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Keywords:

  • arid lands;
  • flooding;
  • sediment transport;
  • streamflow;
  • flow duration;
  • temporal resolution

Chen, Li, Rina Schumer, Anna Knust, and William Forsee, 2011. Impact of Temporal Resolution of Flow-Duration Curve on Sediment Load Estimation. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(1): 145-155. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00602.x

Abstract:  Estimates of a channel’s annual sediment transport capacity typically incorporate annualized flow-duration curves. Average daily flow data, commonly used to develop flow-duration curves, may not adequately describe sediment-transporting flows in arid and semiarid ephemeral streams. In this study, we examined impacts of varied temporal resolution flow data on annual sediment load estimation. We derived flow-duration curves for eight sites in the Southwestern United States based on both 15-min and daily-averaged flow data. We then estimated sediment loads for both flow-duration curves using the Sediment Impact Analysis Method, implemented in HEC-RAS. When average daily flow is used to generate flow-duration curves, sediment load estimation is lower by up to an order of magnitude. This trend is generally unaffected by uncertainty associated with sediment particle size or hydraulic roughness. The ratio of sediment loads estimated by 15-min versus daily-averaged flow-duration curves is strongly correlated with channel slope, being greater on steep-slope channels. Sediment loads estimated by the two types of flow-duration curves are closely correlated, suggesting possible relationships for improving predictions when high-temporal resolution data are unavailable. Results also suggest that the largest flow contributes significantly to total sediment load, and thus will greatly impact ephemeral stream geomorphology in arid and semiarid regions.