Flow resistance dynamics in step-pool stream channels: 1. Large woody debris and controls on total resistance

Andrew C. Wilcox, Ellen E. Wohl

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98 Scopus citations


Flow resistance dynamics in step-pool channels were investigated through physical modeling using a laboratory flume. Variables contributing to flow resistance in step-pool channels were manipulated in order to measure the effects of various large woody debris (LWD) configurations, steps, grains, discharge, and slope on total flow resistance. This entailed nearly 400 flume runs, organized into a series of factorial experiments. Factorial analyses of variance indicated significant two-way and three-way interaction effects between steps, grains, and LWD, illustrating the complexity of flow resistance in these channels. Interactions between steps and LWD resulted in substantially greater flow resistance for steps with LWD than for steps lacking LWD. LWD position contributed to these interactions, whereby LWD pieces located near the lip of steps, analogous to step-forming debris in natural channels, increased the effective height of steps and created substantially higher flow resistance than pieces located farther upstream on step treads. Step geometry and LWD density and orientation also had highly significant effects on flow resistance. Flow resistance dynamics and the resistance effect of bed roughness configurations were strongly discharge-dependent; discharge had both highly significant main effects on resistance and highly significant interactions with all other variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberW05418
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006


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