The Hydrodynamics of Pool-Riffle Sequences with Changing Bedform Length
Obach, Lana M.
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Previous research has demonstrated that pool-riffle bedforms play a critical role in channel stability and ecosystem health in many natural gravel-bed channels. Although the bedform length is known to scale with channel width, no experimental research has yet isolated the effect of bedform length on pool-riffle hydrodynamics. To improve the understanding of the hydrodynamics of these bedforms so that they can be better incorporated in restoration practices, flume experiments were conducted testing the flow at seven different bedform lengths. Velocity profiles are measured in a 17 m flume with movable PVC bedforms using ultrasonic velocity profilers (UVPs). Smooth two-dimensional (no sinuosity) bedforms are used in order to isolate the key dynamics in convective acceleration and deceleration. The angle of transition between pool and riffle heights was 7°, so that permanent flow separation did not occur. Parameters calculated from the velocity and turbulence profiles include the Coles’ wake parameter (a measure of the deviation from the log law), shear stress estimated from the velocity profile, shear stress estimated from the Reynolds shear stress, and vertical velocity. From the individual velocity time series, the integral length scale and the integral time scales are also calculated. Overall, the length of riffles and pools exert a fundamental control on the distribution of flow and turbulence within a channel. In the pool, energy is dissipated both through turbulence and as the flow is redistributed to uniform flow conditions. In the riffle, kinetic energy increases as the flow velocity increases, and as the length increases, the flow moves towards a new uniform flow condition. The results start to explain the reasons behind the persistent scaling relation between width and bedform length. It can be concluded that uniform flow conditions exist at the end of the pool when the bedform length ratio is greater than approximately 1:5.0 when the riffle length is held constant, and that uniform flow conditions are no longer observed at the end of the pool when the bedform length ratio exceeds 1:7.0 when the pool length is held constant. Future research should concentrate on extending the results to include three-dimensional pool-riffle configurations, repeating bedform configurations, internal scaling parameters, and sediment transport. Ultimately, as the hydrodynamics of pool-riffle sequences are better understood, better bedform designs can be implemented in restoration projects.