Channel recovery in a regulated river: Effects of an experimental and natural flood in the Snowy River, SE Australia

Teresa Rose, Wayne Erskine, Brett Miners

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Experimental floods, generated downstream of dams, are used to recover specific bio-geomorphic functions in regulated rivers. Studies of the effects of experimental floods vary in their objective, location, and the hydrological and bio-geomorphic variables used to quantify recovery. Measurements of geomorphic change are required to guide future release strategies. The focus of this study was to determine if a large experimental flood in the Snowy River Australia, could promote geomorphic recovery of the river channel downstream of Jindabyne Dam following 35 years of flow regulation. The objectives of the release were to deepen, widen, and increase channel capacity and coarsen the riverbed substratum in the Jindabyne Gorge and Dalgety Uplands sections of the Snowy River. Data from the release were compared with that of a natural flood event that occurred after the experimental flow event. Both events showed channel adjustments and a degree of geomorphic recovery, but this varied between the two river sections. Marked channel adjustments occurred in the Dalgety Uplands reach following both the experimental and natural flood event and in the Jindabyne Gorge section following the natural flood event. Geomorphic changes were related to the hydrological character of each flood event. The number of flood peaks, the sequence of peaks, the flood duration, and the total energy expenditure differed markedly between the two events, and these four flood hydrological characteristics explained the greater geomorphic recovery associated with the natural flood event in the Jindabyne Gorge. No clear hydro-geomorphic relationship was derived for channel change in the Dalgety Uplands where existing morphological constraints limit flood effectiveness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)567-579
    Number of pages13
    JournalRiver Research and Applications
    Issue number4
    Early online date20 Aug 2019
    Publication statusPublished - May 2020

    Cite this