Research Publications: UM-SG-RS-2016-22


An improved method for interpretation of riverine concentration-discharge relationships indicates long-term shifts in reservoir sediment trapping.




Zhang, Q; Harman, CJ; Ball, WP


Geophysical Research Letters
43 ( 19 ) : 10215 - 10224




Derived from river monitoring data, concentration-discharge (C-Q) relationships are powerful indicators of export dynamics. Proper interpretation of such relationships can be made complex, however, if the ln(C)-ln(Q) relationships are nonlinear or if the relationships change over time, season, or discharge. Methods of addressing these issues by binning data can introduce artifacts that obscure underlying interactions among time, discharge, and season. Here we illustrate these issues and propose an alternative method that uses the regression coefficients of the recently developed Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season model for examining C-Q relationships in long-term, discretely sampled data for various water-quality constituents, including their uncertainties. The method is applied to sediment concentration data from Susquehanna River at Conowingo Dam, Maryland, to illustrate how the coefficients can be accessed and presented in ways that provide additional insights toward the interpretation of river water-quality data, which reaffirms the recently documented decadal-scale decline in reservoir trapping performance.

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