Variability of effective discharge for suspended sediment transport in a large semi-arid river basin

Yuanxu Ma*, He Qing Huang, Jiongxin Xu, Gary J. Brierley, Zhijun Yao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The variability of effective discharge is analysed for three geomorphological zones (gullied hilly loess, valley-hill loess and eolian sand) in the Wuding River basin, China, based on mean daily flow discharge and mean daily suspended sediment discharge from 1959 to 1969, a period when human disturbance in this catchment was less intensive. A modified approach to the determination of discharge class intervals is developed, framed in terms of equal arithmetic intervals of the standard deviation S for all the discharges, such as S, 0.75S, 0.5S, and 0.25S. The average flow duration of effective discharge in the river basin ranges primarily from 0.026% to 3.16% in the two loess regions (corresponding to large flood events), and from 18.75% to 91.51% in the eolian sand region (corresponding to low or moderate flows). The average flow duration of effective discharge is significantly influenced by the size of class intervals and by characteristics of the flow and sediment regime. Using the most appropriate class interval of 0.25S, the average flow duration of effective discharge is about 0.026% in the two loess regions (other than 0.104% at Hengshan), but in the eolian sand region it reaches 24.50% at Yulin and 52.66% at Hanjiamao, respectively. Histograms of suspended sediment transport indicate that there is a bimodal dominant discharge for suspended sediment transport, with one peak in the range of low flows and the other in the range of large floods. Drainage density and specific sediment yields are lower in the eolian sand region, where effective discharge events occur more frequently and suspended sediment concentration is much lower than that carried by events of the same discharge in the loess region. In contrast, drainage density is higher in the two loess regions, where infrequent hyperconcentrated flows generate high specific sediment yields. Effective discharge differs significantly from bankfull discharge across the whole Wuding River basin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-369
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume388
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Class intervals
  • Effective discharge
  • Flow duration
  • Flow regime
  • Suspended sediment concentration
  • Wuding River basin

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