Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-491
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2021-491

  30 Sep 2021

30 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

A new large-scale suspended sediment model and its application over the United States

Hong-Yi Li1, Zeli Tan2, Hongbo Ma3, Zhenduo Zhu4, Guta Abeshu1, Senlin Zhu1,a, Sagy Cohen5, Tian Zhou2, Donghui Xu2, and Lai-Yung Ruby Leung2 Hong-Yi Li et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  • 2Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA
  • 3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA
  • 4Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA
  • 5Department of Geography, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
  • acurrently at: Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, China

Abstract. Suspended sediment plays a vital role in the regional and global cycling of carbon and nutrients by carrying carbon and nutrients from headwaters into lowland rivers and the oceans. Sediment transport through river systems is often fundamentally modified by human activities like reservoir management. However, a physically based representation of sediment transport is still missing in most existing earth system models (ESMs), which are essential tools for modeling and predicting earth system changes. Here, we introduce a multi-process river sediment module for ESMs, which includes: 1) hillslope soil erosion and sediment discharge into streams; 2) sediment transport processes through river networks; 3) reservoir operation based on the inflows from upstream areas and water demand from downstream areas; and 4) sediment trapping by reservoirs. All model parameters are estimated a priori without calibration. We apply this new sediment modeling framework to the contiguous United States and validate it against historical observations of monthly streamflow and sediment discharges at 35 river gauges. The model reasonably well captures the long-term balance and seasonal variations of suspended sediment in large river systems. Furthermore, our model results show that suspended sediment discharge in managed rivers is affected more by reservoirs' direct trapping of sediment particles than by their flow regulation. This new sediment module enables future modeling of the transportation and transformation of carbon and nutrients carried by the fine sediment along the river-ocean continuum to close the global carbon and nutrients cycles.

Hong-Yi Li et al.

Status: open (until 25 Nov 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Hong-Yi Li et al.

Data sets

A national map of riverine median bed-material particle size over CONUS Guta Wakbulcho Abeshu, Hong-Yi Li, Zhenduo Zhu, Zeli Tan, and L. Ruby Leung https://essd.copernicus.org/preprints/essd-2021-201/

Hong-Yi Li et al.

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Short summary
We introduce a new multi-process river sediment module for the Earth System models. Application and validation over the contiguous U.S. indicate a satisfactory model performance over large river systems, including those heavily regulated by reservoirs. This new sediment module enables future modeling of the transportation and transformation of carbon and nutrients carried by the fine sediment along the river-ocean continuum to close the global carbon and nutrients cycles.