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A morphodynamic model to evaluate long-term sandbar rebuilding using controlled floods in the Grand Canyon

April 29, 2021

Controlled floods released from dams have become a common restoration strategy in river systems worldwide. Here we present a morphodynamic model of sandbar volume change for a subset of sandbars of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, where controlled floods are part of a management strategy focused on sandbar maintenance. We simulate sandbars as a triangular wedge, where deposition and erosion are modeled using physically based approaches that are driven by nearly continuous observations of flow and suspended sand concentration. We optimize an eddy exchange coefficient and erosion rate parameter by comparing model predictions to measured bar volumes. The model captures most of the variability in observed volume changes, and demonstrates the importance of flood frequency and sand concentration on average bar size. The model is easily implemented and adaptable, providing a means for predicting the future behavior of sandbars under a variety of streamflow and sediment supply scenarios.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title A morphodynamic model to evaluate long-term sandbar rebuilding using controlled floods in the Grand Canyon
DOI 10.1029/2021GL093007
Authors Erich R. Mueller, Paul Grams
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geophysical Research Letters
Series Number
Index ID 70220384
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center