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sedFlow – a tool for simulating fractional bedload transport and longitudinal profile evolution in mountain streams

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2015
Author Heimann Florian U.M., Rickenmann Dieter, Turowski Jens M., Kirchner James W.,
Project SEDRIVER: Effects of sediment transporting flows on fish habitat in mountain rivers - expected development until 2050 taking into account climate change
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Earth Surface Dynamics
Volume (Issue) 3(1)
Page(s) 15 - 34
Title of proceedings Earth Surface Dynamics
DOI 10.5194/esurf-3-15-2015

Open Access

Type of Open Access Website


Especially in mountainous environments, the prediction of sediment dynamics is important for managing natural hazards, assessing in-stream habitats and understanding geomorphic evolution. We present the new modelling tool {sedFlow} for simulating fractional bedload transport dynamics in mountain streams. sedFlow is a one-dimensional model that aims to realistically reproduce the total transport volumes and overall morphodynamic changes resulting from sediment transport events such as major floods. The model is intended for temporal scales from the individual event (several hours to few days) up to longer-term evolution of stream channels (several years). The envisaged spatial scale covers complete catchments at a spatial discretisation of several tens of metres to a few hundreds of metres. sedFlow can deal with the effects of streambeds that slope uphill in a downstream direction and uses recently proposed and tested approaches for quantifying macro-roughness effects in steep channels. sedFlow offers different options for bedload transport equations, flow-resistance relationships and other elements which can be selected to fit the current application in a particular catchment. Local grain-size distributions are dynamically adjusted according to the transport dynamics of each grain-size fraction. sedFlow features fast calculations and straightforward pre- and postprocessing of simulation data. The high simulation speed allows for simulations of several years, which can be used, e.g., to assess the long-term impact of river engineering works or climate change effects. In combination with the straightforward pre- and postprocessing, the fast calculations facilitate efficient workflows for the simulation of individual flood events, because the modeller gets the immediate results as direct feedback to the selected parameter inputs. The model is provided together with its complete source code free of charge under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) ( Examples of the application of sedFlow are given in a companion article by Heimann et al. (2015).