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Evaluating the Sensitivity of Cross Section Positioning when Computing Peak Flow Discharge using the Slope-Area Computation in a Mountain Stream
AuthorForbes, Brandon Tracy
AdvisorGuertin, David P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe slope-area method is a commonly used and widely accepted technique for estimating peak flood flows in rivers where direct discharge measurements could not be obtained during the flood. The method makes multiple assumptions to simplify calculations which include assuming uniform flow conditions between surveyed cross sections, and that losses of energy in the reach occur only due to bank friction. Even though flows in nature do not always exhibit these simplified conditions, this method has been proven to provide adequate results when compared to direct measurements and thus, has become the go-to approach. To conduct a slope-area computation, the hydrologist needs to make multiple assumptions in the field based on experience, judgment, and published resources as guides. One of these assumptions is determining where to locate cross sections for the slope-area computation such that they sufficiently represent the cross-sectional area and slope of the channel. Traditional methods suggest to place the cross sections at breaks in the water surface slope. This research focuses on the variability of results of computed discharge values when cross sections are located at many different locations in the reach. What has been found is that many combinations of cross sections in the reach, including sections not located at the breaks in water surface slope, produce similar results when compared to the traditional methods. In fact, 121 of these combinations of cross sections produce peak discharge calculations within plus or minus five percent of the traditional methodology. What also was found was that variability in channel geometry goes unnoticed when using the traditional locating method, and losses due to expansion and contraction of flow area at locations which would not have been traditionally surveyed are occurring at multiple cross sections in the reach. The results suggest that reaches be evaluated for changes in geometry and not overlooked, so that the changes in shape, and subsequent losses in energy, be considered in the computation.
Degree ProgramGraduate College