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Global uncertainty analysis of suspended sediment monitoring using turbidimeter in a small mountainous river catchment

O. Navratil 1 M. Esteves 2 C. Legout 2 N. Gratiot 2 J. Némery 2 S. Willmore 1 T. Grangeon 2
2 RIVER
LTHE - Laboratoire d'étude des transferts en hydrologie et environnement
Abstract : A major challenge confronting the scientific community is to understand both patterns of and controls over spatial and temporal variability of suspended sediment dynamics in rivers, as these sediment govern nutriment export, river morphology, siltation of downstream reservoirs and degradation of water quality. High-frequency suspended sediment monitoring programs are required to meet this goal, particularly research in highly erodible mountainous catchments which supply the sediment load of the entire downstream fluvial network. However, in this context, analysis of the data and their interpretation are generally limited by many sources of uncertainty in river monitoring. This paper proposes to estimate the global uncertainty of suspended sediment monitoring using turbidimeter in a small mountainous river catchment (22 km2; Southern French Alps). We first conducted a detailed analysis of the main uncertainty components associated with the turbidity approach, i.e. a widely used method to continuously survey the suspended sediment concentration (SSC). These uncertainty components were then propagated with Monte Carlo simulations. For individual records, SSC uncertainties are found to be on average less than 10%, but they can reach 70%. At the flood scale, the mean and the maximum SSC uncertainties are on average 20% (range, 1-30%), whereas sediment yield uncertainty is a mean 30% (range, 20-50% depending on the flood considered; discharge error, 20%). Annual specific sediment yield (SSY*) was then 360 ± 100 t km−2 year−1. Uncertainty components associated with the automatic pumping procedure, discharge measurement and turbidity fluctuation at the short time scale were found to be the greatest uncertainties. SSC and SSY uncertainties were found highly site- and time-dependent as they vary significantly with the hydro-sedimentary conditions. This study demonstrates that global uncertainty accounts for only a small part of inter-flood SSC and SSY variability. It outlines the controlling factors of land use, relief, geology and rainfall regime on suspended sediment yields.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-00648837
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Submitted on : Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 2:55:19 PM
Last modification on : Friday, September 25, 2020 - 11:02:45 AM

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O. Navratil, M. Esteves, C. Legout, N. Gratiot, J. Némery, et al.. Global uncertainty analysis of suspended sediment monitoring using turbidimeter in a small mountainous river catchment. Journal of Hydrology, Elsevier, 2011, 398 (3-4), pp.246-259. ⟨10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.12.025⟩. ⟨insu-00648837⟩

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