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The sediment yield of South Korean rivers




Yang, Chun-Yao, author
Julien, Pierre Y., advisor
Ettema, Robert, committee member
Nelson, Peter, committee member
Rathburn, Sara L., committee member

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South Korea is experiencing increasing river sedimentation problems, which requires a reliable method to predict the sediment yield. With the recent field measurements at 35 gaging stations in South Korea provided by K-water, we quantified the sediment yield by using the flow duration curve and sediment rating curve. The current sediment yield models have large discrepancies between the predictions and measurements. The goal of this dissertation is to provide better understanding to the following questions: (1) How much of the total sediment load can be measured by the depth-integrated samplers? (2) Can we predict the sediment yield based only on watershed area? (3) Is there a parametric approach to estimate the mean annual sediment yield based on the flow duration curve and sediment rating curve? With 1,962 sediment discharge measurements from the US D-74 sampler, the total sediment discharge is calculated by both the Modified Einstein Procedure (MEP) and the Series Expansion of the Modified Einstein Procedure (SEMEP). It is concluded that the SEMEP is more accurate because MEP occasionally computes suspended loads larger than total loads. In addition, SEMEP was able to calculate all samples while MEP could only compute 1,808 samples. According to SEMEP, the ratio Qm/Qt of measured sediment discharge Qm to total sediment discharge Qt is a function of the Rouse number Ro, flow depth h, and the median grain size of the bed material d50. In Korean sand and gravel bed rivers, the materials in suspension are fine (silt or clay) and Ro ≈ 0. The ratio Qm/Qt reduces to a function of flow depth h, and at least 90% of the total sediment load is measured when h > 1 m. More than 80% of the sediment load is measured when the discharge Q is larger than four times mean annual discharge ¯Q(Q/¯Q > 4). The ratio Qs/Qt of suspended sediment discharge Qs to total sediment discharge can be also analyzed with SEMEP and the result shows that Qs/Qt is a function of h/d50 and Ro. When Ro ≈ 0, the ratio Qs/Qt increases with h/d50. The suspended load is more than 80% of the total sediment load when h/d50 > 18. The relationship between specific sediment yield, SSY, and watershed area, A, is SSY = 300A-0.24 with an average error of 75%. Besides the specific sediment yield, the mean annual discharge, the normalized flow duration curve, the sediment rating curve, the normalized cumulative distribution curve, and the half yield discharge vary with watershed area. From the normalized flow duration curve at an exceedance probability of 0.1%, small watersheds (A<500 km2) have 42 <Q /¯Q < 63, compared to large watersheds (A > 5000 km2) which have 14 < Q/¯Q < 33. In terms of sediment rating curves, at a given discharge, the sediment load of small watersheds is one order of magnitude higher than for large watersheds. From the normalized cumulative distribution curves, the half yield (50% of the sediment transported) occurs when the discharge is at least 15 times the mean discharge. In comparison, the half yield for large watersheds corresponds to Q/¯Q < 15. The flow duration curve can be parameterized with â and ˆb by using a double logarithmic fit to the flow duration curve. This parametric approach is tested with 35 Korean watersheds and 716 US watersheds. The value of â generally increases with watershed area. The values of ˆb are consistently between 0.5 and 2.5 east of the Mississippi River and the Pacific Northwest. Large variability in ˆb is found in the High Plains and in Southern California, which is attributed to the high flashiness index in these regions. A four-parameter model is defined when combining with the sediment rating curve. The four parameters are: â and ˆb for the flow duration curve, and ā and ¯b for the sediment rating curve. The mean annual discharge ¯Qs is calculated by ¯Qs = āâ¯bΓ(1+ ˆb¯b). The model results are compared to the flow-duration/sediment-rating curve method. The average error of this four-parameter model is only 8.6%. The parameters can also be used to calculate the cumulative distribution curves for discharge and sediment load.


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mean annual sediment yield
sediment yield
flow duration curve
South Korea
modified Einstein procedure


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