Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012MT264B

Thresholds in fluvial systems: Flood-induced channel change on Montana rivers

Institute: Montana
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2014-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $27,766 Total Non-Federal Funds: $56,464

Principal Investigators: Andrew Wilcox

Abstract: The proposed research aims to identify the geomorphic effects of the 2011 floods, develop insight into why some rivers and sub-reaches of rivers are sensitive or resilient to change and methods to identify what channels are likely to be destabilized by or resilient to changes in the supplies of water, sediment, and wood from their contributing areas, and apply the resulting understanding of thresholds and resilience to management and restoration. The proposed work will combine flow and sediment transport analysis, aerial photograph analysis, hydraulic modeling, and field data collection of two Montana gravel-bed rivers. The research will provide insights into relationships between floods, sediment transport, woody debris, and channel adjustment. The analyses would develop estimates and comparisons of effective discharge (Qeff), transport capacity (Qc), and sediment supply (Qs), in the context of measured channel change, to develop insights into thresholds of change and controls on whether river reaches are sensitive or resilient to changes. One graduate student would be supported, and research results would be used in outreach and education efforts.