Alternate bars are large-scale bedforms characterised by an ordered sequence of scour zones and depositional diagonal fronts alternating along channel banks, which are typical of straight channelized rivers. Due to their high relief and migration properties, they represent a problem in river management, because they affect navigation, increase the flooding risk and interact with instream structures. For this reason, in the last decades many studies took the challenge of defining suitable criteria able to describe their morphometric properties. Theoretical, experimental and numerical works have clearly demonstrated that bar occurrence is a threshold process governed by the width-to-depth ratio of the channel, β. If this parameter exceeds a critical threshold, βcr, an instability mechanism amplifies the riverbed perturbations occurring due to the effect of the turbulent flow on the cohesionless riverbed, leading to the spontaneous growth of finite amplitude bars. Under steady flow conditions, alternate bars achieve an equilibrium configuration, whose amplitude value is related to the difference β-βcr. Much less information is available to describe bar characteristics under variable flow conditions, when the width-to-depth ratio changes in time and the amplitude of bars evolves depending on the duration and the shape of the hydrograph. The effect of a single idealized flood on bar amplitude evolution was successfully described by the weakly nonlinear model of Tubino (1991), which was able to capture the trajectory of bar amplitude during different stages of the flood. Supported by experimental results, he found that the response of bars crucially depends on the ratio between the flood duration and the bar-growth timescale. Nevertheless, the effect of a complex flow regime, characterised by a sequence of flow events, is to a large extent unexplored. Specifically, (i) the definition of a criterion to predict the average response of alternate bars in a river reach subject to an hydrological flow regime and (ii) the quantification of bar amplitude evolution due to a complex flow regime are still to a large extent unexplored. The goals of this work are: (i) to investigate the dependence of bar properties to variable discharge conditions; (ii) to analyse the effect of flow unsteadiness in terms of duration and sequencing of flood events and derive the main hydrological characteristics that primarily control the average response of bar amplitude; (iii) to determine the long-term bar geometry and define the "bar-forming'' discharge, which is the theoretical discharge that if maintained indefinitely would produce the same long-term bar response as the natural hydrograph; (iv) to analyse the effect that a sequence of flood events composing a complex flow series has on the evolution of bar amplitude. To pursue these purposes, we adopted a methodology primary based on theoretical models, then supported and validated through the analysis of laboratory experiments and field data. The methodology and the key results for the different parts of this thesis can be summarized as follows: 1. First, the response of bar topography to different flow stages has been investigated both theoretically and through the analysis of experimental data, observing the dependence of alternate bars to peculiar threshold conditions. The validity of weakly nonlinear model of Colombini et al. (1987), originally defined in the neighborhood of the critical condition βcr, has been extended taking into account the emersion of bars for low flows. 2. Subsequently, the average response of bars to idealized flow series has been analysed, exploring their dependence on the duration and sequencing of flood events. The probability density function has been found to be the essential hydrological information of the flow series required to determine the long-term response of bar amplitude, while the integral scale of flow sequence is a suitable metric to quantify the unsteadiness of a flow regime. 3. Then, an innovative approach has been introduced to define an occurrence criterion for alternate bars in straightened river reaches that accounts for the hydrological regime, and to determine the average bar state, with the corresponding "bar-forming'' discharge. The key novelty with respect to the classical methods adopted so far to predict the long-term equilibrium channel geometry is that in this case the morphodynamical work acted on river bars by relatively low-flow stages enhancing their formation can be reversed by high-flow stages that suppress them. Therefore, both the occurrence criterion and the average state are found from a balance between the cumulative effects of bar-forming and bar-suppressing events. 4. Finally, the weakly nonlinear model of Colombini et al. (1987), originally defined to predict the evolution of bars under steady flow conditions, has been extended to reproduce a natural flow series by considering the basic flow varying in time. This approach allows us to (i) statistically investigate the effect of flood magnitude and duration on the variations of bar amplitude and (ii) to simulate the morphological response of a river to alterations of the hydrological regime.The long-term analysis of bar amplitude, as such as its evolution subject to the hydrological flow regime, have been applied to four different study cases, each of them characterised by a distinctive average bar response: two reaches of the Alpine Rhine River, upstream and downstream the confluence of the River Ill (Switzerland), respectively, the Adige River near Trento (Italy) and the Isère River near Montmèlian (France). The theoretical model is able to capture both qualitatively and quantitatively the observed bed response. Specifically, it predicts the occurrence of high-relief bars for the upstream reach of the Alpine Rhine River and for the Isère River, while a plane configuration is predicted for the Adige River. Also the intermediate response of the downstream reach of the Alpine Rhine River is reproduced, showing a predominant flat bed morphology with sporadic low-relief bars.

The response of river bar topography to the hydrological flow regime / Carlin, Mattia. - (2021 Jul 21), pp. 1-209. [10.15168/11572_312573]

The response of river bar topography to the hydrological flow regime

Carlin, Mattia
2021-07-21

Abstract

Alternate bars are large-scale bedforms characterised by an ordered sequence of scour zones and depositional diagonal fronts alternating along channel banks, which are typical of straight channelized rivers. Due to their high relief and migration properties, they represent a problem in river management, because they affect navigation, increase the flooding risk and interact with instream structures. For this reason, in the last decades many studies took the challenge of defining suitable criteria able to describe their morphometric properties. Theoretical, experimental and numerical works have clearly demonstrated that bar occurrence is a threshold process governed by the width-to-depth ratio of the channel, β. If this parameter exceeds a critical threshold, βcr, an instability mechanism amplifies the riverbed perturbations occurring due to the effect of the turbulent flow on the cohesionless riverbed, leading to the spontaneous growth of finite amplitude bars. Under steady flow conditions, alternate bars achieve an equilibrium configuration, whose amplitude value is related to the difference β-βcr. Much less information is available to describe bar characteristics under variable flow conditions, when the width-to-depth ratio changes in time and the amplitude of bars evolves depending on the duration and the shape of the hydrograph. The effect of a single idealized flood on bar amplitude evolution was successfully described by the weakly nonlinear model of Tubino (1991), which was able to capture the trajectory of bar amplitude during different stages of the flood. Supported by experimental results, he found that the response of bars crucially depends on the ratio between the flood duration and the bar-growth timescale. Nevertheless, the effect of a complex flow regime, characterised by a sequence of flow events, is to a large extent unexplored. Specifically, (i) the definition of a criterion to predict the average response of alternate bars in a river reach subject to an hydrological flow regime and (ii) the quantification of bar amplitude evolution due to a complex flow regime are still to a large extent unexplored. The goals of this work are: (i) to investigate the dependence of bar properties to variable discharge conditions; (ii) to analyse the effect of flow unsteadiness in terms of duration and sequencing of flood events and derive the main hydrological characteristics that primarily control the average response of bar amplitude; (iii) to determine the long-term bar geometry and define the "bar-forming'' discharge, which is the theoretical discharge that if maintained indefinitely would produce the same long-term bar response as the natural hydrograph; (iv) to analyse the effect that a sequence of flood events composing a complex flow series has on the evolution of bar amplitude. To pursue these purposes, we adopted a methodology primary based on theoretical models, then supported and validated through the analysis of laboratory experiments and field data. The methodology and the key results for the different parts of this thesis can be summarized as follows: 1. First, the response of bar topography to different flow stages has been investigated both theoretically and through the analysis of experimental data, observing the dependence of alternate bars to peculiar threshold conditions. The validity of weakly nonlinear model of Colombini et al. (1987), originally defined in the neighborhood of the critical condition βcr, has been extended taking into account the emersion of bars for low flows. 2. Subsequently, the average response of bars to idealized flow series has been analysed, exploring their dependence on the duration and sequencing of flood events. The probability density function has been found to be the essential hydrological information of the flow series required to determine the long-term response of bar amplitude, while the integral scale of flow sequence is a suitable metric to quantify the unsteadiness of a flow regime. 3. Then, an innovative approach has been introduced to define an occurrence criterion for alternate bars in straightened river reaches that accounts for the hydrological regime, and to determine the average bar state, with the corresponding "bar-forming'' discharge. The key novelty with respect to the classical methods adopted so far to predict the long-term equilibrium channel geometry is that in this case the morphodynamical work acted on river bars by relatively low-flow stages enhancing their formation can be reversed by high-flow stages that suppress them. Therefore, both the occurrence criterion and the average state are found from a balance between the cumulative effects of bar-forming and bar-suppressing events. 4. Finally, the weakly nonlinear model of Colombini et al. (1987), originally defined to predict the evolution of bars under steady flow conditions, has been extended to reproduce a natural flow series by considering the basic flow varying in time. This approach allows us to (i) statistically investigate the effect of flood magnitude and duration on the variations of bar amplitude and (ii) to simulate the morphological response of a river to alterations of the hydrological regime.The long-term analysis of bar amplitude, as such as its evolution subject to the hydrological flow regime, have been applied to four different study cases, each of them characterised by a distinctive average bar response: two reaches of the Alpine Rhine River, upstream and downstream the confluence of the River Ill (Switzerland), respectively, the Adige River near Trento (Italy) and the Isère River near Montmèlian (France). The theoretical model is able to capture both qualitatively and quantitatively the observed bed response. Specifically, it predicts the occurrence of high-relief bars for the upstream reach of the Alpine Rhine River and for the Isère River, while a plane configuration is predicted for the Adige River. Also the intermediate response of the downstream reach of the Alpine Rhine River is reproduced, showing a predominant flat bed morphology with sporadic low-relief bars.
XXXIII
2019-2020
Ingegneria civile, ambientale e mecc (29/10/12-)
Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering
Tubino, Marco
Redolfi, Marco
no
Inglese
Italiano
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