A new approach to quantify shallow water hydrologic exchanges in a large regulated river reach

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Hydrologic exchange is a crucial component of the water cycle. The strength of the exchange directly affects the biogeochemical and ecological processes that occur in the hyporheic zone and aquifer from micro to reach scales. Hydrologic exchange fluxes (HEFs) can be quantified using many field measurement approaches, however, in a relatively large river (scale > 103 m), these approaches are limited by site accessibility, the difficulty of performing representative sampling, and the complexity of geomorphologic features and subsurface properties. In rivers regulated by hydroelectric dams, quantifying HEF rates becomes more challenging because of frequent hydropeaking events, featuring hourly to daily variations in flow and river stages created by dam operations. In this study, we developed and validated a new approach based on field measurements to estimate shallow water HEF rates across the river bed along the shoreline of the Columbia River, USA. Vertical thermal profiles measured by self-recording thermistors were combined with time series of hydraulic gradients derived from river stages and inland water levels to estimate the HEF rates. The results suggest that the HEF rates had high spatial and temporal heterogeneities over the riverbed, with predicted flux rates varied from +1 × 10-6 m s-1 to -1.5 × 10-6 m s-1 under different flow conditions.




Zhou, T., Huang, M., Bao, J., Hou, Z., Arntzen, E., Mackley, R., … Zachara, J. (2017). A new approach to quantify shallow water hydrologic exchanges in a large regulated river reach. Water (Switzerland), 9(9). https://doi.org/10.3390/w9090703

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