Flooding is a dominant physical process that drives the form and function of river-floodplain ecosystems. Efficiently characterizing flooding dynamics can be challenging, especially over geographically broad areas or at spatial and temporal scales relevant for ecosystem management activities. Here, we empirically evaluated a low-complexity geospatial model of floodplain inundation in six study segments of the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) by pairing spatially extensive, temporally limited and spatially limited, temporally extensive sampling designs. We found little evidence of systematic bias in model performance although discrepancies between model predictions and empirical data did occur locally. Assessments of model predictions revealed low segment-wide discrepancies of wetted extent under contrasting flow conditions and agreement for inundation event detection and duration. Model performance for predicting event frequency and duration was similar among sites expected to exhibit contrasting patterns of hydrologic connectivity with the main channel. Our results suggest that low-complexity models can efficiently characterize a critical physical process across geographically broad, complex river-floodplain ecosystems. Such tools have the potential for advancing scientific understanding of landscape-scale ecological patterns and for prioritizing management actions in large, complex river-floodplain ecosystems like the UMRS.
|Title||Low-complexity floodplain inundation model performs well for ecological and management applications in a large river ecosystem|
|Authors||Molly Van Appledorn, Nathan R. De Jager, Jason J. Rohweder|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of the American Water Resources Association|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center|