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Comparing discharge computation methods in the Great Lakes connecting channels

March 31, 2020

Records of discharge for the connecting channels within the Great Lakes Basin are important to national governments of Canada and the United States and the various water management agencies and users in the basin. For more than 100 years, the official discharge records for the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, two connecting channels within the Great Lakes Basin, have been computed using various stage-fall-discharge (SFQ) methods. However, as a result of technological advancements, newer methods have recently been considered for discharge computations. In this study, three discharge computation methods were compared: two SFQ methods and the index-velocity discharge (IVQ) method. Although the two SFQ methods have significantly different assumptions and use different data from the index-velocity method, the differences between the computed discharges derived from the methods are small, especially as the time step approaches monthly discharge values. Statistical analyses of discharge measurements and discharges computed using each of these methods indicate that there is no substantive difference in the discharges computed using the three methods. However, the IVQ method provides distinct advantages over the SFQ methods, including increased temporal resolution of computed discharge (minutes versus daily) and the ability to account for changes caused by aquatic vegetation and ice. Based on the results of the comparisons described herein, the IVQ discharge computation method is the most appropriate method for discharge computation in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers. Updated SFQ equations for the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, also presented herein, can be used to compute discharge during periods of missing or invalid IVQ record.

Publication Year 2020
Title Comparing discharge computation methods in the Great Lakes connecting channels
DOI 10.1061/(ASCE)HE.1943-5584.0001904
Authors Aaron F Thompson, Sandrina N Rodrigues, Jeanette C Fooks, Kevin Oberg, Tim J Calappi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Hydrologic Engineering
Index ID 70214149
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization WMA - Observing Systems Division