Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
10 Oct 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).
Impacts of Changing Hydrology on Ravine Growth: Experimental Results
Stephanie S. Day1, Karen B. Gran2, and Chris Paola3 1Department of Geosciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, 58102, USA
2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, 55812, USA
3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 55455, USA
Abstract. Ravines grow through head cut propagation in response to overland flow coupled with incision and widening in the channel bottom leading to hillslope failures. Altered hydrology can impact the rate at which ravines grow by changing head-cut propagation, channel incision, and channel widening rates. Using a set of small physical experiments, we tested how changing overland flow rates and flow volumes alter the total volume of erosion and resulting ravine morphology. Ravines were modeled as both detachment-limited and transport-limited systems, using two different substrates with varying cohesion. In both cases, the erosion rate varied linearly with water discharge, such that the volume of sediment eroded was a function not of flow rate, but of total water volume. This implies that efforts to reduce peak flow rates alone without addressing flow volumes entering ravine systems may not reduce erosion. The documented response in these experiments is not typical when compared to larger pre-existing channels where higher flow rates result in greater erosion through non-linear relationships between water discharge and sediment discharge. Ravines do not respond like pre-existing channels because channel slope remains a free parameter and can adjust relatively quickly in response to changing flows.

Citation: Day, S. S., Gran, K. B., and Paola, C.: Impacts of Changing Hydrology on Ravine Growth: Experimental Results, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Stephanie S. Day et al.
Stephanie S. Day et al.
Stephanie S. Day et al.


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Short summary
Ravines are deep steep sided channels that erode as water falls over the upstream end. Erosion of these features is a particular concern where people and climate change have altered how water moves over the land. This paper analyzes a set of experiments that were used to determine how changing ravine flows impact erosion. We found that while increasing the volume of water will increase erosion, changing the flow rate into a ravine won’t impact the total erosion, but will alter ravine shape.
Ravines are deep steep sided channels that erode as water falls over the upstream end. Erosion...