Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016MD337B

Comparison of velocity, momentum, and flood wave celerity in natural versus channelized Coastal Plain streams

Institute: Maryland
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-05-01 End Date: 2017-04-30
Total Federal Funds: $23,746 Total Non-Federal Funds: $47,492

Principal Investigators: Karen Prestegaard

Abstract: Stream velocity is sensitive to channel gradient, flow depth (a function of river size and flow stage), flow resistance (caused by channel form, bed particle size, and boundary vegetation). In many river systems, velocity increases only slightly in the downstream direction because the downstream decrease in stream gradient is offset by an increase in channel depth and a decrease in flow resistance. In many Coastal Plain streams, however, gradient decreases asymptotically to near zero resulting in wide, shallow channels with significant over-bank flooding onto forested floodplains. This partitioning of discharge onto forested floodplains with high flow resistance results in low velocities in undisturbed Coastal Plain streams. These low gradient, vegetated channels, however, are difficult to gauge measure. Therefore, the consequence of urban development and stream channelization on velocity and momentum distributions in these streams is poorly understood. The purpose of this study is to develop and use in-situ techniques to measure velocity in these low gradient streams and to compare velocity, momentum, and flood wave propagation in forested Coastal Plain streams with channelized Coastal Plain streams. Field data gathering and monitoring procedures designed to study these streams will be integrated into class exercises in the Geology department.