A customised approach to determining the geomorphic effectiveness of small flood events in a regulated river

Teresa Rose, Wayne Erskine, Brett Miners

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The construction of dams significantly alters flow and sediment regimes with subsequent deleterious effects on the morphological and ecological character of rivers. Effective experimental floods can ameliorate the downstream geomorphic impacts of dams. The traditional view is that large floods are required to perform effective geomorphic work, and the geomorphic outcomes of small floods are often overlooked. Many river restoration frameworks do not consider small floods. Yet, there is evidence that the hydrological characteristics that ameliorate specific geomorphic impacts in a river are unique to each river, and a customised approach to setting the right mix of floods (including small experimental floods) is needed. In this study, we modify an existing flood effectiveness model developed for large floods, for determining the geomorphic effectiveness of small floods in a highly regulated Australian river. Two flood classes were added to the model (medium peak stream power and moderate total energy expenditure), and the flood power characteristics were rescaled to reflect the relative difference in the magnitude of the small floods and the magnitude of the geomorphic work performed. Using a step-wise approach, this customised model determined the geomorphic effectiveness of small floods. The best flood for ameliorating the geomorphic impacts of flow regulation had medium to long duration (10 to 51 days), high peak unit stream power (77 to 123 Wm−2) and moderate to large total energy expenditure (78,600 to 342,320 × 103 J). This approach to determining flood effectiveness for small floods is applicable to other geomorphically impacted river channels downstream of dams and can be used to inform experimental flood releases for geomorphic outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)580-594
    Number of pages15
    JournalRiver Research and Applications
    Volume36
    Issue number4
    Early online date28 Aug 2019
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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