Computational modeling of bedform evolution in rivers with implications for predictions of flood stage and bed evolution

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Uncertainties in flood stage prediction and bed evolution in rivers are frequently associated with the evolution of bedforms over a hydrograph. For the case of flood prediction, the evolution of the bedforms may alter the effective bed roughness, so predictions of stage and velocity based on assuming bedforms retain the same size and shape over a hydrograph will be incorrect. These same effects will produce errors in the prediction of the sediment transport and bed evolution, but in this latter case the errors are typically larger, as even small errors in the prediction of bedform form drag can make very large errors in predicting the rates of sediment motion and the associated erosion and deposition. In situations where flows change slowly, it may be possible to use empirical results that relate bedform morphology to roughness and effective form drag to avoid these errors; but in many cases where the bedforms evolve rapidly and are in disequilibrium with the instantaneous flow, these empirical methods cannot be accurately applied. Over the past few years, computational models for bedform development, migration, and adjustment to varying flows have been developed and tested with a variety of laboratory and field data. These models, which are based on detailed multidimensional flow modeling incorporating large eddy simulation, appear to be capable of predicting bedform dimensions during steady flows as well as their time dependence during discharge variations. In the work presented here, models of this type are used to investigate the impacts of bedform on stage and bed evolution in rivers during flood hydrographs. The method is shown to reproduce hysteresis in rating curves as well as other more subtle effects in the shape of flood waves. Techniques for combining the bedform evolution models with larger-scale models for river reach flow, sediment transport, and bed evolution are described and used to show the importance of including dynamic bedform effects in river modeling. For example calculations for a flood on the Kootenai River, errors of almost 1m in predicted stage and errors of about a factor of two in the predicted maximum depths of erosion can be attributed to bedform evolution. Thus, treating bedforms explicitly in flood and bed evolution models can decrease uncertainty and increase the accuracy of predictions.
Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Computational modeling of bedform evolution in rivers with implications for predictions of flood stage and bed evolution
ISBN 978-0-9779007-3-2
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher Advisory Committee on Water Information
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Central Branch
Description 9 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the 4th Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference and the 9th Federal Interagency Sedimentation Conference
Conference Title 2nd Joint Federal Interagency Conference
Conference Location Las Vegas, NV
Conference Date June 27-July 10, 2010
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