Journal article

Particle dynamics in high-Alpine proglacial reservoirs modified by pumped-storage operation

Temperature and suspended particle distribution were surveyed and modeled in two high-Alpine reservoirs in Switzerland, connected by pumped-storage operations for similar to 30 years. Due to different glacier coverage of the catchments, the two reservoirs exhibit different particle concentrations and temperatures. After ice-breakup, the lower reservoir with a higher glacier cover in its catchment experiences a higher particle input becoming more turbid than the upper reservoir, which in contrast becomes warmer and thermally more stratified. The pumped-storage operations, which replace the basin volumes annually at least 6 (larger lower basin) to 10 (smaller upper basin) times, modify the physical characteristics of the two reservoirs. This is especially so in winter, when they are ice-covered, without riverine input and at low water level. Our reservoir investigations between 2007 and 2009 and the subsequent particle-balance model show that the upper and lower basins have become more and less turbid, respectively. Pumped-storage operations modify the stratification and particle distribution in both reservoirs and therefore alter the particle outflow and sedimentation. However, on the basis of particle concentrations and reservoir volumes, it is evident that the annually integrated particle release to downstream (similar to 40% of total) and to overall sedimentation (similar to 60%) have hardly changed. The budget model was useful in the prediction of particle distribution and sedimentation dynamics in the pumped-storage system. It implies that this approach can be useful for further employment during planning stages of power plants in order to modify and mitigate downstream particle loads in reservoir operations.


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