upstream and downstream sediment loading minus the field contribution between the gages. NCSL generally increases with river discharge when it exceeds the observed threshold benchmark in the tributaries of Minnesota River Basin; accordingly, we developed a predictive model for quantifying NCSL using river discharge as the independent variable. This approach provides a predictive basis for evaluating the impacts on near-channel sediment supply from increases in runoff and river discharge. Application of this approach includes evaluation of watershed-scale conservation trade-offs, where benefits of landscape management practices, such as wetlands and reservoirs are measured in terms of reduction in downstream near-channel sediment loading in the incised river corridors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111420
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume277
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

Keywords

  • Bluff erosion
  • Minnesota river
  • Near-channel sediment
  • Sediment transport
  • Stream erosion

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