The relationship between flow and bed load transport measured for 10 years in six gravel‐bed streams in Idaho exhibits annual hysteresis. At a given flow rate, more bed load is carried by discharges preceding the first annual occurrence of a “threshold” rate, which is characteristic of each stream. Incorporating the effect of hysteresis leads to a small improvement in the fit of the bed load–flow regression. As the turning point for hysteresis, a constant threshold discharge is found to work better than the annual peak discharge. This bimodal hysteresis model is also found to out perform one with a more gradual transition, based on cumulative discharge. These results are interpreted to reflect a buildup of readily moved sediment supplies during the low‐flow periods from late summer to early spring, supplies which are then exhausted by rising springtime discharges up to the threshold. The threshold is greater than mean annual discharge and about one‐half bank‐full discharge.
Water Resources Research – Wiley
Published: Sep 1, 1998
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