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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2020-3
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2020-3
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 28 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 28 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal ESurf and is expected to appear here in due course.

Scale-breaks of suspended sediment rating in large rivers in Germany induced by organic matter

Thomas O. Hoffmann1, Yannik Baulig1, Helmut Fischer1, and Jan Blöthe2 Thomas O. Hoffmann et al.
  • 1Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde, 56068 Koblenz, Germany
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany

Abstract. Understanding the dynamics of suspended sediment and associated nutrients is of major relevance for sustainable sediment management aiming to achieve healthy river systems. Sediment rating curves are frequently used to analyze the dynamics of suspended sediments and their potential sources and sinks. Here we are using more than 750 000 measurements of the suspended sediment concentrations (SSC) and discharge at 62 gauging stations along 19 waterways in Germany based on the suspended sediment monitoring network of the German water and shipping authority, which started in the 1960ties. Furthermore, we analyse more than 2000 measurements of the loss on ignition (LOI) of suspended matter at two stations along the rivers Moselle and Rhine to asses the mineral and organic fraction of the suspended matter. SSC and LOI are analysed in terms of the power law rating to identify discharge depended process regimes of suspended matter.

Our results indicate that for most studied gauging stations, rating coefficients are not constant over the full discharge range, but there is a distinct break in the sediment rating curve, with specific SSC-Q domains above and below this break. The transition of the rating exponent is likely to be a result of a change of controlling factors of the suspended sediment from intrinsic organic matter formation at low flows to extrinsic sediment supply (including mineral and organic fractions) due to hillslope erosion at high flows. Based on these findings we developed a conceptual rating model separating the mineral and organic fraction of the suspended matter in the Germany waterways. This model allows evaluating the sources of the mineral and organic fraction of the suspended matter and gain new insights into the first order control of discharge dynamics of suspended sediments.

Thomas O. Hoffmann et al.

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Thomas O. Hoffmann et al.

Thomas O. Hoffmann et al.

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Latest update: 09 Jul 2020
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Short summary
We study the dynamics of suspended matter and associated nutrients in large rivers in Germany. The relationship between suspended sediment concentration and discharge is diagnostic of the processes and sources of suspended matter. We show, that suspended matter orginates from organic growth within the river at low flow and from soil erosion at high flow. In a warmer climate with increased frequency of droughts, low flow staes are likely to be more prolonged, affecting the behaviour of rivers.
We study the dynamics of suspended matter and associated nutrients in large rivers in Germany....
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