Sediment Load and Suspended Sediment Concentration Prediction

https://doi.org/10.17221/6502-SWRCitation:Martin B. (2006): Sediment Load and Suspended Sediment Concentration Prediction. Soil & Water Res., 1: 23-31.
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Sediment is a natural component of riverine environments and its presence in river systems is essential. However, in many ways and many places river systems and the landscape have been strongly affected by human activities which have destroyed naturally balanced sediment supply and sediment transport within catchments. As a consequence a number of severe environmental problems and failures have been identified, in particular the link between sediments and chemicals is crucial and has become a subject of major scientific interest. Sediment load and sediment concentration are therefore highly important variables that may play a key role in environment quality assessment and help to evaluate the extent of potential adverse impacts. This paper introduces a methodology to predict sediment loads and suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) in large European river basins. The methodology was developed within an MSc research study that was conducted in order to improve sediment modelling in the GREAT-ER point source pollution river modelling package. Currently GREAT-ER uses suspended sediment concentration of 15 mg/l for all rivers in Europe which is an obvious oversimplification. The basic principle of the methodology to predict sediment concentration is to estimate annual sediment load at the point of interest and the amount of water that transports it. The amount of transported material is then redistributed in that corresponding water volume (using the flow characteristic) which determines sediment concentrations. Across the continent, 44 river basins belonging to major European rivers were investigated. Suspended sediment concentration data were collected from various European basins in order to obtain observed sediment yields. These were then compared against the traditional empiric sediment yield estimators. Three good approaches for sediment yield prediction were introduced based on the comparison. The three approaches were applied to predict annual sediment yields which were consequently translated into suspended sediment concentrations. SSC were predicted at 47 locations widely distributed around Europe. The verification of the methodology was carried out using data from the Czech Republic. Observed SSC were compared against the predicted ones which validated the methodology for SSC prediction.
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