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Trends in the suspended-sediment yields of coastal rivers of northern California, 1955–2010 Public Deposited

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  • Time-depe ndencies of suspended-sediment discharge from six coastal watersheds of northern Califor nia – Smith River, Klamath River, Trinity River, Redwood Creek, Mad River, and Eel River –were evaluated using monitoring data from 1955 to 2010. Suspended-sediment concentrations revealed ti me-dependent hysteresis and multi-year trends. The multi-year trends had two primary patterns relative to river dis- charge: (i)increases in concentration resulting from both land clearing from loggin gand the floodof record during December 1964 (water year 1965),and (ii)continual decreases in concentration during the decades following this flood.Data from the Eel River revealed that changes in suspended-sediment concentrations occurred for all grain-size fractions, but were most pronounced for the sand fraction. Because of these changes, the use of bulk discharge-concentration relationships (i.e.,‘‘sediment ratin g curves’’) without time-dependencies in these relationships resulted in substantial errors in sediment load estimates, including 2.5-fold over-prediction of Eel River sediment loads since 1979. We conclu de that sedimen tdischarge and sediment discharge relationships (suchas sediment rating curves)from these coastal rivers have varied substantially with time in response to land use and climate. Thus, the use of historical river sediment data and sediment rating curves without considerations for time-depende nt trends may result in significanterrors in sediment yield estimates from the globally-im portant steep, small watersheds.
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  • Warrick, J., Madej, M., Goni, M., & Wheatcroft, R. (2013). Trends in the suspended-sediment yields of coastal rivers of northern california, 1955-2010. Journal of Hydrology, 489, 108-123. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2013.02.041
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  • 489
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  • This work was also supported through aNationalScience Foundation Award number 0628487 –‘‘Collabor ative Research:Delivery and Burial of Particula te Organic Carbon (POC)on Ocean Margins Dominated by Small, Mountainous Rivers: theRole of Effective Discharge’’, and the USGS Coastal and MarineGeology Program.
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