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Scott Gauvain Thesis Defense

March 10, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm MST

Title: Acoustic variability of whitewater flow features

Abstract: Rivers, streams, and tributaries play a critical role in the global water cycle and their dispersion of freshwater is essential for widespread human consumption, crop irrigation, waste management, and hydropower generation. Currently, there is a need for innovative, non-invasive, and low cost methods of surface freshwater discharge monitoring. With careful site selection, recording the acoustics produced at the air-water interface of ‘whitewater’ flow features could be used reliably and inexpensively to infer changes in local discharge. Acoustics are not being used extensively to track streamflow and it is not clear how the relationship between discharge and sound changes among variations of river flow and morphology. To address this, I record audible sound and infrasound produced by morphologically unique whitewater flow features of the Boise River and Dry Creek in Southern Idaho during the flood cycles of 2021 and 2022. Using the University of Idaho’s Streamlab flume and a custom-made adjustable plunging jet, I produced hydraulic jump and plunging jet streamflow conditions at several levels of discharge to understand how channel and turbulence morphologies influence acoustic properties and may explain sound-discharge uncertainties. Determining which channel and turbulence morphological characteristics produce a clear, predictable sound-discharge relationship and understanding sources of uncertainty can help bring acoustic stream gauging from a promising idea to a useful field method.

Advisor: Jake Anderson

Committee Members: James McNamara, Elowyn Yager