A series of flume experiments were conducted to study the effect of bed form dynamics on the flow over a gravel bed comprising a wide distribution of grain sizes. Instantaneous high-frequency streamwise flow velocities were sampled using an acoustic Doppler velocimeter at a frequency of 200 Hz, while the simultaneous bed elevations were sampled using sonar transducers at a frequency of 0.2 Hz for a duration of 20 h. Spectral analysis of the measured velocity fluctuations reveals the existence of two distinct power law scaling regimes. At high frequencies, an inertial subrange of turbulence with ∼-5/3 Kolmogorov scaling is observed. At low frequencies, another scaling regime with spectral slope of about -1.1 is found. We interpret this range as the signature of the evolving multiscale bed topography on the near-bed velocity fluctuations. The two scaling ranges are separated by a spectral gap, i.e., a range of intermediate scales with no additional energy contribution. The high-frequency limit of the spectral gap corresponds to the integral scale of turbulence. The low-frequency end of the gap corresponds to the scale of the smallest bed forms identified by the velocity sensor, which depends on the position of the sensor. Our results also show that the temporal scales of the largest bed forms can be potentially identified from spectral analysis of low-resolution velocity measurements collected near the channel bed.
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Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.