Modeling highly transient flow, mass, and heat transport in the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, Georgia

Professional Paper 1136




A coupled flow-temperature model has been developed and verified for a 27.9-km reach of the Chattahoochee River between Buford Dam and Norcross, Ga. Flow in this reach of the Chattahoochee is continuous but highly regulated by Buford Dam, a flood-control and hydroelectric facility located near Buford, Ga. Calibration and verification utilized two sets of data collected under highly unsteady discharge conditions. Existing solution techniques, with certain minor improvements, were applied to verify the existing technology of flow and transport modeling. The linear, implicit finite-difference flow model was calibrated by use of a depth profile obtained at steady low flow and unsteady flow data obtained in March 1976. During the calibration period, the model was generally able to reproduce observed stages to within 0.15 m and discharges at less than 100 m 3 /s, to within 5 percent. Peak discharges of about 200 m 3 /s were under-estimated by about 20 percent. During the verification period, October 1975, the flow model reproduced observed stage changes to within about 0.15 m, and its timing and over-all performance was considered to be very good. Dye was added to the upstream end of the river reach at a constant rate while the river flow was highly unsteady. The numerical solution of either the conservative or nonconservative form of the mass-transport equation did an excellent job of simulating the observed concentrations of dye in the river. The temperature model was capable of predicting temperature changes through this reach of as large as 5.8?C with a RMS (root-mean-square) error of 0.32?C in October 1975 and 0.20?C in March 1976. Hydropulsation has a significant effect on the water temperature below Buford Dam. These effects are very complicated because they are quite dependent on the timing of the release with respect to both the time of day and past releases.

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Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Modeling highly transient flow, mass, and heat transport in the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, Georgia
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
41 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Chattahoochee River