Managing Ice Jams

MarineLink.com
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Photo: Karen Watson, U.S. Geological Survey

April showers may bring May flowers, but spring can also bring ice jams to the thawing rivers and streams across the northern United States.

An ice jam or ice dam, is a buildup of broken ice in the river system. It can be a problem that causes the water to back up over the top of highway bridges, roads, or into cities. At times, they can cause flooding. Ice jams can be large–backing up water for miles, or small and only back up water in a small area locally.

An ice jam can damage bridges with the amount of water pushing on the jam from behind; it can force the ice to push the bridge – moving it slightly.

USGS monitors ice jams across the north using cameras as well as by collecting ice thickness information when technicians do regular streamgage work or when measuring discharge on the rivers in the spring.

For example, each year, the Maine Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Coast Guard asks the USGS to measure the ice thickness and provide an ice jam flood potential on the Kennebec River. The U.S. Coast Guard has used their ice breakers to clear the ice in the lower Kennebec River in years when the ice jam flood potential was high.

Greg Stewart, data section chief for the USGS New England Water Science Center, said its part of the agency’s job to monitor river flows throughout the state of Maine and to measure the stream flow underneath the ice.

USGS technicians take ice cores to measure ice thickness at various places on the rivers. In order to make an ice measurement, it’s necessary to drill between 25-30 holes in the ice. Then, thickness is recorded at just several of the holes to help document the measurement conditions.

That information allows the USGS to assess the risk of ice jams, flooding or other problems when the ice begins to melt, Stewart said. According to Stewart, when ice jam flooding starts to happen, there is very little time and very little warning.

Thickness of the ice and how fast a melt occurs affects the ice jam flooding potential. For example while the weather is cold, and the water is freezing you have ice accumulation. When the weather changes and it starts to warm the ice begins to melt and begins to break up. A quick warmup with the ice strong and still in place can cause significant ice jam flooding.

Another sign of spring is the melting snowpack, which is the result of accumulated layers of snow with generally more at high altitudes. Snowpacks feed rivers and streams providing an aquatic life habitat, hydro power, a possible source of drinking water, but they are also a potential flood hazard.

With a quick warm up of high temperatures over a short period of time, there is an increased likelihood of flooding from snowpack melt, but when you have a gradual increase in spring temperatures with moderate temperatures during the day and slightly below freezing at night the flooding potential is decreased slowly and safely.

According to Stewart, when the snowpack starts to melt historically March, that’s when snowmelt driven runoff begins, the USGS looks at the flooding potential.

usgs.gov
 

  • Photo: Iowa Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

    Photo: Iowa Water Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

Maritime Reporter July 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Navigation

FARO 3D Documentation Conference

The FARO 3D Documentation Conference, to be held October 13-15, 2014, was created as a forum for sharing knowledge, best practices and insight into the world of laser scanning and 3D documentation.

Northrop Grumman Enhances VMFT Software

Northrop Grumman Corporation announced that its latest VisionMaster FT (VMFT) software now includes ADMIRALTY Information Overlay (AIO) as an integral element of

Oil Spills into Ohio River from Coal Plant

The U.S. Coast Guard closed a 15-mile stretch of the Ohio River on Tuesday after at least five thousand gallons of fuel oil spilled from a 60-year-old power plant owned by Duke Energy near Cincinnati,

Environmental

Port of Long Beach to the Rescue of Birds

The Port of Long Beach announced Tuesday that it is expanding its partnership with International Bird Rescue, a global expert in oiled wildlife emergencies and aquatic bird care,

Oil Spills into Ohio River from Coal Plant

The U.S. Coast Guard closed a 15-mile stretch of the Ohio River on Tuesday after at least five thousand gallons of fuel oil spilled from a 60-year-old power plant owned by Duke Energy near Cincinnati,

Reflex Marine, Fano Kran Partner

Reflex Marine continues to expand its global network of Accredited Service Centers with its latest addition, Fano Kran-Service A/S (Fano Kran) located in Denmark.

Coast Guard

BWTS SeaCURE Gains USCG AMS Acceptance

Evoqua Water Technologies LLC says that its SeaCURE Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) has been granted AMS Acceptance in all salinities. System highlights

Search Suspended for Man Overboard near Cedar Bayou

The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Tuesday for a man who went missing after his shrimp boat overturned Monday near Cedar Bayou on the Houston Ship Channel.

Oil Spills into Ohio River from Coal Plant

The U.S. Coast Guard closed a 15-mile stretch of the Ohio River on Tuesday after at least five thousand gallons of fuel oil spilled from a 60-year-old power plant owned by Duke Energy near Cincinnati,

Maritime Safety

Man Arrested over Death of Stowaway in Shipping Container

A man was arrested in Northern Ireland on Tuesday on suspicion of murder after the death of an Afghan Sikh who was among 35 suspected stowaways found in a shipping

Reflex Marine, Fano Kran Partner

Reflex Marine continues to expand its global network of Accredited Service Centers with its latest addition, Fano Kran-Service A/S (Fano Kran) located in Denmark.

Xervo and SH Group Expanding in Norway

The possible introduction of the NORSOK R-002 standards means there’s a big job to be done upgrading the lifeboats and rescue boats onboard the rigs already operating in the Norwegian sector.

Government Update

Russia Conducts High North Geophysical Surveys

For the first time, as part of the Arctic-2014 high-latitude expedition, nuclear icebreakers 'Akademik Fedorov' and 'Yamal' have conducted an entire complex of geophysical research at the North Pole,

BOEM to Open Bids for Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Gulf of Mexico Regional Director John Rodi will open the Gulf of Mexico Western Planning Area Lease Sale 238 at 9 a.

Nuship Canberra Embarks on Final Sea Trials

Nuship Canberra, the first of two Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships being built for the Australian Defense Force, has sailed on her final contractor sea trials

 
 
Maritime Standards Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2285 sec (4 req/sec)