An appraisal of the contemporary sediment yield in the Ebro Basin
The main aim of this work is to provide a comprehensive estimation of the sediment yield of the Ebro Basin (NE Iberian Peninsula) in the twentieth century.
Materials and methods
For this purpose, we have used the reservoir sedimentation records available for a series of large dams distributed in the catchment. Records started in 1916 and ended in 2001. In addition to the sediment yield estimates, bathymetrical records permit an evaluation of spatial variations in the sediment load of the basin and the assessment of the sediment yield of the lower reaches of the river downstream of major dams.
Results and discussion
Total sedimentation in the reservoirs of the basin is estimated to be in the order of 670 × 106 t. Sediment yield is five times higher in the northern catchments (Pyrenean Range, 370 t km−2 year−1) than in the southern ones (Iberian Massif, 78 t km−2 year−1), reflecting the particular hydromorphic conditions of these areas. Specific sediment yield (SSY) decreases with catchment area but in the southern zone is more scale-dependent. The highest SSY occurs at 350 mm year−1 showing a decline as runoff increases. SSY of the northern zone plots high in comparison to curves found in the literature, and this is interpreted as the consequence of historical human impact on sediment delivery. The sediment load of the Ebro Basin before the widespread construction of dams and the beginning of land abandonment is estimated to be 21 × 106 t year−1.
The data illustrate the distinct hydrological and geomorphic behaviour of the two hydro-climatic areas analysed in this study. The SSY data show, for instance, the lower capability of the semi-arid catchments to transfer sediment loads. SSY does not show a linear relation with runoff, a fact that corroborates general patterns previously reported in the literature. Finally, the contemporary sediment load represents around the 1% of what was potentially transported during the beginning of the twentieth century, illustrating the sedimentary deficit of the lower section of the Ebro Basin.
KeywordsReservoirs River Ebro Sediment yield Sedimentation
This research was carried out within the framework of the research projects CGL2006-11679-C02-01/HID, CGL2009-09770-BTE, and SCARCE Consolider Ingenio 2010 CSD2009-00065,all funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. The second author has benefit from a Juan de la Cierva Fellowship (JCI-2008-2910) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation while this manuscript was prepared, and a Ramon y Cajal Fellowship (RYC-2010-06264) funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation while the manuscript was reviewed. Reservoir sedimentation data were supplied by the CEDEX. Hydrological data were supplied by the Ebro Water Authorities. We thank Chris Gibbins for the revision of the manuscript, and the two anonymous referees whose comments greatly improved the manuscript.
- Avendaño C, Cobo R, Sanz ME, Gómez JL (1997) Capacity situation in Spanish reservoirs. I.C.O.L.D. Proc Nineteenth Congr Large Dams v 74(52):849–862Google Scholar
- Balasch JC, Vericat D, Batalla RJ (2007) Deposición de sedimentos finos durante una crecida en el tramo medio del Ebro. Cuaternario Geomorfología 21:41–55Google Scholar
- Batalla RJ (2003) Sediment deficit in rivers caused by dams and instream gravel mining. A review with examples from NE Spain. Cuaternario Geomorfología 17:79–91Google Scholar
- Bayerri E (1935) Historia de Tortosa y su comarca. Imprenta Moderna de Alguerri, TortosaGoogle Scholar
- Beguería S, López-Moreno JI, Lorente A, Seeger M, García-Ruiz JM (2003) Assessing the effect of climate oscillations and land-use changes on streamflow in the Central Spanish Pyrenees. Ambio 32:283–286Google Scholar
- Brune GM (1953) The trap efficiency of reservoirs. Trans Amer Geophys Union 34:407–418Google Scholar
- Dedkov AP, Mozzherin VI (1996) Erosion and sediment yield on the Earth. IAHS Publ 236:29–33Google Scholar
- Dendy FE, Bolton GC (1976) Sediment yield – runoff drainage area relationships in the United States. J Soil Water Conserv 31:264–266Google Scholar
- Erkens G, Cohen KM, Gouw MJP, Middelkoop H, Hoek WZ (2006) Holocene sediment budgets of the Rhine Delta (The Netherlands): a record of changing sediment delivery. In: Rowan JS, Duck RW, Werritty A (Eds) Sediment Dynamics and the Hydromorphology of Fluvial Systems. IAHS Publ 306:406–415Google Scholar
- Fournier F (1960) Climat et erosion. Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 203 pGoogle Scholar
- Gallart F, Llorens P (2004) Observations on land cover changes and water resources in the headwaters of the Ebro catchment, Iberian Peninsula. Phys Chem Earth 29:769–773Google Scholar
- Gorría H (1877) Desecación de las marismas y terrenos pantanosos denominados de Los Alfaques. Imprenta La Giralda, MadridGoogle Scholar
- Jansen PPh, Van Bendegom L, Van den Berg J, De Vries M, Zanen A (1979) Principles of river engineering. Pitman, London, 509 pGoogle Scholar
- Langbein WB, Schumm SA (1958) Yield of sediment in relation to mean annual precipitation. Amer Geophys Union Trans 39:1076–1084Google Scholar
- Mamede G (2008) Reservoir sedimentation in dryland catchments: modelling and management. Unpublished PhD Thesis, Universität Potsdam, GermanyGoogle Scholar
- Meade RH, Parker RS (1985) Sediment in rivers of the United States. US Geol Surv Water Supply Pap 2275:49–60Google Scholar
- Meade RH, Trimble SW (1974) Changes in sediments loads in rivers of the Atlantic drainage of the United States since 1890. IAHS Pub 113:99–104Google Scholar
- Miller CR (1953) Determination of the unit weight of sediment for use in sediment volume computations. US Bureau of Reclamation, Dept of Interior, Denver, COGoogle Scholar
- Novoa M (1984) Precipitaciones y avenidas extraordinarias en Catalunya. Proceedings of the Jornadas de Trabajo sobre Inestabilidad de laderas en el Pirineo, Barcelona, pp 1–15Google Scholar
- Sanz-Montero ME, Avendaño-Salas C, Cobo-Rayán R (1999) Influencia de los embalses en el transporte de sedimento hasta el delta del Ebro (España). Proceedings of the Symposium on Hydrological and Geochemical Processes in Large Scale River Basins (Manaus, Brasil), pp 1–6Google Scholar
- Schröter D, Cramer W, Leemans R, Prentice C, Araújo MB, Arnell NW, Bondeau A, Bugmann H, Carter TR, Gracia CA, de la Vega-Leinert AC, Erhard M, Ewert F, Glendining M, House JI, KankaanpääS KRJT, Lavorel S, Lindner M, Metzger MJ, Meyer J, Mitchell TD, Reginster I, Rounsevell M, Sabaté S, Sitch S, Smith B, Smith J, Smith P, Sykes MT, Thonicke K, Thuiller W, Tuck G, Zaehle S, Zierl B (2005) Ecosystem service supply and vulnerability to global change in Europe. Science 310:1333–1337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Tabuteau MM (1960) Etude graphique pour les consequences hydro-erosives du climatMediterraneen. Bulletin de l’Association Geographique Française 295:130–142Google Scholar
- Walling DE, Kleo AHA (1979) Sediment yields in areas of low precipitation: a global view. IAHS Publ 128:479–493Google Scholar
- Walling D, Bradley SB, Lambert CP (1986) Conveyance losses of suspended sediment within a floodplain system. In: Hadley RF (ed) Drainage basin sediment delivery. IAHS Publ 159:119–131Google Scholar
- Wilson L (1969) Les relations entre les processus geomorphologiques et le climat modern comme methode de palaeoclimatologie. Rev Geographie Dynam Ser 2:303–314Google Scholar