Stream geomorphology in amountain lake district: Sediment links, lake-modified hydraulics, anddownstream lake effects

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Earth Surface Processes and Landforms



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Lakes are common in glaciated mountain regions and geomorphic principles suggest that lake modifications to water and sediment fluxes should affect downstream channels. Lakes in the Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho, USA, were created during glaciation and we sought to understand how and to what extent glacial morphology and lake disruption of fluxes control stream physical form and functions. First, we described downstream patterns in channel form including analyses of sediment entrainment and hydraulic geometry in one catchment with a lake. To expand on these observations and understand the role of glacial legacy, we collected data from 33 stream reaches throughout the region to compare channel form and functions among catchments with lakes, meadows (filled lakes), and no past or present lakes. Downstream hydraulic geometry relationships were weak for both the single catchment and regionally. Our data show that downstream patterns in sediment size, channel shape, sediment entrainment and channel hydraulic adjustment are explained by locations of sediment sources (hillslopes and tributaries) and sediment sinks (lakes). Stream reaches throughout the region are best differentiated by landscape position relative to lakes and meadows according to channel shape and sediment size, where outlets are wide and shallow with coarse sediment, and inlets are narrow and deep with finer sediment. Meadow outlets and lake outlets show similarities in the coarse‐sediment fraction and channel capacity, but meadow outlets have a smaller fine‐sediment fraction and nearly mobile sediment. Estimates of downstream recovery from lake effects on streams suggest 50 per cent recovery within 2–4 km downstream, but full recovery may not be reached within 20 km downstream. These results suggest that sediment sinks, such as lakes, in addition to sources, such as tributaries, are important local controls on mountain drainage networks. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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