Quantifying Fluid Retention Due to Natural Vegetation in a Forest Floodplain Analogue Using the Aggregated Dead Zone (ADZ) Dilution Approach

Paul A. Carling*, Julian Leyland, Maarten G. Kleinhans, Louison Besozzi, Pierre Duranton, Hai Trieu, Roy Teske

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Fluid retention and flow resistance due to natural vegetation remain poorly understood despite the importance of understanding these for flow routing and floodplain revegetation projects. Experiments were undertaken in a shallow earthen channel containing a natural cover of small trees, herbaceous plants, and leaf litter, which were sequentially removed and subjected to a range of flows. A dilution monitoring approach within the Aggregated Dead Zone framework was applied to a series of floodplain vegetated flows, yielding information on bulk flow parameters including tracer dispersion, fluid retention, and flow resistance at the reach scale. The primary response of flow to vegetation removal was a small increase in bulk velocity, with depth and wetted width decreasing only slightly. Reach mean travel time and the advective time delay decreased by about a factor of 2 with the removal of herbs, grass, and leaf litter, leaving only trees. Removing the trees, leaving a bare earthen channel, only slightly decreased travel times. Flow resistance and retention exhibited large values for low discharge and converged on a constant low value for relatively high discharges. It is concluded that flow resistance during low flow is higher than in a high flow with the same vegetation. Consequently, sparse vegetation has a prominent effect on hydraulic retention compared with an unvegetated channel at low discharges but this becomes negligible during high discharges as momentum increasingly dominates the flow. This outcome casts doubt on the efficacy of scrubby vegetation to impede higher-velocity floodplain flows, showing need for field-scale determination of integral floodplain resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020WR027070
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume56
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020

Keywords

  • ADZ model
  • dilution
  • floodplain forest
  • flow resistance
  • fluid mixing
  • tracer dispersion

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