Large woody debris and flow resistance in step-pool channels, Cascade Range, Washington

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Total flow resistance, measured as Darcy-Weisbach f, in 20 step-pool channels with large woody debris (LWD) in Washington, ranged from 5 to 380 during summer low flows. Step risers in the study streams consist of either (1) large and relatively immobile woody debris, bedrock, or roots that form fixed, or “forced,” steps, or (2) smaller and relatively mobile wood or clasts, or a mixture of both, arranged across the channel by the stream. Flow resistance in step-pool channels may be partitioned into grain, form, and spill resistance. Grain resistance is calculated as a function of particle size, and form resistance is calculated as large woody debris drag. Combined, grain and form resistance account for less than 10% of the total flow resistance. We initially assumed that the substantial remaining portion is spill resistance attributable to steps. However, measured step characteristics could not explain between-reach variations in flow resistance. This suggests that other factors may be significant; the coefficient of variation of the hydraulic radius explained 43% of the variation in friction factors between streams, for example. Large woody debris generates form resistance on step treads and spill resistance at step risers. Because the form resistance of step-pool channels is relatively minor compared to spill resistance and because wood in steps accentuates spill resistance by increasing step height, we suggest that wood in step risers influences channel hydraulics more than wood elsewhere in the channel. Hence, the distribution and function, not just abundance, of large woody debris is critical in steep, step-pool channels.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Large woody debris and flow resistance in step-pool channels, Cascade Range, Washington
Series title Geomorphology
DOI 10.1016/S0169-555X(02)00333-1
Volume 51
Issue 1-3
Year Published 2003
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 141
Last page 157
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Cascade Range
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