Abstract [en]

Different magnitude, intensity and timing of precipitation can impact runoff, hillslope erosion and transport of sediment along river channels.  Human activities, such as dam construction and surface mining can also considerably influence transport of sediment and sediment-bound contaminants. Many river basins of the world are currently subject to changes in climate at the same time as pressures from other human activities increase. However, because there are often complex interactions between such multiple drivers of change, it is challenging to understand and quantify contributions of individual drivers, which is needed in predictive modelling of future sediment and contaminant flows. This thesis considers sediment transport in the Lake Baikal basin, which is hydrologically dominated by the transboundary Selenga River of Russia and Mongolia. The Selenga River basin is, for instance, subject to climate change and increasing pressures from mining, but process complexity is reduced by the fact that the river basin is one of few large basins in the world that still is essentially undammed and unregulated. A combination of field measurement campaigns and modelling methods are used in this thesis, with the aim to: (i) identify historical hydroclimatic trends and their possible causes, (ii) analyse the spatial variability of riverine sediment loading in the mining affected areas, and (iii) investigate sediment transport and storage processes within river channels and in river deltas. Results show that, during the period 1938-2009, the annual maximum daily flow in the Selenga River basin has decreased, as well as the annual number of high flow events, whereas the annual minimum daily flow has increased. These changes in discharge characteristics are consistent with expected impacts of basin-scale permafrost thaw. Both field observations and modelling results show that changes in magnitude and number of high-flow events can considerably influence the transport of bed sediment. In addition, the average discharge has decreased in the past 20 years due to an extended drought. Under conditions of low flow, metal-enriched sediment from mining areas was observed to dominate the river water. If discharge will continue to decrease in the Selenga River (or other mining-impacted rivers of the world), further increases in riverine metal concentrations may hence be one of the consequences. Furthermore, under current conditions of extended drought, less sediment may have been distributed over the floodplain wetlands in the Selenga River delta. Present estimates, however, show that sediment can still be transported to, and deposited within, the banks and water bodies located in the backwater zone of the Selenga River delta. This can aid bank and levee stabilization, support the development of wetlands and foster net sedimentation.​

Public defence

2017-09-29, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)

Viparelli, Enrica, PhD
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Collage of Engineering and Computing, University of South Carolina, USA.

Jarsjö, Jerker, Docent
Stockholms universitet, Naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för naturgeografi.