Fine sediment delivery and transfer in lowland catchments: modelling suspended sediment concentrations in response to hydrological forcing
Jarritt, N. P. and Lawrence, D. S. L. (2007) Fine sediment delivery and transfer in lowland catchments: modelling suspended sediment concentrations in response to hydrological forcing. Hydrological Processes, 21 (20). pp. 2729-2744. ISSN 0885-6087
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/hyp.6402
Fine sediment delivery to and storage in stream channel reaches can disrupt aquatic habitats, impact river hydromorphology, and transfer adsorbed nutrients and pollutants from catchment slopes to the fluvial system. This paper presents a modelling toot for simulating the time-dependent response of the fine sediment system in catchments, using an integrated approach that incorporates both land phase and in-stream processes of sediment generation, storage and transfer. The performance of the model is demonstrated by applying it to simulate in-stream suspended sediment concentrations in two lowland catchments in southern England, the Enborne and the Lambourn, which exhibit contrasting hydrological and sediment responses due to differences in substrate permeability. The sediment model performs well in the Enborne catchment, where direct runoff events are frequent and peak suspended sediment concentrations can exceed 600 mg l(-1). The general trends in the in-stream concentrations in the Lambourn catchment are also reproduced by the model, although the observed concentrations are low (rarely exceeding 50 mg l(-1)) and the background variability in the concentrations is not fully characterized by the model. Direct runoff events are rare in this highly permeable catchment, resulting in a weak coupling between the sediment delivery system and the catchment hydrology. The generic performance of the model is also assessed using a generalized sensitivity analysis based on the parameter bounds identified in the catchment applications. Results indicate that the hydrological parameters contributing to the sediment response include those controlling (1) the partitioning of runoff between surface and soil zone flows and (2) the fractional loss of direct runoff volume prior to channel delivery. The principal sediment processes controlling model behaviour in the simulations are the transport capacity of direct runoff and the in-stream generation, storage and release of the fine sediment fraction. The in-stream processes appear to be important in maintaining the suspended sediment concentrations during low flows in the River Enborne and throughout much of the year in the River Lambourn. Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.