This project will investigate the factors driving fine sediment transport in rivers over multiple timescales in order to improve the management of sediment-related challenges in river catchments.

At a glance

  • DatesOctober 2014-October 2017
  • SponsorLeeds City Council, Arup
  • Funded£38,500
  • PartnersArup

Despite being an indispensable part of river systems, fine sediment is linked to a range of problems related to pollution, ecological degradation, flooding and damage to infrastructure. Furthermore, fine sediment transport in rivers is highly variable in time and space, making it very difficult to predict and to develop targeted sediment management strategies. 

In this project, PhD researcher Kim Vercruysse aims to improve understanding of the factors that drive temporal variations in fine sediment transport, which will help to better quantify and predict fine sediment transport in rivers over management relevant timescales.

The project focusses on the River Aire in Leeds, where they are currently constructing the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme. Insights into the sediment dynamics of this river will contribute to sustainable functioning of the scheme.

Muddy water

Progress update

Fine sediment loads calculated from historical data and collected samples to date show that fine sediment transport in the River Aire can be very high, but that there is considerable variation in time. Statistical analyses show that antecedent rainfall is an important factor controlling sediment concentrations in the river.

A sediment fingerprinting technique based on infrared spectrometry was developed to identify the relative contributions of different sediment sources from the catchment to the sediment within the river. Preliminary results show that particles from urban surfaces (i.e. street dust) are an important sediment source in the River Aire in Leeds. Furthermore, there are significant variations in the sediment source contributions depending on the amount of rainfall and streamflow of the river.

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Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme -