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River adjustment and flood hazards on the Colorado Front Range




Sholtes, Joel, author
Bledsoe, Brian, author

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Stream power, a hydraulic metric representing the potential erosive energy of a flood, is relatively easy to estimate using remotely sensed data and can perform well in predicting channel response to floods. Using a dense network of peak discharge estimates from the 2013 Front Range floods and LiDAR-derived digital elevation models, we estimated stream power and related metrics at the reach scale along 16 stream and river segments in the Front Range of Colorado. Channel response to the floods was qualitatively categorized, and channel width and net erosion and deposition were measured at the reach scale. With these observations and measurements, we evaluated the relationship between stream power and geomorphic metrics and channel response to floods by applying statistical models and evaluating downstream trends in channel response. As a proof of concept, we applied the best performing empirical model to predict channel response to a range of flood frequencies. Finally, we participated in developing a framework for mapping the "fluvial hazard zone" within the State of Colorado, which will be further refined and piloted in 2017.


August 2016.

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floodplain management
flood hazards
stream power
floodplain mapping
statistical modeling


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