Heat Budget of Large Rivers: Sensitivity to Stream Morphology

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Stephen Thomas Lancaster and Roy Haggerty, Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, United States
In order to assess the feasibility of effecting measurable changes in the heat budget of a large river through restoration, we use a numerical model to analyze the sensitivity of that heat budget to morphological manipulations, specifically those resulting in a narrower main channel with more alcoves. We base model parameters primarily on the gravel-bedded middle Snake River near Marsing, Idaho. The heat budget is represented by an advection-dispersion-reaction equation with, in addition to radiative, evaporative, and sensible heat fluxes, a hyporheic flux term that models lateral flow from the main stream, through bars, and into alcoves and side channels. This term effectively introduces linear dispersion of water temperatures with respect to time, so that the magnitude of the hyporheic term in the heat budget is expected to scale with the ``hyporheic number," defined as , where is dimensionless hyporheic flow rate and is dimensionless mean residence time of water entering the hyporheic zone. Simulations varying the parameters for channel width and hyporheic flow indicate that, for a large river such as the middle Snake River, feasible changes in channel width would produce downstream changes in heat flux an order of magnitude larger than would relatively extreme changes in hyporheic number. Changes, such as reduced channel width and increased hyporheic number, that tend to reduce temperatures in the summer, when temperatures are increasing with time and downstream distance, actually tend to increase temperatures in the fall, when temperatures are decreasing with time and distance.