Multiple Time Scales of Fluvial Processes with Bed Load Sediment and Implications for Mathematical Modeling

Zhixian Cao, Peng Hu, Gareth Pender

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    24 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Fluvial bed load transport is often considered to assume a capacity regime exclusively determined by local flow conditions, but its applicability in naturally occurring unsteady flows remains to be theoretically justified. In addition, mathematical river models are often decoupled, being based on simplified conservation equations and ignoring the feedback impacts of bed deformation to a certain extent. So far whether the decoupling could have considerable impacts on the fluvial processes with bed load transport remains poorly understood. This paper presents a theoretical investigation of both issues. The multiple time scales of fluvial processes with bed load sediment are evaluated to examine the applicability of bed load transport capacity and decoupled models. Numerical case studies involving active bed load transport by highly unsteady flows complement the analysis of the time scales. It is found that bed load transport can sufficiently rapidly adapt to capacity in line with local flow because sediment exchange with the bed overwhelms the advection of bed load sediment by the mean flow. The present work provides theoretical justification of the concept of bed load transport capacity in most circumstances, which is underpinned by existing observations of bed load transport by flash floods. For fluvial processes with bed load transport, the feedback impacts of bed deformation are limited; therefore, decoupled modeling is, in this sense, appropriate. © 2011 American Society of Civil Engineers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-276
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Hydraulic Engineering
    Volume137
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

    Keywords

    • Bed load
    • Coupled modeling
    • Decoupled modeling
    • Flash flood
    • Mathematical river modeling
    • Sediment transport capacity
    • Sediment transport rate
    • Time scales
    • Unsteady flow

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