Hydrological Signature From River-Floodplain Interactions

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Ayan Santos Fleischmann, Rodrigo C. D. Paiva, Walter Collischonn, Mino Sorribas and Paulo Rogenes Pontes, UFRGS Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Institute of Hydraulic Research, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Understanding river-floodplain hydraulic processes is fundamental to promote comprehension of related water paths, biogeochemicalcyclesand ecosystems. Large river basins around the globe present enormous developed floodplains, which strongly affect flood waves and water dynamics. Since most of these river-floodplain interactions are not monitored, it is interesting to develop strategies to understand such processes through characteristic hydrological signatures, e.g. hydrographs. We studied observed hydrographs from large South American rivers and found that in several cases rivers with extensive wetlands present a particular hydrograph shape, with slower rising limb in relation to the receding one, due to storage effects and the associated decrease of wave celerity with stage. A negative asymmetry in the hydrograph is generated, which is higher when more water flows through floodplains upstream of the observed point. Finally, we studied the Amazon basin using gauged information and simulation results from the MGB-IPH regional hydrological model. Major rivers with larger wetland areas (e.g. Purus, Madeira and Juruá) were identified with higher negative asymmetry in their hydrographs. The hydrodynamic model was run in scenarios with and without floodplains, and results supported that floodplain storage affects hydrographs in creating a negative asymmetry, besides attenuating peaks, increasing hydrograph smoothness and increasing minimum flows. Finally, different wetland types could be distinguished with hydrograph shape, e.g. differing wetlands fed by local rainfall from wetlands due to overbank flow (floodplains). These metrics and concepts on hydrograph features have great potential to infer about river-floodplain processes from large rivers and wetland systems.