A calibrated three-dimensional Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code model was applied to simulate unsteady flow patterns and temperature distributions in the Bankhead river-reservoir system in Alabama, USA. A series of sensitivity model runs were performed under daily repeated large releases (DRLRs) with different durations (2, 4 and 6 h) from Smith Dam Tailrace (SDT) when other model input variables were kept unchanged. The density currents in the river-reservoir system form at different reaches, are destroyed at upstream locations due to the flow momentum of the releases, and form again due to solar heating. DRLRs (140 m3
/s) with longer durations push the bottom cold water further downstream and maintain a cooler bottom water temperature. For the 6-h DRLR, the momentum effect definitely reaches Cordova (~43.7 km from SDT). Positive bottom velocity (density currents moving downstream) is achieved 48.4%, 69.0% and 91.1% of the time with an average velocity of 0.017, 0.042 and 0.053 m/s at Cordova for the 2-h, 4-h and 6-h DRLR, respectively. Results show that DRLRs lasting for at least 4 h maintain lower water temperatures at Cordova. When the 4-h and 6-h DRLRs repeat for more than 6 and 10 days, respectively, bottom temperatures at Cordova become lower than those for the constant small release (2.83 m3
/s). These large releases overwhelm the mixing effects due to inflow momentum and maintain temperature stratification at Cordova.
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