The exceptional sediment load of fine-grained dispersal systems: Example of the Yellow River, China

Hongbo Ma, Jeffrey A. Nittrouer, Kensuke Naito, Xudong Fu, Yuanfeng Zhang, Andrew J. Moodie, Yuanjian Wang, Baosheng Wu, Gary Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sedimentary dispersal systems with fine-grained beds are common, yet the physics of sediment movement within them remains poorly constrained. We analyze sediment transport data for the best-documented, fine-grained river worldwide, the Huanghe (Yellow River) of China, where sediment flux is underpredicted by an order of magnitude according to well-accepted sediment transport relations. Our theoretical framework, bolstered by field observations, demonstrates that the Huanghe tends toward upper-stage plane bed, yielding minimal form drag, thus markedly enhancing sediment transport efficiency.We present a sediment transport formulation applicable to all river systems with silt to coarse-sand beds. This formulation demonstrates a remarkably sensitive dependence on grain size within a certain narrow range and therefore has special relevance to silt-sand fluvial systems, particularly those affected by dams. 2017

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1603114
JournalScience Advances
Volume3
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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