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Amplification of downstream flood stage due to damming of fine-grained rivers

Ma, Hongbo and Nittrouer, Jeffrey A. and Fu, Xudong and Parker, Gary and Zhang, Yuanfeng and Wang, Yuanjian and Wang, Yanjun and Lamb, Michael P. and Cisneros, Julia and Best, Jim and Parsons, Daniel R. and Wu, Baosheng (2022) Amplification of downstream flood stage due to damming of fine-grained rivers. Nature Communications, 13 . Art. No. 3054. ISSN 2041-1723. PMCID PMC9160006. doi:10.1038/s41467-022-30730-9.

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River dams provide many benefits, including flood control. However, due to constantly evolving channel morphology, downstream conveyance of floodwaters following dam closure is difficult to predict. Here, we test the hypothesis that the incised, enlarged channel downstream of dams provides enhanced water conveyance, using a case study from the lower Yellow River, China. We find that, although flood stage is lowered for small floods, counterintuitively, flood stage downstream of a dam can be amplified for moderate and large floods. This arises because bed incision is accompanied by sediment coarsening, which facilitates development of large dunes that increase flow resistance and reduce velocity relative to pre-dam conditions. Our findings indicate the underlying mechanism for such flood amplification may occur in >80% of fine-grained rivers, and suggest the need to reconsider flood control strategies in such rivers worldwide.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle
Ma, Hongbo0000-0002-6017-8113
Nittrouer, Jeffrey A.0000-0002-4762-0157
Fu, Xudong0000-0003-0744-0546
Parker, Gary0000-0001-5973-5296
Zhang, Yuanfeng0000-0003-1966-0108
Wang, Yuanjian0000-0003-0831-4293
Lamb, Michael P.0000-0002-5701-0504
Cisneros, Julia0000-0001-6451-4180
Best, Jim0000-0001-5314-6140
Parsons, Daniel R.0000-0002-5142-4466
Wu, Baosheng0000-0002-7149-0276
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 18 January 2021; Accepted 16 May 2022; Published 01 June 2022. We thank A. Moodie for post-processing the MBES data and Z.Li for his comments on extreme floods induced by climate change. We appreciate the careful and constructive reviews from Profs Samuel Munoz, Gordan Grant, and an anonymous reviewer. H.M., J.A.N., M.P.L., and G.P. gratefully acknowledge the NSF of the United States for support through Division of Earth Science (EAR) Grant 1427262. X.F. was supported by NSF of China through Grant 51525901. Y.Z. acknowledges support from NSF of China through Grant 51379087. Y.W.(a) acknowledges support from NSF of China through Grant 42041004. J.C. was supported by NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (grant no. DGE-1746047) and also the Department of Geology, University of Illinois, and the Jack and Richard C. Threet chair to J.B. Data availability: The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are provided in the article and the Supplementary Information file, and are also available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request. Contributions: H.M. designed the study, drafted the paper and was leading author of the paper. J.A.N., G.P., M.P.L., and J.B. provided substantial editorial feedback. J.A.N., H.M., and D.P. conducted the multibeam survey at Lijin. Y.Z., X.F., and Y.W.(a) conducted the multibeam survey at Huayuankou. J.B., J.C., and Y.Z. conducted the parametric echo-sounder bed surveys at Huayuankou. H.M., Y.W.(b), and B.W. analyzed the historical stage-discharge and cross-sectional data. J.C. processed the parametric echo sounding survey data and analyzed the bedform statistics. M.P.L. and H.M. developed the relations among dune height, resistance and suspension number. All authors participated in discussion and writing of the paper. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer review information: Nature Communications thanks Gordon Grant, Samuel Munoz and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Natural Science Foundation of China51525901
National Natural Science Foundation of China51379087
National Natural Science Foundation of China42041004
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-1746047
University of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Environmental impact; Hydrology; Limnology; Natural hazards
PubMed Central ID:PMC9160006
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220610-218864900
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Official Citation:Ma, H., Nittrouer, J.A., Fu, X. et al. Amplification of downstream flood stage due to damming of fine-grained rivers. Nat Commun 13, 3054 (2022).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:115132
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Jun 2022 21:57
Last Modified:13 Jun 2022 17:02

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